how to get over that horrible feeling that you’re wasting your tax check

How many times have you been told to be responsible with your upcoming economic stimulus check?  That you ought to pay off credit cards or pay down existing debt?  Can you count that high?  Every time I hear that advice I sigh and I think, “Yeah, yeah, but I want to do something fun!”  I want to do something I wouldn’t have been able to do without that check.  Paying off a credit card feels like I’m wasting that money.  It feels like I’m no better off than I was before.

I freely admit to feelings like this, even though I’m old enough to know better.  Wasting money is anathema.  Losing money is depressing.

But I’ve learned to get around this depressing feeling, and even look forward to paying my credit card bill, with just a slight twist in my thinking.  Imagine the government told you they were going to send you a big check in two weeks.  You decide to spend that money now on something you wouldn’t otherwise have been able to buy, and just put it on your card.  When the credit card bill arrives, and you’re holding the check from the government, would you feel any remorse about paying the bill?

You wouldn’t feel any remorse because you were just using that money for what you had already decided to use it for.  You wouldn’t feel like you were losing or wasting the money, you got to do what you wanted with the money.

So if you get a tax check that’s big enough to make a dent in your credit card bill, paying the bill doesn’t mean you wasted your government check.  It means you got to do something on Uncle Sam’s dime.  You bought something but don’t have to pay for it.  Lucky you.

This article originally appeared in the May 14, 2008, edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.

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