Obsessive Personalities: Building Debt & Debt Repayment

Obsession can really take a hold of your life in terrible ways — you could worry whether the stove is turned off every time you leave the house and be diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, be afraid of germs and wash your hands 100s of times a day, fear that your spouse is cheating on you, or spend all your hard-earned money on strippers, fancy cars and a dozen houses.

When it comes to spending more than you earn, your obsession with shopping can lead to excessive debt. Some men have to have all of the latest gadgets and electronics. Women might need a new $700 Louis Vuitton bag every season to go with her $1,000 Manolo Blahniks.

My point is this: An obsessive personality can lead to big financial problems. Recognizing the problem is the first step to recovery.

The Flip Side

On the other hand, some folks become obsessive in their debt repayment. They will cut every extra expense in order to free up more money to put toward their credit card debt, student loans or mortgage, sometimes at the expense of quality of life.

Don’t get me wrong — of course, paying down your debt is an excellent goal. But I believe in “everything in moderation.” Don’t pay down your debt at the expense of building up some sort of emergency or savings fund, at the expense of doing something for yourself every once in a while, be it catching a movie, getting a pedicure or enjoying a nice meal out.

Lakita of PF Journey mentioned in a guest post at One Money Design that she cut cable TV so she could pay off debt with “gazelle-like intensity.” I find this very commendable, but everyone’s situation is different. My husband would be lost and unhappy without his cable TV. We would rather save money in other ways, but that’s our prerogative. If Lakita is happy with her quality of life after eliminating cable TV, more power to her!

My Take

I’m not immune to obsessing over money. We finally have a nice chunk of cash in our savings account, and I’m sitting on my hands when it comes to putting some of it toward home improvements. We desperately need new living room furniture (the coffee table is still being held together with silver duct tape) and our kitchen has been a work in progress for 9 months –the white primer paint on the walls and the icky countertop really need to go. But I can’t seem to bring myself to actually spend the money to fix things up.

And I’ll readily admit that I’m not gung-ho on getting rid of our debt ASAP, other than our credit card debt (which is going to be wiped out this month; at least until we buy new living room furniture in a few weeks). Our car loan is at 0% interest for four more years; our 30-year mortgage is at 5% interest. Particularly with the mortgage, I know there’s no way Mr. Saver and I will be debt-free in the near future.

So while I obsess over SAVING money, I don’t obsess over PAYING OFF DEBT.

Everyone’s situation is different — what aspects of spending and saving do you obsess over?

10 comments to Obsessive Personalities: Building Debt & Debt Repayment

  • Rob

    My girlfriend and I are obsessive about paying off debt and saving up as much money as we can. So far, we’ve managed to pay off a little more than $10k in three months…we’re averaging about $3,300 a month toward debt, plus another $1,500 toward savings. Once the debt is gone, we’ll be able to put everything into our savings accounts.

    In order to make this much progress and reach our goals as quickly as possible, we’ve stopped going out for lunch during work and drastically reduced the amount of times we go out for dinner or order in. I’ve also reduced my mobile phone bill, my cable and internet bill, and have canceled other services that weren’t being using enough, like GameFly and my gym membership. Overall, I’ve reduced my monthly expenses by almost $400 just by making a few simple tweaks.

  • Sounds like you’ve got everything under control. Would you consider second-hand furnishings or is that tacky for a new house? Just a thought.


    • Nicole

      Definitely not tacky — we have a bunch of hand-me-down furniture in the other rooms:
      — Bedroom set was my grandmothers
      — Loveseat from my aunt
      — Glider rocker from a neighbor
      — Two coffee tables from garage sale/co-worker
      — TV stand from in-laws

      So we’re more than happy to use secondhand stuff, but I’d like the living room to fully be our own. I plan to buy furniture that will transition well in the coming years so it won’t look too out-of-date.

  • I could never go without cable either.

    Interesting post about schools in NJ too. I teach first grade and we are having the exact same issues here in Utah. Fortunately, my pathetic salary is safe for another year.

  • You make a good point. In my case, I’m on a mission to pay off my line of credit. I can wait on the car loan and student loans,they are both at lower APR’s so I can deal with them in due time. I’m not much into buying myself stuff, so I don’t feel deprived in anyway, as long as I can still afford my daily Starbucks visit, I’m happy! (I’m so easy 🙂 )

  • Maybe you should let the hubby obsess over paying off debt, so you guys have a one too punch?

    • Nicole

      Hubby doesn’t know how to obsess over anything — he just lets me guide the finances! I’ll be putting more toward the mortgage, since that is a large interest-accruing balance.

  • I’ll admit it, I’m an obsessive debt payer.

    We also save – we have a pension, 401k, Roth IRA, an emergency fund, a home and auto expense account, a Scottrade account, a tax account since we don’t escrow, a vacation account, and indivdual fun money accounts.

    BUT, we have a $10k car loan from 2008 at 4.6% that I’m hitting HARD and a $70k mortgage from 2007 that will be gone no later than 2017.

    The key for me is to prioritize and listen to my husband’s priorities too. We make about $80k a year before taxes, and want to live well now and retire early by age 52. That requires prioritization so we can save a ton, pay off debts, and still be happy right now.

    We have cable, internet, cell phones, a biweekly housekeeper, and a biweekly lawn service, BUT we skip on tons of other stuff that just isn’t as important to us.

    You can see our actual budget on my site, but the point is, prioritization lets the savers (my hubby) and debt payers (me) live harmoniously. 🙂

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