Monday, August 16, 2004

School or Children? The High Price of Credit Debt

School. That’s where I should be going and what I should be doing. I should be pursuing a degree in history or in theology. I don’t know how I will earn a living from either, but that is where my bliss is and life keeps going forward, one day at a time and I am getting older.

So why aren’t I enrolling somewhere?

Fear. I’m afraid I would put us back into debt just so that my ego can chase it’s dream. By the time I got out with a PhD I would be in my forties. Who wants to hire a person that old to teach or do research? Because those are essentially the two positions open to people with higher degrees in history or theology. What would I do if I could not find a job?

Money is a fear as well. Due to my own stupidity I still have $45,000 in student loans to pay off and I have no degree to show for it. There are days when I could slit my wrists over how stupid I was. Let’s assume I am able to pay off all of my credit debt and then I go to school.

That decision would answer the question of whether or not I have children. The answer would be no. I would already be borrowing against my future to go to school; it would be unfair to borrow against their future as well. I have no retirement. Lisa is the one with the 401k.

Children should all be given secured credit cards at age thirteen—cards with predefined limits set by parents. They should be encouraged to get several hundred dollars in debt and then get to pay it back whilst fighting against compound interest. They should be allowed to be late on a payment or two so that they can see what 24% interest is like. By doing this with a secured card they will learn what happens when you incur credit debt without destroying their future (the debt would be manageable—they could not go over $500 in debt). Then they would be prepared for what will happen to them if they get into credit debt.

There is no good credit debt. The closest I have heard of anything like that was when my friend Robbie was diagnosed with Hodgekins disease and had no insurance. She racked the cards up and had to declare bankruptcy (Robbie is an incredibly responsible person. She did not do that to screw the credit card companies, she did it to save her life). Of course, now bankruptcy does not work that way—kids who get in over their heads are now allowed to drown, courtesy of the fine folks who give them these cards, try to hide from them how they work via unbelievably low introductory interest rates and then stick it to them.

I had no idea that poor decisions I made in 1993 would cause me to sit here now and say, well, I can pursue the future I want and the career I want or I can have a child. That is where I am right now. I can’t afford both.

Great Goddess, Mother of all, Brigit, I want to thank You for keeping me sober today, as I know You will. I am going to let go of those fears and resentments outlined right here. I am going to give those over because You can fix them, I cannot. I ask a prayer for Linda with her upcoming surgery. Be with our soldiers around the world. I thank You for Your bounty. I am grateful for it all, today.

Blessed Be.