Debt Should Not Be Normal

I know I am going to upset some people, but that is OK because upset people tend to get thinking, and thinking is good.

In a recent post, I talked about how my husband and I were knee deep in debt when we first got married, and how we slowly but surely made our way to a pretty good financial situation.  In the comments, a reader stated, “I really do applaud those who power through and get results keep up the great work, but if at your best your still drowning don’t feel so bad about it your [sic] the norm not the exception.”

Oh, gosh, how that got me worked up.  I absolutely hate it when I meet people who feel that they can’t control their own lives.  Makes me crazy, and it also makes me sad.  It makes me sad because we all have control over the choices that we make, and it also makes me sad because if you accept that debt is “the norm,” then you will never have the burning desire to make it go away.

As little as two generations ago, debt was almost a bad word.  Most people only ever borrowed money to buy a house, and the plan was to pay for the house.  Ever heard of a mortgage burning party?  In the past, some people would have a celebration when they paid off their mortgage, with different traditions in different parts of the US.  Being completely debt free was a desirable state, and friends and families celebrated together when it happened.

It seems like society has done a complete turn around from this desired state of being debt free.  Kids take out huge loans to pay for college, and then for a new car, and then for a house.  Throw in some credit cards and a home equity line of credit, and you are effectively yolked to your debt for your entire life.  It is not healthy, and it should not be normal.  However, my experience tells me that many people do think that it is normal.

For me, the worst part is that so many people do see debt as being inevitable, and therefore they don’t even try to work against it.  Without the overwhelming desire to be debt free, it will never happen.  In today’s world, it takes active effort to become and remain debt free.  If you’ve already accepted debt as an acceptable part of your life, then where will you find the energy and enthusiasm to make those hard choices?

I’m curious what you all think?  Do you believe debt is inevitable, or are you actively working to eliminate your debt?  Do you think you will always have a car payment?  Do you ever think you will pay off your credit cards?  Does your behavior line up with your expectations?  What could I saw to tell you that you can change your financial future?

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • brandon

    dave ramsey

  • Daniel

    “We’re seduced by the media into buying all the things we “should” own (“We deserve it!”),” should read , We’re seduced by our egos into wanting to show off and let the world know we’ve “stuff”. Maybe we as a nation could have a national day of “I’m out of debt” celebration.
    It’s so nice to roll over and sleep instead of staying up trying to balance the checkbook.

    • KateKashman

      Daniel, I have to admit, I’ve never gotten the “show off and let the world know we’ve stuff” thing. I buy stuff for me, not for other people’s impression of me. I’m sure there are some of each sort of people in the world. The psychology of spending is fascinating!

  • guest

    Good to know I wasn’t the only one that shook my head at that comment. The saddest part is that the children will be raised with the same “drowning in debt is normal” mentality so it then becomes an entire family in slavery to lenders. I get not wanting to do certain things, but that’s just it…it’s not that you CAN’T get out of debt it’s that they don’t want to. Or at least they don’t want to make hard sacrifices temporarily while doing so. If getting out of debt was easy, no one would be in debt in the first place