Have you ever wondered why debt is just another part of being a successful individual? Or has it become such an integral part of who we are that you’ve never really questioned it’s existence or role in our economic culture of loans and monthly car payments?
As a kid I watched the terrifying effects of severe debt take hold over our family after my dad had multiple surgeries on his knee and back. Each operation came with 6 weeks to 6 months off of work, thousands of dollars in hospital bills, and a growing stack of unpaid bills on the kitchen counter.
Although things were not easy, we were by no means the only family to struggle with debt. So many people get too far in over their heads with it, even if it’s not necessarily their fault. My dad didn’t ask to have his knee reconstructed multiple times before they finally replaced it. He didn’t ask for the ridiculously overpriced medical bills. Who ever does?
Unfortunately it seems to have become just a part of living our lives, but does that mean we should just accept it as it is? Before I even started my first semester of college I had made a decision that I would not get into any more debt than I needed to; I was able to get through my first semester in college with mostly federal loans, and by time I transferred to the school I am at now I was able to get through with scholarships, grants, and a couple federal loans that seemed manageable.
I’ve never had a car payment. I’ve never taken out a loan to get a new laptop or to jump-start my “move out and get an apartment” fund. The idea of spending the next 15 to 20 years paying off student loans is enough to make me cringe, so my goal was to stay away from getting into debt that I didn’t need.
As my semester at Oxford draws nearer, however, I’ve had to accept a fact that I don’t really like accepting: my scholarships and grants aren’t going to be enough to get me through this semester. This isn’t that much of a surprise, but the last few days have been more than stressful as I’ve compared my options and pulled out unhealthy amounts of hair off my head in the process.
I guess I just don’t fully understand why almost every single college graduate will graduate with a piece of paper and more debt than they can handle. I love college. I love learning new things and preparing myself for a future career in writing or editing. I am blessed to go to a school that is more than affordable compared to many others, but as I prepare to go to one of the most prestigious schools in the World, I’m beginning to look at this whole debt thing a little more closely.
I don’t have any answers to half of the questions I’ve asked, but I think that many of us might need to reevaluate how we look at debt. Our economic culture is bathed in debt, and I understand why that is to a certain degree, but what if we’ve overlooked something? What if there is a better way?
Comment Question: How has our debt culture affected your life? Do you try to stay away from it, or do you embrace it? Let me know in the comment section down below.