Here at Grumpy Rumblings, we’re all about enjoying life’s little luxuries… *if* you can afford them. You won’t hear us castigating you for buying a nice car or fancy cheeses or lattes or traveling or whatever it is that makes you happy. If you have the money, spend it on whatever (legal) thing you want to spend it on. It’s not a race to financial independence unless you want it to be (and some of us prefer working to taking cold showers). He who dies with the largest asset portfolio isn’t the winner.
However, we get irritated when folks with high debt loads make the same argument, especially when that debt is of the high-interest unsecured kind. Not only are you shooting yourself in the foot someday living near the edge, but you’re also living it up today at the expense of other folks if that house of cards comes crashing down. One day you may get hit with a negative shock. You could lose your job or hit your credit limit or get hit with a big medical bill or any number of things that many of us self-insure for with cash in the bank. And at that point, someone will have to bail you out. It might be family or it might be bankruptcy or you may get suckers on the internet to help shoulder your burden. It may even be the government paying for your problems in old age or nonprofits taking care of you.
Those folks say they’re entitled to their high debt loads. They fund more lavish lifestyles than we have on their smaller incomes. Travel, fancy handbags, daily meals out, nice cars, a house with no money down… why should they have to pay off their unsecured debt before living life? They say it’s their money, they should be able to do what they want with it.
Except it isn’t their money. It’s their money plus the expected value that they’re going to screw up and someone else is going to have to take care of their mess. And the probability of that happening is pretty high, much higher than folks who are responsible with their money.
And those responsible folks are the ones who end up footing the bill, whether because they’re family or just society as a whole. And that’s irritating.
Now, we wouldn’t trade with these entitled folks. We *like* having real actual money of our own more than we like the consumer goods or additional travel or whatever it is we could be funding instead of saving or keeping our credit lines open. But it is still obnoxious. (And why is it that almost every person I know IRL like this votes Republican and hates folks on Welfare? The only difference is access to credit!)
Student debt isn’t as bad because it’s virtually impossible to discharge in bankruptcy, but it can still keep folks from retirement saving, which eventually comes back to bite society through old-age Medicaid costs if nothing else (2/3 of Medicaid is long-term care). Housing debt is secured which means the bank at least gets a house in return for the debt. But we still cringe when people put 0% down on top of all their other debts.
Anyhow, I guess the point of this post is, stop bragging about your expensive purchases until you’ve taken care of yourself first. We don’t want to hear about it. It’s not your money that you’re spending until you’re out of debt. Stop talking about spending other folk’s money. Even better, stop spending other folks’ money… but that is probably too much to ask. ETA: Stopping complaining about your debt would also help, especially if you’re always attributing that debt to the universe being against you.
What do you all think? Should people be entitled to lavish spending so long as they can make the minimum payments on their credit lines? At what point are you allowed to live a lavish lifestyle? What’s your limit for what you would do to get out of high interest unsecured debt?