A Life Without Debt: Am I a More Organized, Responsible Person?

The other day, a friend and I were having a general conversation about personal finance. My friend began by complaining about some debt he has and then he mentioned how he had no idea what he had in his checking account and how he kept getting hit with overdraft fees. He kept railing at the bank for charging him and I finally had enough. I mentioned that it doesn’t take that long to balance a checkbook and that if he would just take five minutes a day to write down his receipts, he would know what he had. I think this person was having a bad day to begin with and my comment, which I intended to be helpful, not snarky, rubbed him wrong and he went off.

“I guess you think that bec


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6 Responses to A Life Without Debt: Am I a More Organized, Responsible Person?

  1. Stacy Adcock says:

    I agree and I beleive your friend “chooses” not to apply himself to a goal of becoming debt free. My friends who continue to live life in debt choose that lifestyle. They wouldn’t entertain the thought of cutting off cable TV or lowering the phone bill or balancing the checkbook and that’s the choice they make.

  2. Monkey Mama says:

    We’re in general responsible people (noticeable compared to many in our generation, really).

    & I think that is REALLY the key. You don’t know how many conversations I have had with friends who made all sorts of excuses for being up in debt up to their eyeballs. Everything is everyone else’s fault, so why bother trying, right?

    This REALLY came to light recently when a couple of different people told me I was lucky I never had any financial setbacks. All my success is chalked up to LUCK. HUH? Who said I never had setbacks? We just suck it up and move on instead of whining about it for the rest of our lives. That is what responsible people do.

    Organization helps and makes it a little easier. Of course, you could argue that responsible people are organized. I am actually not a highly organized person by nature. I prefer chaos on some level. I don’t care if things are askew. But to function, I need to know where things are. I am organized as I need to be.

  3. bRobert says:

    I can identify with both of you. I’m debt free as of February. I finished paying off over $30k in debt starting November 2006.

    I occasionally overdraft as well, but its not because I don’t have the money, but enough money in the right account. My wife and I have difficulty with budgeting and keeping track of things.

    It has helped that we have one checking account for bills and one for expenses. I put the average of the last six months expenses in the expenses account, and the rest goes into savings. Sometimes we both go crazy with the little purchases and empty our expenses account, resulting in a overdraft. But when we are out, we are out, and don’t rob from the other accounts. We make ourselves feel the pain, regardless of how stressful it is.

    I guess I would say that it is possible to be somewhat disorganized and irresponsible with money and still be debt free. But I am always amazed that people much more educated and intelligent than I continue to make the dumbest financial mistakes. Risking the security of their families because they want more stuff. Oh well…

  4. Jackie says:

    It is possible, in this instance, that he was just complaining to complain. He might have lashed back because you assumed he was complaining in the hopes that you could offer a solution rather than commiserating company. Of course, just because he is complaining doesn’t mean you have to be sympatheric especially for something so easily rectified.

    As for luck – haha. Literally 10 minutes ago one of my coworkers was congratulating me on my plans to pay off my car tomorrow. She said, “that’s great, you’re so lucky!” On one hand, I am lucky. I haven’t had any recent misfortunes (car wrecks, hospital visits, etc). But on the other hand, it isn’t luck that I’ve been systematically putting more and more money towards my car loan. Just like it isn’t luck that I’m then going to put more effort into bulking up my emergency fund and my down payment fun for my first house.

    Oh well, I just take it at face value and take the well wishes. :)

  5. baselle says:

    Ah, I think you both missed a teaching moment – something as simple as complementing him on the organization of his garage, and reminding him that his garage is like your bank account. He knows where all his tools are, you know where all your dollars are.

    Money holds a strange place in our society – its one of the few items where people are encouraged and even rewarded to be “bad” with it – witness BUY BUY of ads and the message that “thrift is good – but this is no time to be thrifty-paradox of thrift” hammering that savers have heard in the last year.

    Consider yourself a free spirit willing to buck the system.

  6. minny says:

    Monkey Mama, I am with you there. What others see is what people like you and I have on top of what they have. In their minds the debt free simply have more money to start with – as well as an easier life.

    It never occurs to them that maybe the others don’t spend all they have and more. That they live below their means and save the balance. That they exercise self-control that they are not self indulgent, they don’t think they ‘deserve’ those little luxuries and treats on a daily or even weekly basis!

    Yup, responsible is the word here!

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