The Cold Hard Truth: Debt is STUPID and You Might Be Too!!

Seriously…This is Where Behavior Meets Reality!

Are you in debt up to your eyeballs and wondering how come you just can’t get ahead? This may surprise you since I do not know you, but I do know the answer. It’s real simple and really not a secret, especially here on Enemy of Debt. Wanna hear it? DEBT IS STUPID!! Plain and simple, and if you have debt then it could be said in all seriousness that you have been stupid too. The act of going into debt for ANYTHING is stupid, with the exception of mortgage and most of you know how I feel about that one.

There’s nothing smart about going into debt. It’s not sophisticated. It’s not a tool to help people get ahead. In fact, it’s one of the dumbest things an individual or aย  family can do to their financial situation. Dave Ramsey calls people stupid all the time on the radio for some of the decisions they make financially, and he gets attacked constantly for saying so. Let me just say it. Dave Ramsey is right!! 100% right! Perhaps Forest Gump said it best when he stuttered; “Stupid is as stupid does.”

I know the truth hurts, because it devastated me when I realized I was handling money like a compulsive gambler. (In debt, living paycheck to paycheck, with no end in sight.) Quite frankly, I considered myself stupid for not caring enough about myself and my family to start making less selfish decisions financially. It IS a selfish act! Some people MOST people try to justify their debt by giving some long drawn out reason as to why debt was right for them. They explain in great detail why their situation was different. (Don’t be fooled, those are just excuses that really make your problem even more serious.)

An excuse is just a reason to keep doing what you’ve been doing.

Before I go any further let me make ONE exception. I always get emails from people that feel I was talking to them, and sometimes I was, BUT I do believe that sometimes, at certain stages in life, there are people that are forced into debt because of no fault of their own. The best example would be unforeseen medical expenses for people just starting out in life. I know that people sometimes have things happen to them that they can’t control. If you have medical debt that was obviously too large to be paid off then I am not talking to you.

UNLESS…you lived your entire life thinking nothing bad would ever happen to you, and never thought twice about preparing for your future. In which case, I am definitely talking to you! That’s why they call it financial planning. You have to plan for the unforeseen emergencies in life, there’s no other option!!

If you were in debt before your medical debt, I am talking to you! If that’s the case then you cannot use “I have medical expenses” as your excuse to having debt. You quite possibly could have prevented your medical debt by utilizing a tried and true method called “financial planning”. Most likely you just haven’t accepted responsibility for what you did, or in this case didn’t do.

Now That You Hate Me, Let Me Explain

Just because you justify it in your head, doesn’t mean you couldn’t have taken a different route. It doesn’t mean that you are free of responsibility. It just means you are in denial, and are basically willing to keep living a lie. As they say, the truth shall set you free, and this couldn’t be more true when it comes to how you handle your money. That is the main reason I don’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings when I write about money.

If you are acting stupid with your money, the best thing that can happen to you is to have your feelings ripped apart. You deserve to be slapped in the face with the reality that you are wasting away GOLDEN OPPORTUNITIES to live the life you want, the life you desire, even the life you deserve. The one thing that is keeping you from it—is your DEBT! While society has made you believe that you had to have a car payment, a bloated mortgage, and everything else under the sun simply because your little heart desired it, society has set you up for failure.

Let me just say it. I USED to be a COMPLETE MORON with my money!! I was a raging idiot with my families security! I was dumb! I was selfish! I was VERY irresponsible! There’s no other way to say it. I was ABSOLUTELY STUPID!

The fact is that being stupid really only means that you have failed to assert yourself in a way that makes you a stronger person. Stupid isn’t a permanent state of being, and a person that has acted stupid can suddenly become smart, by simply holding themselves responsible for where they are RIGHT NOW.

If you are broke and living paycheck to paycheck, it’s your fault! If you have maxed out credit cards, it’s your fault! If you have debt and absolutely no savings in the bank, you are by definition doing something stupid! It is stupid not to prepare for life! It is stupid to blame everyone else for your financial problems. It is completely stupid to go through life with the windows down, care-free, with debt behind the wheel. Debt is then controlling your every move! Is that NOT stupid?

Here’s the thing. You don’t have to be stupid. You don’t have to accept debt as the only way to have things in life. I actually feel a little sick to my stomach when I hear people spout that off as if it were true. Here’s what I actually hear when someone says they needed to go into debt for a car or some materialistic self-esteem builder, more commonly referred to as stuff.

“I’m too lazy and spoiled to make a plan and save money to buy the things I really can’t afford.”

Debt is SUCKING YOU DRY!

Wake up and smell the coffee! It will be the best thing that ever happened to you. It sure changed my life. Dave Ramsey called me stupid and yes my feelings were hurt a bit, but it worked. If you have debt I am calling you stupid because I know that you can do much better, much smarter things with your money. I know that your next door neighbor, and even your family, will lead you to the same place they are headed—the poor house. That’s a place with no hope, where people just accept what society has deemed “normal”. It may be normal to have debt, but it IS NOT the smartest way to live your life. It’s the dumbest!

Debt will keep you pinned down! If you have debt, you will work your ENTIRE life paying it off. Count on it. That social security check you are counting on to bail you out….all I can say about that is keep dreaming. Our government, and governments around the world are so incompetent when it comes to managing money, it’s no wonder the world is in the economic state that it is in. Social security is a joke, and why would you place your retirement in the hands of people who clearly have no idea how to manage it anyway? The government’s idea of managing money is to either print money out of thin air, or to raise taxes, and often both. (Sigh) I digress.

Without really opening that can of worms, my point is that it is up to YOU. You can’t rely on anyone else but yourself!

I have done so many stupid things with money, and almost all of them involved debt. At least now, if I do something stupid with my money I am not paying for it for years. As I said above,ย  I was a complete idiot when it came to managing money until I realized I was the one person in control of where I was headed financially. But most importantly when I realized what was keeping me from breaking the paycheck to paycheck cycle that debt ensures, I got smart and so can you!

We have not borrowed in more than two years, have no debt, and have a real life emergency fund that keeps us warm at night. I never dreamed it was possible to have nearly $8,000 saved for emergencies. I used the same excuses you have probably used. Yes, I once accepted that I “needed” a new car, lots of new stuff, and a place to store it all. I was so STUPID!!

What I needed was a different plan. A plan that wasn’t going to leave me retired and broke, with my hands out hoping that the government was going to raise taxes so it could support me. We have been able to save, give and even spend like never before. The sacrifice isn’t permanent but it IS necessary, IF you want to actually enjoy your life. In the case of debt, happiness is in what you don’t have, not in what you do have. Get rid of your debt and then tell me I am wrong! I challenge you to do so. You will find that the only pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the one that you provide and fill up yourself. Get to filling it!

If I hurt your feelings, it’s only because I care about you, and your future. Telling you lies will get you no where and fast.

Don’t be stupid, be smart…GET OUT OF DEBT, and do it now!!! You’ll be so glad you did.

About Brad Chaffee

42 Responses to “The Cold Hard Truth: Debt is STUPID and You Might Be Too!!”

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  1. Dena says:

    Hey Brad,

    You are absolutely right. While the word stupid is a bit harsh — it is the truth. And sometimes the truth hurts! Stupid generally means behaving in an ignorant way when you don’t have to. The fact is, that no one HAS to be in debt. (Except of course for the medical situation that you noted.) But for everyone else, there is no choice. No one holds a gun to your head & forces you to spend outside of your means. And on top of that — if you do end up in debt — there are countless resources to help you get out. Free resources — like books at the library, this blog, and many others.

    At the end of the day, staying in debt is stupid, dangerous, and detrimental to your health? Thanks for this tough push in the right direction. It might be just the motivation that some people are needing!

    Cheers,
    Dena

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Yeah I knew this would be a bit rough but like you said, it is the truth. Sometimes it’s hard to hear the truth, but for me it was vital in our financial transformation. I even remember thinking, at first, when I was listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio that he was a bit harsh, but then I realized the reason why it hurt my feelings so much was because it was absolutely true. I’m glad Dave Ramsey wasn’t worried about hurting my feelings. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for stopping by Dena! I always love hearing your thoughts. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Great post brad.
    Sometimes, being in debt seems to be the ok thing to do and it makes sense that no one wants to get out of it because everyone is in it. So, no one cares that everyone is teetering on the brink of disaster and doing stupid stuff.
    It’s definitely hard to hear “when it comes to money, you’re a moron” but I think it rings true for most people. The ones that take offense to being called names are the ones who dont really see the problem like it is — a threat to their future.
    Dena is right, there are plenty of resources available at the library and other places, but until the majority of people dont have debt, I dont think many will seek them out because it’s “odd” to not want debt because everyone has it.
    Keep up the good work.

  3. Young Mogul says:

    You know I love these kinds of posts! I am stupid to the tune of $949, which is the only remaining balance on my credit card. Outside of the CC, I have a very small mortgage and a very small student loan. I plan to have the student loan paid off by November. However, I think student loans are acceptable debt, if it’s in a reasonable amount.

    If I had known then, what I know now, I would have gone to the cheapest college in the state and not taken out a loan at all. But, when we are that young (17 years old, when I started college) we do the only thing we know and what our families tell us is right or wrong.

    I think some of the reason people get into debt early in life is because they are doing what they saw their parents do and never understand the true price the parents paid by carrying debt. Oftentimes, we are taught debt is normal, is a tool, is one of the only ways to prosper through leveraging. When one is younger and doesn’t know any better, they usually have to spend later years digging themselves out of debt because of what they have been taught and following the example set by parents.

    • Young Mogul,

      Very wise words. If we all teach our kids the “right” way to handle money they will be much better off in the future. My parents were really good at keeping up with the Jones’, so that’s what I learned. Too bad it took me so long to realize it.

  4. JanB says:

    Yeah. I needed to hear this. I have had so many crazy things happening lately, stress out of control, so what is my response? It hurts to even say it because it’s so stupid, but I got puppy fever. Wouldn’t a golden retriever puppy make us all feel better.

    Well NO! Slamming on the brakes. Taking deep breaths….coming back onto earth. I want to be debt free.

    No puppies.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      You’re not alone Jan! Most people need to hear this, and as far as doing stupid with money, even people without debt need to realize that debt isn’t the ONLY thing that is stupid when it comes to money. I, myself need to hold myself accountable when I do something stupid with money, the only difference is that now I’m not paying for it for years in the form of interest and paycheck to paycheck living. I am VERY happy to hear that this post helped you make a better decision. Dogs are great but being debt free is GREATER! When you’re debt free you will have so much more time to play with your retriever because you won’t have to be working two jobs to pay for everything. LOL BTW, I LOVE Golden Retrievers! Probably my all-time favorite dog!

  5. Money Smarts says:

    I have to agree 100% that it is stupid to take on debt, and to keep on making excuses as to why debt is actually needed in your own situation. People in our society love to rationalize away their own irresponsibility and lack of planning, and just portray a victim mentality – in order to show why they NEED to have debt. Debt isn’t necessary, however, and you will have such a sense of freedom and release when it is gone!

  6. Chris@FeFi says:

    Brad,

    While the thought of being called stupid will offend most people, I think you hit the nail on the head with the lazy and spoiled quote.

    Debt is something people need to be beat over the head about. Why? Because it’s easier to just ignore it than to face it. But the implications of that are very serious! So I appreciate the grab-ahold-by-the-shoulders-and-shake-vigorously attitude you’ve got.

    Here’s to being abnormal!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I agree Chris, some feelings probably got hurt a little today. I may have even lost some subscribers due to being viewed as insensitive, but the bottom line is I am here to help people. Stupidity eventually catches up with you so you can only run from it for so long before the truth hits you smack in the face. ๐Ÿ™‚ The people that got offended but understood the point, are the most likely ones to turn things around. Thjose are the people this post was meant for.

      As always thanks for your comment my friend! It’s always great to hear from you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Keoni says:

    Brad,

    I hear you here. Sometimes people need to here it out loud that they are being “stupid” with their money. My financial situation a couple of years ago was living paycheck to paycheck. There was always too much month left after I got paid. Then one day I said enough is enough. I decided to do something about it. I literally stumbled on Dave Ramsey and his book The Total Money Make Over. Since then, I’ve lived on cash and live on a budget. I can not wait until I pay off my last debt and scream I’M DEBT FREEE!!!!! Great blog too, I read it often!

    Cheers,
    Keoni

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Dave Ramsey smacked me in the melon too! When I got it I really got it, and I look back and wonder where I would have been had my feelings not been hurt by that bald-headed stranger named Dave Ramsey? I know one thing, it is highly likely that I would be still broke, and the economy would be kicking my butt. Things might be bad for some but for us, things are only getting better, bad economy or not. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Hello,

    My name is Stupid. I was addicted debt for as long as I can remember. I take no pride in being in debt. I’m here because I want to change. I’m taking the EOD 12-step “Pull your head out of your butt” challenge.

    Thank-you for listening.

    This message has been brought to you by someone who has paid every stupid tax known to man. Brad is right. Don’t just get out of debt, get out of debt to provide a better future for your family. Oh yeah, delivering pizza is a great way to pay that debt back (shameless plug ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  9. I agree with you Brad, but I don’t go so far as to call it stupid. Your paragraph about the government mismanagement of finances hits on something that’s routinely missed in the financial world. When the government prints and borrows money to stimulate the economy, what they’re really doing is supporting and increasing price levels. It’s money created to chase goods and sevices that don’t exist, and that translates into higher prices. It’s why the average house and the average car cost ten times more now than they did 40 years ago.

    It’s a vicious top down game that affects us all and very dramatically at that. Wages aren’t going up in most fields at a level comparable to the real rate of inflation, which is always masked to make things look better than they are.

    So people try to adjust to something they can’t see or feel, but they know they’re falling behind, and they’re largely making it up with debt. That’s why we’re in the collective debt mess we are. No one wants to admit that they can’t afford the classic suburban lifestyle, that we can’t give our kids “the best” college education, nor does the country want to admit that we can’t afford multi-trillion dollar budgets.

    The stupid part here isn’t debt, it’s our pride keeping us from lowering our lifestyles to adjust to the REAL reality, which is a lot less rosey than the media version. We have “help” in this delusion from the government, the media and the financial community.

    I guess what I’m saying is that what looks like stupidity may have more to do with pride and blindness, or with just trying to cope. We can and should do better with this, but there but for the grace of God go I!

  10. NotConvinced says:

    Debt is not always stupid. I took on debt to the tune of $300k to get through college, medical school, my internship/residency, and fellowship. The debt would have been larger had I not been making a meager salary during parts of my education. The payoff for this debt has been huge. I was able to pay if off in 3 years. Was it stupid? Not in my book.

    These types of broad statements, such as ‘debt is stupid’ are rarely correct as they must be put in context.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      You’re certainly entitled to your opinion but I have to disagree with you. Taking on 300K of debt with the hopes that it would all work out was idiotically stupid! It just happened to work out for you at the time, and thankfully you had the sense to get it paid off very quickly. I can tell you after dealing with many cases, your situation doesn’t happen often at all. As a matter of fact students are currently having a hard time finding work and if they went into as much debt as you did, which most people don’t, they’d be screwed right now. Taking on debt and hoping everything works out is a serious gamble.

      How’s this for a broad statement? Debt is ALWAYS STUPID in my book and all you have to do is look around to see that more than 6 out of 10 people have it and are struggling to make it month to month. The one exception I have is house debt but even then, I prefer to not owe anyone any money at all. Not owing someone is ALWAYS better than owing someone when it’s all said and done.

      With that said I am glad that you were one of the tiniest minority of people that it worked for. Still the odds were against you.

      • JanB says:

        I would guess that most people take out debt for school, and without it, a lot of people wouldn’t be able to go to school. But those six months after graduation go by fast and a lot of people end up back in school just to keep the deferment process alive.

        I never got the chance to go to college when I was young and just this past November graduated with my degree in ministry from a college that offers it’s bible ministry for free.

        I have been able to use my bachelors to be able to become certified to sub in the school, so I am making a few bucks with it, but as a full time mom, taking out debt for school just was not in the books for us.

        Congrats on paying off that huge debt. Do you have any debt now?

      • I’d also add that while things may have worked out for NotConvinced, his is not a story that should be held up as a model for others.

        • JanB says:

          For those of us who are mired in debt and just digging out, student loan debt is very insidious. As I mentioned, I don’t have any of my own, but my husband has $33,000. That may only be about a tenth of the other fellow’s tuition, but it’s nearly our entire annual income, he’s a teacher.

          When it comes down to it, what other loan do you have that if you can’t pay it, all you have to do is incur more of it to stop the payments?

          Chuck is taking another masters this year, he is required to get for work, but this debt will be 100% paid by work. We will not take out a PENNY for books or “expenses”. Still, there is relief that while he is deferred, we can continue to work on the other debt. He will continue to work while getting this degree.

          We still have over $14,000 in credit debt, a $11,000 car loan, a home mortgage ($53,000) and a HEL ($25,000) PLUS the $33,000 in student loans.

          If I could go back and wipe any of those out, I would, but all I can do is keep snowballing on the credit debt and keep working toward not digging any further.

          I know at least three other couples where one of them are currently in school (in one case, both of them are) ONLY to defer these loans.

          Yes, student loans are stupid, but more than that – they’re dangerous.

  11. Steve says:

    Debt isn’t always stupid. It’s how the debt is used and if you can pay it off. Do you think getting a new car over a used car that might have unforeseen problems in the near future is stupid? Even though you have to take out a loan to get the new car.

    But it is a great catchy title that has produced a very good discussion.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Hi Steve, Obviously I think debt is stupid and I must say, you would have been better off using a mortgage as your example instead of a car. Going into debt to purchase a new car—a depreciating asset—are you serious? Buying a new car with cash is even stupid, unless of course you’re a millionaire. It loses value as soon as you drive it off the lot, so doing it with debt is an extremely stupid financial move.

      If you can’t afford it without going into debt, you shouldn’t be buying it period.

  12. Another example of doing something STUPID is borrowing money just so that you can raise your credit score.

    Someone recently asked me what my credit score was and I told them “I don’t care…because I’m consumer debt free and all I have left is my house to pay off.. why on earth would I WANT credit anymore??”

    So it really bugs me when someone borrows money because their only focus is keeping their credit score high.

    David (once stupid… not anymore..)

  13. David – Hope you aren’t upset with that person who asked about your credit score; in the minds of millions of people, you’re ***supposed*** to be ***deeply*** concerned about that number–in the same way you’d be concerned about your blood pressure readings. It’s a conditioned question, that would be expected to produce a conditioned answer (you know your score AND you’re deeply concerned about it).

    But your answer was perfect–you don’t know, you have no debt, and you don’t care–and probably has the person thinking. In fact he/she was probably stunned by both your candor and your lack of concern, enought that it’s still being turned in the questioners mind.

    What you said was a powerful “witness” of a different way to live. Your answer makes you come accross as unconventional, and that challenges people where they live. Well done!

  14. Andrea M says:

    I love the title of this blog! I couldn’t agree more! I am new to this site and I wanted to post a comment about my experience with a debt settlement company. I just completed a program with Elite Financial and they saved me over 70% of my debts. Although I have seen my credit score suffer because of the program but that is nothing compared to the amount of stress that has been eased. I saved almost $37,000 over the last 2 years. I’d definitely recommend them to anyone that needs help. here is their website – http://www.efs-debtfree.com

  15. Alana Chaffee says:

    Great article! It is unfortunate that so often our desire to have certain material things takes over our common sense. People often find crazy ways to justify those purchases and I find those conversations quite frustrating. There is so much less stress when there is no debt to worry about!! PS Love you!!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Wow, I feel quite honored my dear! It was so nice to see you brave the intimidation of leaving your first comment.

      If anyone knows what I am saying is true, it is us. We have been through a lot and we can honestly say that the place we have ended up, is truly great. Here’s to many more years of financial improvement and blissful marriage. It can only keep getting better and better! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I love you babe!

  16. bankruptcy ben says:

    ARGH! I see this stuff everyday but it hasn’t stopped me from getting the biggest house I could service and an expensive I know it’s a problem now I’ve just got to solve it.

  17. Slackerjo says:

    Don’t worry Brad, I don’t hate you!

  18. I prefer to call it ‘ignorance’ (the LACK of knowledge) over ‘stupid’ but either way I am glad I am no longer either one of them. I had my share though, I was there. Now I am smart (well, that is a relative statement), anyway I have wised up, paid off everything and have no intention of going back into debt, EVER!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Yeah I know, but I had to get heads to turn. LOL And when you really dig deep enough most of the things we have ALL done with money have been really STUPID, so either apply. Like you, I am GLAD to not be a slave to debt anymore. Like I said in the post, I am likely to still do something stupid with money in the future but at least it won’t be something I pay for for years in the form of high interest. LOL

  19. Maya says:

    Yes, I’m stupid, but want to become smart. Where do I start? We’ve got a budget and are building up our $1000 emergency fund to start. How can I get my husband on board? We pay $105/mos. for cable and almost $300/mos for combined landline/internet/cell phones. I’ve shaved as much as I know how and cable and phone are his holdouts.

    • Jan says:

      I would seriously consider getting the Dave Ramsey DVD Dumping Debt. I bought it and watched it while he was nearby. He kept circling around, finally we watched it together. Then I got the Relating with Money DVD. Now he is on board, but I am still driving the boat.

      By the way, TV and phones are our battle here, too. I wanted to go VOIP, but he wouldn’t do it. You pick your battles.

      Congrats on the budget and the start of the baby emergency fund!

      Sorry for hijacking the comments, Dude!!

      Jan

      • Brad Chaffee says:

        Jan, with real life experiences to add to the conversation you can hijack my comments anytime. Great reply and your advice was so true, especially picking the battles part!!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      How to get your spouse on board: patience and example. The best thing to do is avoid getting in his face about this. This will push him away. Instead have talks, communicate about your goals, explain to him why getting your finances in order is important to you. The best advice would be to do what Jan said: pick your battles. Sometimes it is worth losing a battle in order to win the war on debt, it just takes time. If it is the difference between your husband partially being on board, or not on board at all, give in on some issues. Your husband will come around as he starts to see your situation improving.

      His holdouts will be tough to cut more unless he truly understands that the sacrifice will help you win faster. Good luck Maya! We’ve all done some stupid stuff with money, but the fact that you are taking action is going to make all the difference in the world. Keep up the great work and good luck on that budget!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  20. rk says:

    thank you for this hard truth…it is a shame that so many people do not realize this simplicity..they would rather remain enslaved to their debts, in order to impress their friends, instead of paying off everything, and saving for their futures. Debt is the thing that keeps people working at jobs they cannot stand..

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      A shame indeed rk! I feel like that has changed a bit since starting this site in 2008 but what I am afraid of is that when the economy recovers, how easily people tend to forget and return to their old ways. I guess we\’ll see huh? And yes, being enslaved to a master makes life miserable!! Living debt free is the only way to experience true financial freedom! ๐Ÿ˜€

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