What about all the FUN debt gave you?

This is going to sound weird or stupid, but isn’t *going into* debt so much fun???! Like, don’t we enjoy spending money on stuff we love – even if it’s only in the moment?

As finance nerds we tend to focus on how terrible debt is and how much we hate it etc etc, but I think we forget just exciting it can be to buy stuff too :)

I mean, why else would people willingly go into debt if they weren’t getting something awesome in return? Do you know anyone who goes out of their way to buy stuff they HATE?

Of course not. That would be ridiculous.

But that’s how we’ve been groomed to think now! That all debt is stupid and we didn’t get anything good out of it!

I was reminded of this when I was chatting with The Debt Free Guys recently and they asked what the most credit card debt people ever had was… Theirs was $51,000 (!!) and I responded that my max was probably around the $2,000 range. They said how they wish they had been “more like me” growing up, and I remarked that they probably had a $hit ton more fun than I did! Lol…

And I guarantee that is at least 95% true. Especially at the $50,000 mark!!

Do you know how much fun trouble you can get into with $50k???! All the while I was watching my pennies and scraping by as a poor college student every day?! 

That’s not to say I didn’t have any fun in those days, or that I wish I could have switched places with them – I wouldn’t – but just that, again, we tend to only think of the *bad* stuff relating to debt and none of the perks we once got from it.

Even my smaller $2,000 debt included tons of great stuff like beers on the town, meals out, road trips and even part of a brand new iBook I got straight out of college! Had I had to pay with cash at the time I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy such sweet luxuries. And that wouldn’t have made life enjoyable, especially at that time in life when you’re just starting out in the working world without a penny to your name…

So while debt is “bad” and most of us hate getting into it, the fact still remains that at one point we did very much enjoy indulging in it or else we wouldn’t have done it in the first place. Emergencies and special circumstances aside, of course. We’re dumb as humans, but not that dumb!

I’m not sure why I chose to argue this point today, haha, but maybe it’ll help any of you feeling down on yourself as if Past You was a big idiot and you wish you could have done things differently :)

Maybe you would have knowing what you know now, but be glad you woke up when you did and try not to be so harsh with yourself. You had a good reason back then to take on the debt, even if you don’t agree with it now!

And how cool that we even have the *option* to go after things we want without needing the money for it?! Sure it gets us into trouble more often than not, but that’s on *US* for misusing it, not the tool itself. Similar to money it’s the user that determines whether good or bad is done with it, which also means WE HAVE ALL THE POWER in the relationship! And that’s pretty bad ass, right?!

So get empowered again and acknowledge the debt for what it is, but also remember that at one time you were a great match for each other and thank it for serving its purpose 💪

You’re smarter now and will eventually say goodbye forever, but for now you’re still in a committed relationship so do your best to co-exist until it’s finally wiped away… Like your exes, you sure had some great times together!

Yours in debt-freedom-but-not-fun-freedom,

j. money signature

PS: I know that all debt isn’t “fun” debt and sometimes you have to pay the bills and there are emergencies and yada yada yada – that’s not the debt I’m talking about here. I’m talking about all the kinds that gave you “stuff” or experiences in return for slapping ’em on the card… It’s not like we got nothing in return for it!

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  1. Paul July 25, 2022 at 9:56 AM

    It creeps up on you fast. I find that if I relax and say nothing about our spending for even just a couple of months we will typically overspend our earnings by $2-$3K a month… Also, its exhausting always being THAT guy…

    It is to the point, I am trying to figure out our best path forward. I can just use Credit for only fixed bills and debit for everything else… I’m not sure Credit is the right sustained choice for us given our history, reward points be damned. The biggest thing is I would have to set us up with multiple accounts. Our fixed costs would need to be immediately separated from our variable cost account. Not sure if that’s the right way to do it, I’m sure someone on here has worked it out already though.

    1. J. Money July 25, 2022 at 4:03 PM

      Wait, so are you thinking it’s the flexibility of the credit cards that’s getting you into trouble and not cash flow issues? $2k-$3k seems like a lot of “extras” that you don’t notice piling up?

      If this is true, then HELL YEAH to trying out new systems and seeing if that squashes it! $hit – even if you got it down to only $500 or $1,000 more a month it would be worth it. Probably annoying to set up but worth it!

      Or maybe you can create some sort of “blow” account with $500 or $1,000 in it where you can purposely spend through it at will each month but once it’s gone it’s gone so you don’t go overboard? I bet that would feel drastically better too since it’s more planned than cringing at the end of every month!

      1. Paul July 26, 2022 at 9:03 AM

        Yes, based on the numbers alone we should have an extra $600-$1000 a month in excess (depending on how hard we go on variable purchases). What I am saying is that, It’s not that I don’t notice it piling up. I’m just tired of having to be the Mr. Krabs of our family.

        This wasn’t an issue when we first got married and used only debit and kept the credit cards for only large planned purchases and in the event of an emergency that exceeded our emergency fund. I’m thinking we may need a return to those days and everything will work itself out.

        1. J. Money July 26, 2022 at 9:51 AM

          Ahhh yeah, sounds like a fun Come to Jesus meeting is in your future soon :) Bring lots of wine and make a date out of it and maybe it’ll go over a lot easier?! Lol… I bet she doesn’t even fully understand the extra debt that’s piling up so you’ll prob be good once it’s all aired more in the open.

    2. rae July 26, 2022 at 11:10 AM

      Hey Paul – in case you are interested in systems that work for other people, we finally figured out something that got us off the “holy hell, we spent HOW much?!” roller coaster and didn’t even end up being a big fight.

      It is super low tech, but it works for us. We use a spiral notebook.. So we get paid every 2 weeks, thus we pay our bills together every 2 weeks. At the end of bill paying, I turn to a new page in the notebook and on the top line, I write today’s date and the amount of our next paycheck (or paychecks depending), rounded down to the nearest $100. Then, underneath it, I add a line for the savings and bills that we expect to get in the next 2 weeks as well as any pending charges on each of our active cards. One line for each expense. Each amount gets subtracted from the previous total, so we have a running balance at all times.

      Then we proceed to charge all of our expenses on credit cards to rack up those sweet points lol.

      Regardless of which credit card is used when we are out of the house, we get the receipt on paper and as soon as we come home, we add a line to the notebook and subtract the new charge from what we had available. If we buy something online, same thing (except no paper receipt) – we write it down and subtract the amount from what is available.

      Then 2 weeks later we pay all the bills, including the charges accrued on our cards. No fuss, no fights, and we both know how much we have at any given time.

      1. Revanche July 29, 2022 at 11:23 AM

        I love this! I do something similar in Excel now that our spending habits are in alignment but I definitely have old notebooks chock full of notes listing our fixed expenses and what wiggle room we have and when for variable expenses. It really helped us get on the right page, no pun intended.

  2. freddy smidlap July 25, 2022 at 2:40 PM

    i had fun with debt in the 90’s. went for drinks at the beverly hills hotel. i still onw a gucci shirt and tie from rodeo drive on one of those trips. i front loaded the free wheeling fun of life and then had to spend some time digging out but it didn’t take forever.

    fast forward 15-20 years and we have a big pile of investment money and all those memories.

    1. J. Money July 25, 2022 at 3:53 PM

      There we go!!

      Life is much more bland without Beverly Hills and Gucci shirts, lololol..

  3. Kat Euliano July 25, 2022 at 2:49 PM

    Thank you for the post, it reminded me of all the fun I had celebrating my son’s birthday each year. Yes, that was why I went into debt. That was years ago & I’m proud to say we are in a much better place financially with no debt to our names. When we didn’t have much, our son never knew we were struggling. Good times!

    1. J. Money July 25, 2022 at 3:54 PM

      If you have to go into debt that is a worthy way of doing it!

      Love it.

  4. Steveark July 25, 2022 at 3:15 PM

    Good point that there’s a reason people get into debt, the fun you can have. But if you were raised like I was then you couldn’t enjoy anything you could not afford to pay cash for. The idea of borrowing money to have a good time would have prevented it from being a good time for me. So it wasn’t willpower, it was the inability to borrow money and enjoy what it could buy. That was simply impossible thinking for me. It was in the same category to me as knocking over a liquor store to get some money, crazy talk. Both my parents and my wife’s didn’t ever borrow money, except for buying a house that you then paid off as quickly a possible. I guess it was a form of self limiting behavior.

  5. J. Money July 25, 2022 at 3:57 PM

    Haha yeah, I get that… And a better “problem” to have than the opposite ;)

    Reminds me of a line I read earlier this week that some people derive much more pleasure out of *making money* than *spending it* which I 100% fall into myself… Unless it’s something that excites the pants off me it takes a bit for me to hand over those beautiful dollars…

  6. Katie @SolopreneurCafe July 25, 2022 at 4:22 PM

    My parents got into debt when they were older because it wasn’t that easy until sometime in the 80s to get a general card like Visa/MC/Amex. Ultimately I paid their legal fee (to an old schoolmate of mine, as it turned out) to declare bankruptcy at around $42K of debt, which was the same as my mother’s gross salary at the time. My dad delivered newspapers, which essentially paid for car repairs for…delivering papers. Anyway, some of that was my dad accumulating useless crap – as did his mother and most of his 9 sisters and brothers. But then there’s the Mom Factor. She bought nothing for herself, but charged things her young adult children couldn’t afford – $3K of my brother’s tuition, wisdom tooth extractions, replacing my sister’s bald tires, stuff like that. She still likes buying tires for one of my sisters, who unfortunately picked up my father’s habit of spending on crap. So yeah, the family history of credit card debt is 10-20% pleasure (eating out, hotel rooms) and the rest is necessity or pathological crap. Would MUCH rather have the good times you had to show for it!

    1. J. Money July 26, 2022 at 10:13 AM

      Ugh yeah, that’s a whole other situation – I’m sorry :( Love the heart of your mom though and her tires!! That is so sweet, haha…

  7. Adam July 26, 2022 at 8:23 AM

    A nice Italian road bike. I was nineteen, making six dollars an hour at the bike shop just off campus. I went eight hundred bucks into credit card debt getting it at employee purchase price. Hundreds of rides, thousands of miles, Maryland and DC and Virginia and North Carolina and South Carolina… dozens of friends… that bike unlocked so many hours of camaraderie and joy. Replacing parts as necessary throughout, I sold it seven years later for roughly what I paid.

    Definitely worth going into a few months of debt. Thanks for reminding me!

    1. J. Money July 26, 2022 at 9:51 AM

      That sounds so delightful :)

  8. The Frugal Gay July 29, 2022 at 11:27 AM

    When I wake up on Fridays I get excited for my budgetsaresexy email. J Money- you brighten my day and I truly appreciate that.

    1. J. Money July 29, 2022 at 11:50 AM

      best compliment a guy can get, jeez… thank you 🙏 🙏 So glad you’re getting something out of them!!

  9. Revanche July 29, 2022 at 11:27 AM

    I was just talking to JB about debt yesterday! We talked about useful debt like mortgages or car loans and how they cost money, and then the more expensive debt like credit card debt. Since my dad was similar to Kate’s, I did NOT talk about how debt could buy you fun, I simply don’t think that way but you do have a point for some of the debt incurring choices my parents made. I wouldn’t have met my grandparents if they hadn’t charged international flights to the credit card. If it had only been limited to that kind of life changing stuff, I think I’d be more relaxed about debt in general.

    1. J. Money July 29, 2022 at 11:55 AM

      yup yup… some people’s minds are all kinds of jacked up on debt drugs and that’s a whole other situation for sure… can’t even whisper a benefit of debt to them or they’ll snort the whole thing!! lol…


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