On the crushing stress of debt.

May 13th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Finance | Soapbox

In which I lecture.

This article advises you to immerse yourself in all the miserable details of your debt, and feel how bad you feel for an entire week, because apparently remorse and guilt will somehow magically attract money into your life. Because your debt is the result of your own terrible emotional flaws, and not a system set up to put you in debt.

“Unconscious spending habits”? Like you’re somehow not aware your outgo is higher than your income? “Messy money practices”? How is being poor in a rich society a messy money practice? Don’t spend any money for a whole day! Fuck you, person who wrote this article who has obviously never been broke a day in her life. Poor people tend to have to buy every day, because they can’t afford to purchase in bulk.

When you’re living hand-to-mouth, you tend to buy food and gas daily, in small increments, with the ten bucks you have to your name. You can’t go buy $150 worth of sensible groceries to last you for the next three weeks of frugal meal-planning, because you don’t have $150. You can’t cross town and fill your tank at the one gas station with the lowest prices, because you don’t have enough gas to get over there, in the first place, and even if you did, you have to eat so you couldn’t even buy a quarter tank anyway.

These sorts of articles about debt, about writing it all down in excruciating detail, living cash-only, really getting a handle on it… they’re all bullshit. You fuckheads have literally no idea what you’re talking about.

To fix debt, you need money. That’s it. Emotionally torturing yourself with your poverty, in minute detail? For an entire week? Is just weird. You already know you own more than you can pay. You’ve already tried to earn more. This isn’t psycho-fucking-therapy, it’s math.

I repeat: only money fixes debt. Nothing else. Not guilt, not self-recrimination, not even more austerity. Just money.

Odds are you’re not in debt for making extravagant decisions. You’re probably in debt because you were given a line of credit you could not support, by a greedy corporation eager to exploit human nature, were or are un- or underemployed through no fault of your own, or went to college to get a degree that doesn’t boost your earning capability (because that’s what they said you were supposed to do and you were compliant).

Very, very few people live beyond their means in the sense of buying too many extravagant things. Paying rent and bills, buying food and clothes, and having the same sorts of extras everybody else in your class has (like vacations and iPhones) is not extravagant.

Most people in debt are in debt because their employers don’t pay them enough to live like the rest of their class lives, or because they can’t get any or enough work. Not because they’re greedy or lazy. The numbers show most poor people actually work more than full-time.

Wages have remained stagnant for the past thirty years. You’re not earning what your parents earned at your age, and yet society expects you to do what they did and buy a house, get married, have two cars so you can both get to work, have new cell phones every two years, own a sufficiency of linens and dishes and furniture and be able to afford hobbies and toys.

Having to choose between groceries and the dentist is bullshit, but being told to take better notes and avoid spending for an entire day to get out of debt isn’t advice, it’s abuse.

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