I’m constantly reading blog posts and news articles to keep up to date on what’s going on in the personal finance world, but for the last little while there’s one subject that always seems to pop up – debt. Sometimes debt is good, most times debt is bad, but the underlying theme I keep finding is that having debt is normal.
Don’t get me wrong, I think articles and blogs dedicated to helping people get out of debt are great. There’s also no denying that a lot (if not most) people carry some form of debt. As found on CTV News’ website, in 2013 the average Canadian consumer’s non-mortgage debt hit $27,743. That’s a scary number! That being said, as a blogger who isn’t in debt and managed to pay off what little debt she had 9 months after graduating university, I often feel like the odd man out in the personal finance world and wonder why there isn’t as much attention put on the importance of preventing debt in the first place.
Listen, I don’t have some inspirational story of racking up $50,000 in credit card and student loan debt, then being able to pay it all off in less than 2 years. I get why media outlets like publicizing these stories because they are attention-grabbing and who doesn’t love a rags to riches story, but even still, I think we’d all be a bit better off without most of them. The more debt stories I read, the more I feel abnormal for not being in the red like everyone else.
Debt is not normal, and sure it’s great when people are able to pay off their debts, but they have to anyway. They got themselves into that situation in the first place, and I’m not sure it’s such a good thing to be sending out the message that if you get into debt, then eventually get yourself out, that should be something to be praised and congratulated for.
Personally, I’m inspired by stories about people who continue to live debt-free or have managed to save money and be creative in order to avoid debt altogether. I think real success stories are those of people who can maintain their frugal and financially free lifestyles. I know it’s not easy getting out of debt, but making sure you don’t get back into or have never gotten into it is just as hard. We need to stop normalizing debt, and talk more about how to prevent it in the future.
What do you think? Do you think debt has been normalized?