What are you thankful for – family? Friends? Health? What about freedom or a great job? I too am thankful for all of those things. However, I also have something else I’m thankful for that might seem a little odd – credit card debt. Specifically, my credit card debt.
Why would I be thankful for something that brought me to the brink of bankruptcy? The answer is quite simple – it was being in credit card debt that brought me to where I am today financially. Before having debt, I knew little to nothing about managing money. I was financially illiterate to the core and was paying for that illiteracy.
We often think it’s only the “good” things we can be thankful for. In paying off debt, I learned even trials can lead to gratitude. Here are some glimmers of hope to pull out of the trial of debt.
It Taught Me About Myself
Much of my credit card debt came from mindless spending. With the average amount of credit card debt we carry as a culture, some of that is bound to come from mindless spending. Spending triggers often kick off that mindless spending.
Those spending triggers can range from anger to sadness to plain boredom. The result is buying stuff you have no business buying. I learned spending didn’t make me happy. I thought extra stuff would make me happy.
A clear mind shows that extra stuff is just stuff and will bring little to no lasting happiness. I learned what triggers drive me to spend money and have since found ways to channel my energy towards the long-term and not the short-term high of a purchase.
It Taught Me to Attach Value to Time
When I was spending mindlessly, I didn’t stop to think about the time needed to make a purchase possible. Why is this important? You need to be able to see what that purchase costs you in time.
I learned to view spending in terms of how many hours of work my purchases would cost me. This process allows you to see if it’s worth it to you to make said purchase. My family and I do this now as we decide what bills to cut so we can have maximum value for our money. In some instances, the value will be there to spend the money, but in many instances it won’t.
It Taught Me the Result of Poor Choices
In my instance, I had credit card debt due to poor choices. It didn’t matter if I had a bad day at work or was bored; I spent money I didn’t have. Those choices brought about less than desirable circumstances.
In the short-term, I couldn’t go out with friends when I wanted to. I couldn’t purchase things I needed as all my money was going towards debt repayment. In the long-term, I had to delay saving for retirement as all my extra money went to pay down debt. If you’re currently paying off debt, look at what it’s costing you now, and in the future, and use it to drive you never to be in that situation again.
It Taught Me That Money is a Tool
This is the biggest thing that came out of paying off debt. I learned that money is a tool. That tool can enslave you or you can make it work for you. The former is suffocating, the latter breeds freedom. I learned money, when used wisely, can do many good things for you.
The key, however, is to use the tool as it’s meant to be used. In specific terms, that means not financing your present at the expense of the future, but using money to provide for the present and future you want. It means creating a balance that brings financial health, not a future dependent on life support.
Credit card debt can be suffocating. It can also be a gateway to life changing lessons. If you’re currently paying off credit card debt, remember to be thankful for the lessons learned during trials as they can build a foundation for a bright future.