My wife and I are making an effort to be out of debt and to stay that way. We have made a commitment to not borrow money for anything. For any reason. The first thing that people shout when they hear that is, “What about a house? You have to borrow money if you want to buy a house!” While I probably will break the rule of “no debt” to buy a house, I have to challenge the idea that you have to borrow money to do it.
If our government suddenly outlawed lending and borrowing money, people would find a way to buy a house. saving money would become imperative, since you couldn’t get anything without paying for it. Of course, people like Al Capone would become banks and the world would fall apart, so I’m not suggesting that it is a viable economic picture, but this is one of the only countries where borrowing and lending are such a part of the market.
Our decisions are not everyone’s decisions, and we are not trying to recruit people for our lifestyle cult. But it does come up, and we end up explaining that, though everyone else borrows money, we don’t and we intend to make that part of our life, even though it means that we have to drive old cars and live small. If we break our commitment to ourselves and choose to borrow money, say, for a house, then we must take that decision very seriously and suffer the consequences of having broken our rule. In other words, we should pay off the house as quickly as possible in order to be true to our convictions.
I have to point out that this is not a decision based on calculating the best return on investments and maximizing tax brackets to squeeze out percentages in an attempt to build assets, it is a behavior choice that is born of a desire to find discipline and live our lives with purpose.
We will never have the opportunity to take advantage of the 5% cash back offer from Visa, but we will engage others in conversations about why we live our lives the way we do. I also believe that the credit card companies are many times negligent in their marketing practices, targeting bankrupt people because they know that those people have spending problems and tend to charge more and pay more late fees. I like that we are intentionally not contributing to the industry. Our economy as a whole would be improved if we all took charge of our income and could spend it rather than making payments on stuff that you may mot even have anymore.