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Wide White: We're all cutting our debt

Friday, December 12, 2008

We're all cutting our debt

My wife and I have been working on this for a while, though admittedly we haven't been aggressive enough until more recently. There's a dangerous safety in having a double income with no kids and it took us a while before we buckled down and decided to live strictly off of my income, putting Jamie's exclusively towards debt (something I think my mom advised me to do long ago). We have no single debt (other than our mortgage) over $6,500 and even with surprises like a recent dental implant - ~$2,500 out of pocket - and other potential unexpected expenses, we should be at $0 by 2010.

I see many people in far worse shape than I am in and I know I have no reason to complain, but I still hate the debt that I have. For all of the "valid" reasons I have for what debt I do carry, it embarrasses me that I've had to borrow money to pay for things that I could not buy myself. For most, there's pride in owning (or paying a bank for) items that reflect your societal status. For me, while some of that no doubt exists, there's more pride in actually owning (not making payments on) what I have. More importantly, there's freedom with being able to give money to others without having to think, "Which debt could I be paying off with this money?"

A few others (thanks for the posts Pat!) that I know have also been working hard to eliminate the burden. And now, it looks like the rest of the country is finally starting to take heed.
Households cut back on debt for first time ever

WASHINGTON - U.S. households, hit by declining home values and stock market losses, have cut back on their debt levels for the first time on record as loans remain scarce amid what appears to be a deepening recession.

The Federal Reserve on Thursday released it latest quarterly look at consumer and business finances showing that households reduced their debt levels by 0.8 percent at an annual rate in the July-September period, the first drop on records that go back more than 50 years.
...
Mortgage debt fell at an annual rate of 2.4 percent in the third quarter, the largest decline on record. Mortgage debt had fallen at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the second quarter. Those two quarterly declines are the first such drops in the Fed survey that dates back to 1952.

[H/T: Owen]
0.8% is a small victory, but it's one I'll take! Until people care about their personal debts, they won't care about our national debts. Our nation's broken financial policy is reflective of our own gluttonous personal financial state. Spending is not the answer to solving this mess. Responsibility is.

If you're struggling, I recommend Dave Ramsey as a solid resource for getting out from under the baggage.

4 Comments:

Blogger Keithslady declared,

I thought you had a spring 2009 plan.... Anyway, if you follow this goal like you have for the fitness you'll do just great with it. Excellent discipline!

Happy Birthday!!

12/14/2008 12:40 AM  
Blogger Joey declared,

We do have a spring plan for part of the debt, but that didn't include everything. We added more (pre-existing debt) to the plan. We're trying to bite off one chunk at a time!

And thanks for the compliments :)

12/15/2008 2:13 PM  
Blogger Pat Stream declared,

Do you think the decline is actual debt reduction by paying it down or are the numbers misrepresented? I've read responses elsewhere to this news that the decline can more likely be attributed to defaults.

12/15/2008 4:39 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

That's an interesting thought. Call me an optimist, but I tend to think there's some real debt reduction there. The economy wouldn't be sliding if people hadn't quit spending on retail and entertainment the way they have. My company has seen a decrease in the number of orders being issued by retailers, and there's a reason for that. You could argue that people were only spending with plastic to begin with, but I have to think there are a number of people who are finally paying down debt loads with money that had been going to retail and entertainment.

I hope that's the case anyway because if it isn't, this recession could last a whole lot longer than it would otherwise...

12/15/2008 6:17 PM  

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