Overheard This Week

140474989 “I feel so grown up. I have so much debt.”

I was buying a bottle of grapefruit seed extract at the health food store this week when I overheard this comment behind me. I knew the speaker was a woman. That much was clear.  But I was fuzzy on her age.  Youngish for sure.  Twenty or so, I guessed.

I was off by five or six years. The woman was very, very young.  Probably just into her teens.

Her friend laughed.  The two of them then proceeded to talk about how much money they owed parents, siblings, and several well-known retail clothing stores. About how much they’d need to borrow to buy their first car. To go to university.

It was a great reminder of how character can be shown through one’s relationship to money: how we value it, save it, spend it. But the relationship to money is also generational.  I paid cash for my first car ($500 and, yes, it was a beater).  I didn’t have a credit card until I was well into my twenties. My mother-in-law is 89 and doesn’t have a credit card, period. She pays cash for everything. She doesn’t believe in debt.

It may be easy for her, but it’s not easy to navigate life without some debt or a credit card anymore.  Most homeowners start out with a mortgage. Many teens take out student loans to attend post-secondary institutions. If you get on a plane, in-flight services are often credit only these days. And booking that flight or ordering on line is usually impossible without a credit card or PayPal account.

I feel so grown up. I have so much debt. That comment really made me stop and think.

It’s unlikely credit cards will ever completely disappear. And no doubt debt, in one form or another, will exist until this rock we live on turns to dust.  But I can’t help wondering if I’ll ever overhear someone say, I feel so young. I have absolutely no debt.

Wouldn’t that be a novel concept?



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