The Burden of Debt

The other day I was continuing with the KonMari process, tackling more of the "paper" category. Our file cabinet has been unreasonably full for quite a while, so I was working through some old documents and shredding or recycling quite a few of them.

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I was surprised by some of the papers I held on to earlier in adulthood. I don't think I had any idea what I really needed to keep, so I just kept everything, and my file cabinet showed it.

There were receipts for insignificant Target purchases and regular grocery store trips. I found packing slips for items that were shipped and received ages ago. I even found old concert and convention ticket receipts for events attended long before our kids were born.

The most noteworthy stack of papers that I shredded or recycled, though, came from the folder containing the documents relating to the purchase of our house, including loan statements from nearly ten years ago. I kept all of the loan origination documents, but that pile of outdated loan statements went straight to the shredder.

I only periodically check our remaining principle balance since we no longer receive paper statements, and we signed up for automatic withdrawal ages ago, but I know that we are hovering right around $13,000 left on our loan. It's a lot of money, but it doesn't feel nearly as stifling as the amount we started with almost ten years ago. As I shredded those old statements, I felt relief--relief that we no longer owe $30,000 for anything.

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We are close to paying off our house as long as we stick with our current plan to pay it off early. Otherwise we have about four years left on our loan. We have talked some about what we want to do with that extra $343 once we no longer have a house payment every month. We've even discussed crazy options like replacing our house all together with something small but a little more family friendly.

Yet as I watched that loan balance slowly go down with each paper I put through the shredder, I realized something.

I don't ever want to owe $30,000 again if I can help it.

Comparatively speaking, I know $30,000 isn't much, but the weight of any kind of debt that you can't quickly pay off is burdensome. It limits you in ways you don't always realize from your employment options to your ability to survive if the unthinkable happens and you become disabled or lose your job. It's a burden that you risk passing along to your surviving family should something happen to you.

I am so grateful for the loan that enabled us to buy our own house. But it's a heavy weight to carry and one that I look forward to leaving far behind.

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