Owing Nothing to Nobody

I have credit cards but they get paid in full, every month. The money gets deducted from my main checking account automatically which is wonderfully convenient. I rent a crummy little apartment and I paid for my car up front. My education was at an inexpensive city college, and my parents paid for that.  I am debt-free.

I’ve never carried debt, and that might not have been the wisest thing for me. Debt is a useful tool; I could be living in a house or condo and put my payments toward equity, but I don’t. I could have leased a car, or at least gotten mine on zero interest rate financing while putting the money to work and getting returns on investment. As for the house, without it I feel free; free to move and unthreatened by unfavorable changes in tax law (remember, I live in high-tax-rate NYC). I could pack my stuff and move anywhere without dealing with selling my place of residence. I also like not being responsible for maintenance: structural, electrical, or plumbing repair, or even mowing grass or shoveling snow. The debt-free thing for me is not about maximizing my net worth, it’s about peace of mind.

My fears aren’t exactly irrational but I’ll acknowledge that my decisions aren’t necessarily wise, in the sense that they cost me money, but debt worries me. What if I lose my job? I’ll still have the debt. If had to move I’d still own the mortgate and I’d have to sell the house. If I crash the car I’d still owe money on it. Debt feels like an anchor, a ball and chain, and I make sacrifices in order not to carry that burden.

Ironically, I’m considered an excellent credit risk – fairly high credit lines and excellent credit ratings – which would be great if, y’know, I were ever going to be inclined to take out a loan. It’s sort-of like having a great pair of lungs which could enable me to do prolonged deep sea diving, while being afraid of the water.

Anyway, money worries don’t keep me up at night, and that’s enough.

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