A few weeks ago, after we received our tax return, I came up with a very reasonable, responsible plan to pay off some of our credit card debt with a substantial portion of the amount. I even projected my plan into next year with the goal of eventually paying of our debt entirely.
I’m sure my current position as budgeting instructor has contributed significantly to my fabulous life strategy.
Playin’ the game to win, baby.
But here’s what happened.
Real life and the cyber world conspired to place within earshot one too many conversations about the end of civilization as we know it. Since making my brilliant plan, but luckily not yet sending in the check, I’ve heard lots of talk of global warming/peak oil consumption/terrorists getting nukes/ and other nail biting scenarios in which the fire pit out back becomes the hearth of our home and whatever seeds a person happened to buy for their garden lately is what they’re gonna eat for the next, well, forever.
My thought has shifted to: I’m gonna waste the bird we have in our hand on something pretend like a credit score?
A game changing world event could come along any second. And if it does, are the credit card people going to be banging on my door? No, they’re gonna be in their own corner of the planet, trying to build a fire pit in their backyard. Wishing they’d bought seeds instead of another yacht.
So I can blow a wad on paying them back, or I can spend that money on real items that might help my family survive in our own corner.
Even more than the actual money is how I FEEL about each decision. When I was in the mind frame of paying a lot toward credit cards: trapped, small, controlled, sad, resigned, low. I’m never going to win the game. It’s definitely rigged. Once you’ve agreed to play, you’ve lost. You can lose more or less, you have some control over how far you’re gonna bend over, but you’re gonna lose.
Once I entertained the possibility of continuing to pay a bit more than the monthly minimum (after all, I’m not out to default on my agreements) and invest the rest in our life and our actual future: alive!, powerful, engaged, real.
I’m sure the credit card companies would be thrilled with this plan. After all, the longer it takes me to pay them off, the more they get.
But if the ship goes down, I’m swimming away without looking back. They can keep their numbers and their scores and we’ll just call it good.
And even if it means paying more in the long run, it might be worth it to buy this feeling of control.