my wife and i were talking about debt and i asked her how many of our friends she thought carry a significant amount of debt (aside from their home) and i postulated that it must be about 90%. we actually sort of went down a mental list and tried to verify (based on comments that we have heard from them or implications) and we came to realize that that figure was probably pretty close. we have a good number of friends that went on to lots of higher education and carry significant student loans. some just tend to over use their credit cards. just about everyone has a car note (ourselves included).
i guess what it comes down to is that to me debt is a very typical thing and it doesn't have to be a negative, as a lot of people view it. you just have to be able to manage your debt. for example, we have a car note at about 4% that's got a few years left on it. i'm not in any particular hurry to pay that off, because if i put cash away (even in a cd or something else with a guaranteed return), it's probably close to a break even.
what i don't get is how people live off their credit cards. no matter how painful it is, i always pay off my balance. it just pains me to hear that a lot of my friends simply make the minimum payments on their cards each month. i'm trying to grasp where this mentality comes from. i mean credit cards are a pretty recent phenomenon -- i believe they came out in the 70s, but i don't think my generation is dealing with any learning curves from credit. it may be a matter of immediate gratification, but for the most part, i think a lot of my peers that do carry card balances could pay off their balances, but they don't. maybe we're just bad at math. maybe we don't like to write big checks. maybe we're simply overspending. maybe it's the bitch of living that throws some wrenches in our well made plans.
whatever it is, we need to learn that debt is a tool that we can use for our benefit and if we can't, maybe we should learn to live without it.
as an aside, we just saw a musical -- spring awakening -- which was great (the title of this post comes from that show).