How do you feel about debt?
From a quick survey of my friends, debt seems to have the marmite quality – you either love it, or you hate it.
For some people, the idea of being in debt is terrifying. Holidays, cars and treats are carefully saved up for, and only when there are enough pennies in the pot can you splash out. For others, juggling a fistful of credit cards and loans is a normal part of everyday life, a way to manage unexpected expenses, or simply a way to get what they want, when they want it.
What I do find odd though, is that the debt-adverse people don’t seem to feel the same fear from a mortgage, or that if they do, it’s a sacrifice they’re willing to make. Isn’t a mortgage the biggest debt going? I’m not afraid of the odd loan or modest store card balance, but a 25 year debt secured against your home?? Scary stuff indeed.
The key of course, like most things in life, (I’m thinking biscuits, gin, ice cream eaten straight out of the tub with a spoon), is moderation and management. Debt is only scary when you can’t manage it – so long as you’re in a position to meet your monthly payments, does it really matter what the balance is? It’s just a number on a piece of paper after all.
I think an individual’s attitude to debt is often influenced by their upbringing. Sometimes you follow in your parents’ footsteps, inheriting the urge to count every penny, other times it can go the opposite way, provoking rebellion.
My Gran for instance, the classic rationed WWII generation, was fastidious about money, and at the end of every day would write down everything she had spent in a small, lined notebook, checking the carefully balance against the coins in her black leather purse. My mum on the other hand, has a much more ‘live in the moment’ attitude to spending – after years of being denied extravaganzas, she believes in enjoying it while you can.
I like to think I’ve inherited a little bit from each approach, (which I’m hoping means I have a ‘balanced approach’ rather than that I have some kind of multiple personality disorder). I’m not afraid of debt, but I respect it. I’m not stupid with money, but I do like to treat myself and not feel guilty about it. A little bit of what you fancy after all…