First, let me preface this with the following soothing words: If you are in debt, you should ask for help if you feel you are drowning and you have nowhere to turn. There are many good community based help groups for your debt issues, so there is help for you, and if you feel you are at wit’s end, ask for help (i.e. this post is not about you).
Don’t be a Debt Dandy
I am lucky to be a financially comfortable person (relatively speaking). I am by no means rich like many of my other blogger brethren, however, I am OK financially. My debt load is high, but it is manageable and I have a good job which pays reasonably well.
I do however have many acquaintances and friends (who make a great deal more than I do, since most of them have Dual Incomes). They are constantly harping on about how they have no money and how far in debt they are.
Let me give you a quick scenario which happened recently where an acquaintance was out to lunch, and started whining about how his credit card debt is so high, and it’s going to be really hard to go on vacation with his family this summer. He and his wife just felt that between the car payments, and day care costs it was just getting too much.
I’ll give you a second to read that one over again, just to get the gist of why I might be mildly irked, or peeved about the statement.
What is My Problem?
Let me dissect this simple scenario and why I wanted to stab this acquaintance with a spoon (because it would hurt more!):
- This acquaintance has a wife who also works in a similar job, and thus his family income is effectively twice mine
- We were sitting in a nice restaurant eating lunch (which was going to cost around $30 or so)
- He paid with his credit card
- There was still going to be a family vacation to a cottage, but just not a nice vacation somewhere down south with a hotel
- Same acquaintance “refreshes” their cars every year or two because they don’t like older cars, and they lease all of their cars
If you have twice my income and you complain you don’t have money, you really need help financially. Unless you are sending your income to your family “back home”, supporting a disabled family member or are attempting to recover from a financial catastrophe which left you in dire financial straits, you really have no real reason to be complaining you have no money (or more specifically you don’t have enough money).
What Causes These Problems?
If you are having problems with your cash flow and you are spending too much, stop eating in restaurants.
If you have a massive credit card debt, stop using your credit cards (completely). Do the Gail Vaz-Oxlade money jars thing, put your credit cards in the freezer, or whatever, but simply stop using your credit cards. You can’t fill a hole in that you are continuing to dig at the same time.
Vacation? What the hell is that? Mrs. C8j (my sainted wife) hasn’t been on a descent vacation (with me) for 18 years! Are we complaining? YES, but that is for another time. If you are having financial problems, vacations are the first thing to go.
Leasing cars? Replacing your car every two years? I won’t go into the numbers but you are just burning money for the sake of having a nice car (which evidently is an important part of your self-esteem I hear (I drive an 8 year old Corolla, which better last another 3 years at least, for reference purposes)).
If you think Day Care costs a lot, why doesn’t one of you two cut back your hours? Do the math, how much is this all costing to put kids in Day Care, and “Do the Work Thing”, you might find you are actually in a losing position financially.
My Opinions on Debt Dandies
Sorry, I haven’t ranted much lately about this kind of stuff . No this isn’t one single person it’s a conglomeration of a few acquaintances. I am sure we all have friends like this too.
Oh and to clarify the title of this post:
The problem with some folks who are in debt, is that they won’t shut up about it. They wear debt as a red badge of courage to brag about how badly off they are. This is their own fault, and if they just did something about it, they wouldn’t have these problems.
Don’t BITCH about it, DO something about it!
(or start your own blog and complain about it there)
I have a few friends like that, complaining all the time about money, and when I suggest we meet at my place or theirs they “have to go out because they need a break”, then insist on paying for everyone’s drinks and go home complaining some more about all the things they can’t afford. It gets really old. I gave up trying to give advice because they clearly think they are doing everything right.
Some folks just don’t want help, and I continue to be quite blunt in my commentary for them these days.
21 years and no vacation?? I guess you don’t have enough life insurance on you to make it worth her while to off you then! (grin) I suppose I shouldn’t be giving her ideas! lol
That 25th holiday anniversary trip better be a wonderful trip then!
I recommend a summer trip to Vancouver Island with a couple of those days at Big Tree Cottage on Quadra Island. Super quiet, in the forest far enough from the road to not hear anything. It really is nature, where you can wake with the birds. Outside hot bath for that natural skin glow. It is a single cottage, with the nearest house being the owner’s house about 4-500 yards away. You can also go swim at the lake nearby, or rent kayaks to go paddling but I recommend going with a tour operator unless you are already skilled in a kayak.
Then up to Port Alberni where on the way there you can stop at a rest stop at a forest with trails around some of the oldest trees in BC. Always makes me feel a whole lot smaller in stature when I stand beside a REAL giant!
From there head west to Port Alberni for some salmon fishing. Keep going that way and there are some beaches where you can surf, or boogie board. Water is a bit chilly though. Makes men’s outies become innies! (grin)
Head back east to Nanaimo and do the tourist thing there. Lots of artisans in the area. Then head south to the Victoria area for the touristy things there. Things to not miss are Botanical Beach about 150km west of Victoria, the Sooke potholes outside of Sooke, then Craigdarough Castle (spelling?) and the underwater museum downtown. There is much more, but I am off to bed.
Have a fun trip wherever you go!
I wander around downtown during the summer, listening for French people from back east, and strike up conversations with them. It makes them feel great to talk to someone in their native tongue, and I get some practice!
So, start your planning now for that 25th holiday anniversary trip!
“….hasn’t been on a descent vacation (with me) for 18 years! Are we complaining? YES, but that is for another time.”
Too funny. I hope you get your vacation soon though – whatever it may be!
The thing is, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Folks up to their eyeballs in debt either don’t know and/or don’t care. Bliss can be a wonderful thing but it’s not for me.
I hope to be debt free in 9 years and I can’t friggin’ wait.
At the end of the day it really comes down to you are the one responsible for your finances. I’ve got kids, debt, mortgages and all the same stuff as these people. I’m definitely not in the greatest financial shape but I don’t go around bemoaning it. Rather than bitching about your situation – fix it because you can easily do it if you put your mind to it.
Well put, “Stop yer bitchin!” comes to mind.
You had me at double your income.
I don’t do bad for myself, in fact, I think I do pretty good considering my age. However, that was never an excuse to showboat and it absolutely was never an excuse to spend more than a reasonable person should on day to day stuff. My fiance and I squirrel our money away and love songs like “Thrift Store” because it describes our life.
Blood relatives may not agree. The new cars are important, the needless frills, over spending because “they can”. I don’t want to get into too much detail but some of these family members are very consciously putting themselves into massive amounts of debt and pulling excuses as to why it’s necessary and in the same breath complaining at how they will have to give their first born child to settle said debt.
Enough is enough. Quietly sink under the extreme load of your debt and enjoy every minute of it, or, stop the bleeding. Maybe a photographer at your wedding doesn’t need to cost $4,000 for 6 hours. You would be crazy to think that’s the best you’re going to do or that $4,000 is for some level of quality unseen at the $400 level…
Sorry, I can’t help myself, rant over 🙂
As a Corolla owner I can tell you you’ve made a good choice and (touch wood) the best years are ahead of you. My first Corolla lasted 14 years and I could have kept it going for more, but it needed a $1500 repair and I decided to put the money towards a new Corolla instead. It had already driven across Canada, and driven back and forth across half of Canada a few more times. And it didn’t have a.c. which was starting to get a bit tiresome. This second one is on year 15, and is still running very smoothly and well (touch wood again!) and has more than paid itself out. Some cars cost a bit more when you buy them, like Toyota, because they are made to last. Happy driving!
Agreed, my Corolla works fine for now, and I have had few complaints other than things just wearing out (batteries, brakes, etc.,)
As my friend says “If you measure it, you can control it”. And in personal finance, having a budget is the first and the last thing to getting one’s finances under control. How many people have a complete budget? Almost nobody I think.
I also have an interesting point (to me) about one person’s stay at home. Years ago I worked with an actuary who’s wife was a SAHM. When I asked him how he could afford it, he showed me the numbers:
Take your net income.
Deduct the second car costs, gas, maintenance, insurance, netc.
Deduct all the meals you eat out while at work.
Deduct other work related expenses like clothes.
Deduct an amount for the cost of daycare.
That likely leaves you with a lot lower income than you might think. Then realize you can earn over $9000 per year tax free.
So his wife stayed at home, did something on the side for a small income, and they ended up having to cut back just a few thousand dollars a year out of their income (which is easy for lots of folks – just quit eating out).
To put it another way, you may be working full time for a lot less money than you think you are. That lion’s share of your $40K income is likely going to work-related expenses like cars and daycare.
I think many folks need to take a stark look at this equation and figure out which spouse should give up their job (and there might be more Mr. Moms out there)
You make a good point about people working for much less than they realize. I’ve seen one case where a mom with a part-time job was working for an effectively negative wage.
Very true, I’d love to see if there is an actual spreadsheet or equation to give someone to figure this one out? Sounds like a project for someone.
OoooK. guest blog post? 🙂
If you have it, I will print it!
My wife and I just had a child and I put the numbers through the ringer in order to get them to work. Even deducting all of that stuff, we still need to work full time jobs. My income, even adding up to the tax free income would not cover all of the bills. I am working on changing that by selling our current home to downsize, but that takes time and unfortunately money.
Make sure you are confident of your numbers, but good that you are trying to figure it out.
If you and the Mrs have been together for 18 years maybe it is time to save up for a nice vacation for your 20th?
Nice is relative. Threee weeks in Hawaii would be incredible but maybe 5 days in New York City is more doable. I do not know what part of Canada you live in so if NYC is too far away then head to Vancouver or the wilds of Alberta. Whatever is the right fit for the two of you.
I know your article is about people who spend money they don’t have but you are not those people. You could fit a vacation in to your budget if you started planning now. Rest and rejuvination and a change in scenery are good for the soul and, I suspect, good for the marriage as well.
Mrs. C8j corrected me and pointed out it is 21 years, and we have been married for almost 26 years now.
Surely you could afford a vacation to some place like upper canada village :).
That’s called going to a Basketball Tournament in Cornwall, and Mrs. C8j does not view that as a vacation either!