When I was a teenager on a swim team, our coach brought in a sports psychologist to help us with issues like pre-race jitters. One of the things this psychologist said was that if we felt burdened we were more likely to get shoulder and neck injuries from the “weight” of those burdens. I don’t know if that specific claim is true or not, but the idea that emotional factors can affect our bodies has stuck with me.
Dear Husband and I recently paid off our car loan, ahead of time. It was a big deal for us for two reasons. First, getting rid of that debt felt like we fixed a not-so-wise decision because we had been kicking ourselves for financing a car when we should have saved up for it. Second, getting out of any kind of debt, be it car, medical, department store credit cards, mortgage, or whatever, frees the debtor.
Imagine being free to travel, free to retire, or even free to change careers. A new UC Berkley survey of over 53,000 workers reported that a little more than half of us are dissatisfied with our careers, and we would like to make a change. Half of us! But if we’re stuck in a repayment rut, we’ve got to stick with our unsatisfying jobs and take care of those loans before we . . . work some more.
Yep, that same survey said 70 percent of us would keep on working if we became independently wealthy, most likely at a different job, one that gave us a sense of it being “important” (as survey responders put it) or made us feel like we are accomplishing something, regardless of the pay. Because it’s not the money we’re after. In fact, only 21 percent of us care about bringing home a good salary. But to get to that career where we do something important and make a difference, we’ve got to get out from underneath those weighty loans.
I work part time in youth sports, and DH is still working full time in a hands-on type of engineering job. Fortunately, we are part of the 50 percent that like our jobs. So if neither of us is looking for a career change or even time off, what’s the big deal about paying off our loans early?
There are other ways of being imprisoned by debt. From an article in The Economic Journal on mental health and debt, I learned that when we owe money, we are more likely to be depressed, stressed, and irritable, and less likely to take good care of ourselves; the latter leading to higher smoking and obesity rates. I believe this, that there is a connection between debt and our emotional well-being. On the day we paid off the car loan, DH and I met in the driveway after work and greeted each other with high fives and a couple of loud whoopee’s. (Oh goodness, what must the neighbors think?!). I swear if someone had taken a before and after picture of me, they would have seen a suddenly taller woman with better posture because, like I learned when I was a teen, my body had responded to the emotional burden being lifted.
If you’d like to read more in depth, here is the UC Berkley survey I cited: http://www.statisticbrain.com/u-s-job-satisfaction-statistics/, and here is The Economic Journal article: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-0297.2012.02519.x/full.
Make this day even better. Consider:
• The oft given advice to treat yourself when you’ve paid off a debt may seem trite, but a small celebration does spur you on to the next financial goal. It’s strawberry festival time in our Virginia county, and we treated ourselves to some locally grown, organic strawberries. OMGosh, delicious!