What I Learned From Being In Debt

The following guest post was contributed by Margaret Keely who is a writer, educator and continues giving inspiration and guidance to her students during nursing classes as part of their quality nursing education.

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Being in debt makes you feel ashamed, guilty and stupid. It can make you feel like your life is out of control. There’s such a taboo about it. Being in debt is not something you can openly talk about with someone else. Our culture makes it permissible to talk about our sexual encounters with strangers over lunch or a few beers with friends, but it’s not okay to talk about having the MasterCard bill collector breathing down your back.

When you have debt, seems like there’s an unspoken rule that you can’t spend anything anymore because you need to be doing everything possible to pay off your debt. This depressive situation can make you want to bring out the charge cards and shop for something just to give you a quick and easy high, even for a brief moment. However, this further aggravates an already negative spiral, which can make you feel like there’s no end in sight.

While being in debt brings with out a tremendous amount of financial responsibility that must be faced, it can also teach you about a lot of things about life. While it will compel you to learn to handle your money more maturely, it can also teach you a lot of valuable life lessons.

The valuable things in life are free

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One of the things that being in debt makes you realize is that not everything we hold as important or necessary has value. That dream European car you slave away for each month, that showcase home with all the furniture from Ethan Allen, the closet full of designer clothes, the Louis Vuitton bags, the Jimmy Choo shoes and the Tiffany Jewelry aren’t all that it’s cracked up to be. While it’s fun to have, it’s simply not worth losing sleep over once the Visa bill comes and you have no money to pay for it.

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Once you’re in debt, you’ll end up realizing that a lot of the stuff you accumulate actually doesn’t bring you much joy.

What I have learned is that the things that really matter, such as love for your spouse, the smile on your child’s face or the bond you have with your friends are truly priceless. These are things that can’t be bought in a store, put on layaway or put on your charge card. Nice things can give you a quick high and you can appreciate the craftsmanship and quality of fine things, but it’s not going to give you a hug when you’re sad, it’s not a shoulder to cry on when you’re depressed and it won’t make you feel loved when you’re lonely.

When you lose everything to debt, what remains is what matters

While it’s true you need money to eat out and buy things for your family to make them happy, true joy comes in companionship and time well spent together, rather than surrounding yourself with stuff. When you lose your house, your car gets repossessed and your flat screen TV gets hauled out the door by the repo man, at the end of the day, all you really have are each other.

When you get stripped of all your material possessions and even your pride, you’ll start thinking, “At least I still have my health”, or, “At least we still have each other”.

These are the two things I learned from being in debt. Of course, I also learned the word “Sale” isn’t necessarily something good and I need to have more impulse control when it comes to swiping my cards. I realize that I don’t need as much stuff to live and be happy.

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