Like a new convert, I want everyone to get out of debt. The problem is that just like an after school special (remember those “don’t do drugs” campaigns), not too many people take me seriously. We live in a society where debt is expected, so anyone who claims otherwise can be seen like a nut.
Of course, I am probably way too enthusiastic for most people, charging in to pick up my kids at a church activity and announcing, “Hey, run down to the Giant (grocery store) and do this deal to get free greeting cards!” or pointing out to strangers that the strawberries they are buying are actually Buy One Get One free. Yes, I’m that shopper.
Getting out of debt now seems to get into every conversation. I was talking with another mom as we watched our kids play on the playground. We started talking about monthly expenses (for the record, I didn’t bring it up). After some internal debate, I announced that we had just payed off the minivan. “Wow, I wish we could do that!”
Now came by internal debate. Do I say anything or not? This other mom had the same make and model of minivan that we did, although hers was actually one year older. They probably had a higher income that my own family did, based on their job descriptions.
“Well, it took some hard work plus a lot of things coming together, but I’m really happy that we could do it.” Testing the air.
“For example,” I continued cautiously, “We cut down on eating out to once for date night and once with the kids, spending no more than about $50-$60 a month. I couldn’t believe how much we used to eat out. That saved money went straight to the car payment.”
And now I saw the slight frown on her face as she was probably starting to calculate how much her family might be spending eating out. Here was the pivotal moment, would I lose her?
“That is great, but I’m too busy to cook every night.”
“I know, it is hard to make the time, but..”
It was then that she called her children off of the playground. As normal humans, we don’t want to be faced with the idea that we might have to give something up, that getting out of debt takes some sacrifice.
Sadly, I let her go.