unexpected debt

This year we had an unexpected debt come up: $2600.  Other than mortgage debt, we don’t have any other debt, so this is a large amount for us.  We paid it off in seven months, which is good.  Really good, in fact.  I’m pretty proud of the way we pulled our money together to get this debt paid off quickly and with as little interest charges as possible.

Nevertheless, a couple of questions are haunting me.

What were we going to do with that money if we hadn’t incurred the debt?  I’m sad to say, probably nothing.  We probably would have lost that money through the cracks.  Cracks like extra meals out, more expensive meals in, extra do-dads and trinkets for the kids or ourselves.  None of which would have any meaning or purpose.  (Contrary to what you might think if you observed my dining habits, I don’t really think eating out enhances our lives.)

If we hadn’t incurred the debt, and we didn’t lose the money through the cracks either, what could we have done with the money?  I think we could have done a lot.  We could have taken a fairly nice vacation in the mountains, saved for the kids’ educations, made some repairs to the house or car we’ve been meaning to get to, or done something meaningful for charity.  I think the possible meaningful uses for that kind of money are legion.

Here’s the million dollar question.  How many $2600 blocks of cash do we regularly throw away?  And by extension, how many great and meaningful things are we not doing because we throw that money away?  As our experience paying off the debt shows, it really isn’t that hard to come up with that kind of money.  We weren’t hurting because of the debt.  But I think we may be hurting ourselves by not being more deliberate with our money.  This year, I’m going to look for another $2600 in our spending, and redirect it to something I can be proud of.

This post originally appeared in the December 19, 2007, edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.

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