Not you, dear reader, unless you have the same attitude toward debt that today’s protagonist does. A little backstory:
Almost 3 years ago, we ran a post on the anonymous woman who runs a blog called Digging Out From Our Mess. You might want to read that first. If not, no big deal.
At the time, she was $71,930.29 in debt. But on the other hand, she
- had gone to the trouble of creating a blog on which to display her debt load, presumably to publicly shame herself into taking lasting action;
- saved a few bucks by going with the free Blogspot address instead of buying her own URL;
- wanted, really really wanted, to get out of debt. And shouldn’t intentions be enough?
We’re not sure, but she might have been our first exposure to this crawling subspecies known as debt bloggers. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all, and if you haven’t seen one, click our archives for any “Financial Retard of the Month” who isn’t Trent Hamm. The template never changes, only the tiniest details do. Typically female. Had or is planning an ostentatious wedding. Student loans, usually multiple ones. And they were all taken out to finance a degree with no earning potential, hence the debt. There are often lots of toys, too. If not multiple cars, then consumer electronics and/or exotic vacations. (If you’re in debt, visiting the neighboring town ought to count as an exotic vacation.) She’d also taken out something called a “retirement loan,” a term then unfamiliar to us, and hopefully to you. It’s an advance on a 401(k), withdrawn with a staggering 10% penalty.
So let’s catch up, see what progress the Digging Out From Our Mess woman has made in the ensuing 34 months.
For one thing, she now has a name: “Mysti”, a pseudonym presumably created to imply that her identity will remain under wraps. She’s married to G-Man, and isn’t that precious? Together they live with Bossy Boy and Sassy Girl, and in 2013 America, with its Calebs and its Nevaehs, we can only hope that “Mysti”‘s kids’ names are pseudonyms too.
Okay, what about her debt load? Someone who goes to this much trouble to share details must be disciplined enough to have paid a huge chunk of her debt down, right?
There it is in bright red font on her main page. She’s lowered her $71,930.29 deficiency all the way to $73,445.13. Or as any of her commenters would say,
Awesome job, Mysti! I KNEW you could do it!!!!
Her debt is now only 102% of what it used to be. By our calculations, assuming that her debt moves linearly (it doesn’t, but it’s not as if that’s going to matter to her), it’s going to take her… -135 years to pay off that debt. That’s a minus sign, not an em dash.
Since her debt reached that local nadir of $71,930.29 so many moons ago, “Mysti” has managed to
- Install new carpet on her stairs and bedrooms
- Makeover the paint, floor and fixtures in her main bathroom
- Buy a new Jeep.
You think we’re joking, but click this link if you don’t believe us. It’s “Mysti”’s “wish list”, and…what the hell, we’ll just reprint it:
Here are things we would like to do in the future, assuming that Retirement loans are being funded appropriately, and debt is gone!!!
Carpet the stairs and bedrooms(Bossy’s room completed June 2012) Makeover main bathroom (paint, floor, fixtures)Completed 2011
Refinish hardwood floors
Makeover of the main bathroom (new shower with glass tile, upgraded fixtures)
Kitchen (gut the whole thing and start over!)
Regrade yard and sod
New living room furniture
New kitchen set
New dining room set and matching hutch
Upgrade living room TV
New Car for Mysti“New to Us” Jeep Liberty purchased November 2011
New Car for G-man
New Boat for G-man
Take the kids to Disneyworld
Take the honeymoon we never had and renew our wedding vows
Reset engagement ring
New wedding band for G-man
Wait, we forgot the paragraph that begins that page, which really belongs at the end like some deft plot twist that’s way too strange for fiction:
Call it materialistic. Call it selfish. Call it whatever you like, but we all have things in life we would like to have or would like to do. We all know that being debt free will afford us the opportunity to do amazing things. And saving up for items will be a cinch.
“Do amazing things” should refer to something like swimming the English Channel, or even just creating a profitable business while paying employees. For “Mysti”, it means being an even bigger and more gluttonous consumer than before. In case you’re feeling stupidly generous, she even provided links to the engagement ring and dining room set that she has her eyes on, links which we mercifully deleted.
It’s not often that you come across a document whose every single word is a lie, but Digging Out From Our Mess is special in several ways. “[S]aving up for items will be a cinch”? Not for you it won’t, Toots. You will be poor until you die. Not because the cosmos is working against you, but because you (and the G-Man) are working against yourself. “New boat”? Why not go all the way and ask for a new tennis estate at Isleworth while you’re at it? It doesn’t hurt to dream, right?
Is this a modern phenomenon, these adults who fantasize like impatient children and have zero feet planted in reality? We swear that people in their late 30s and early 40s weren’t this immature when we were kids.
Call it materialistic. Call it selfish.
She did get that part right.
Do we even need to mention that she has that panacea of all poor and indebted people, an “emergency fund”? With $1000 or so in it. It never occured to “Mysti” that being 72 grand in debt, let alone having that debt grow to over 73 grand, might constitute an emergency. She also has, or had, a car repair fund. You’re not going to believe this, but “Mysti” now has a $1091 repair bill that she never anticipated.
Instead of getting excited about placing your meager savings into various funds and giving them descriptive names, thus enabling you to add more columns to the Excel spreadsheets that you share with your idiot readers, how about not buying flotsam? Yes, carpeting and new bathroom fixtures absolutely count as such if you’re tens of thousands of dollars in debt and can’t afford them. And jewelry is always pretty stupid.
But who cares? Delayed gratification is for suckers! YOLO!
We’re not writing this post to shame some (literally) poor woman who’s been beaten down by life. We’re writing it to show you that for most people, inertia is the most powerful force in the world. Please don’t think of “Mysti” as an exemplar of everyday modern society, average woman just trying to get by. She isn’t. She’s a willful stooge in a game of I’m-Going-To-Stick-My-Head-In-The-Sand-Until-I’m-Dead. Her intentions are every bit as perverted as her blog’s laughable title. White is black. Up is down. Left is right. And Exacerbating Our Mess is now Digging Out From Our Mess.
Just…just stop. If you’re reading this and you happen to be in (consumer) debt, the worst thing you can do is give yourself a long window to get out of debt while buying cars and home furnishings. It pains us to admit this, but this is where Trent Hamm makes a modicum of sense. Be as miserly as Iowa’s #1 frugality potentate until you get out of debt. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but the good news is it won’t last long if you have anything approaching discipline. Then you can start building wealth. Or you can be like “Mysti”, and see how far she’s
gotten fallen behind in the last 3 years. You might not want to wait until you’ve eaten your vegetables before you get dessert, but that’s how money works. All the exclamation points and good intentions in the world won’t change that. Buy our book and join us on the positive side of the ledger. It’s less crowded here.
(Apologies to the now-forgotten reader who brought this to our attention.)