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We Can’t Afford That

It’s funny the people who I know, that are out of debt or mostly out of debt can’t seem to afford anything. More intesting is the folks I know that are having problems with their finances, always seem to have really nice new things around their houses, have you noticed that?

Sounds like I am being overly glib, but I view this as a very true statement. It is easy to prove.

The folks who have little debt, or none, don’t buy things and thus do not increase their debt, therefore all their debt payments go straight onto the existing amount, however, folks who already have debt, now increase their debt with more purchases and thus their debt payments go onto growing debt, thus their debt does not decrease (or decrease at a noticeable rate).

Still don’t believe me? Is your debt dropping? If it is, have you bought anything big on credit lately? My bet would be the answer to the credit purchase question is no.

It’s interesting how a simple statement like We Can’t Afford That, can have such powerful consequences in folks lives, if they simply follow their own advice.  More than once, I have said out loud to my spouse, “We can’t afford <Fill In The Blank>”, yet I then turn around and purchase that same <Fill in the Blank> thing (on credit), with some outlandish rationalization that makes the credit increase palatable (to me). Things like:

  • I only have to pay it back in a year (zero interest for a year purchase)
  • I’ll be getting a tax rebate next month
  • I deserve it (yes this is the worst one of the bunch, and I deserve your shame and denigration for that one).

Why was it that we couldn’t afford something before, and then we could after I rationalized? I’ll tell you why, because I am an idiot, that is why, and that is why our debt load has had a lot of issues getting paid back in a timely fashion.


Time to start listening to the statement, We Can’t Afford That, and stop creating massive rationalizations to buy things on credit, and this will lead you out of the debt state you are currently fighting.

What can’t you afford, that you still may end up buying on credit?

Feel Free to Comment

  1. I was just thinking about this ‘I deserve it’ mentality (sense of entitlement) when in reality they can’t afford it! I am so exasperated when I see my friend doing it, just after digging her life out of a huge financial mess, she’s doing it all over again.

    What they forget is life keeps giving the same lesson again and again until we get it!

  2. SavingMentor has it right. It is a lifestyle and can be applied to almost any aspect of a person’s life. Diet and exercise are a couple of the big one’s that are visible to all, but finances fall right in line. Sometimes making wise, disciplined choices can be hard even if you know the right answer.

  3. Rather than use “I can’t afford that” I’ve taken to saying “I’d rather not spend money on that.”

    I’m constantly amazed at people who are in debt, then complain about said debt, but change nothing in their lives to do something about it.

  4. I notice that my friends and colleagues who are in debt and living paycheque-to-paycheque are the same one’s who can afford a trip to Vegas every few months because “it’s cheap”.

    For me, I’ll admit that I’ve used this excuse when it comes to the “don’t pay for a year” deals. We bought a computer and some furniture (separately) and managed to pay both of them off before the year was up.

  5. I think you’re right that this applies most of the time because it being frugal is a way of living. Most people won’t immediately stop being frugal once their debts are paid off.

    I also think that frugal people are more forward thinking and will even envision possible bad things happening to them where they might need a large stockpile of money. This can lead to the “I can’t afford that” mentality even when an item is clearly affordable for a particular person.

  6. So true. You really need a hard and fast rule, a line in the sand. We can’t afford that would be such a rule, but it sounds kind of negative. A more positive version would be “We need the money for more important things.”

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