Credit is a disease you won't catch here
One evening a few weeks ago, we stopped at our local convenience store to get some gas. I walked inside to grab a drink. I don’t recall the details of the conversation, but at some point the clerk working the counter said:
Credit is a disease that you won’t catch here!
He was referring to not liking credit cards and debt in general. I still liked the quote and found it a very profound statement. For the sake of this article, I’m going to change it to make it say what he really met : Debt is a disease you won’t catch here
I’ve thought about what he said a great deal since then. Is credit really a disease? Can you really catch it?
Wikipedia defines a disease as:
A disease is an abnormal condition of an organism that impairs body functions. In human beings, “disease” is often used more broadly to refer to any condition that causes discomfort, dysfunction, distress, social problems, and/or death to the person afflicted, or similar problems for those in contact with the person.
A disease is an abnormal condition of an organism that impairs body functions. – This part of the definition definitely doesn’t apply as I am not aware of credit impairing body function. I did hear of a story once where a main was having chronic pain in his leg. For some reason he decided to stop carrying his wallet in his rear pocked and within 2 days the pain went away…but I digress…
The second part of the definition is a little more intriguing…any condition that causes discomfort, dysfunction, distress, social problems, and/or death to the person afflicted, or similar problems for those in contact with the person.
Let’s look at this analyze this part of the definition in a little more detail…
Not sure about you, but being in debt and using credit certainly causes me discomfort. Mainly it causes me to worry, stress and sleep loss. Again, this is less due to the credit than the debt I have that’s associated but the two are tightly coupled.
Personally, I feel discomfort when I use a credit card as I am not a fan of using other people’s money, even when I pay it back on time and pay them interest as a fee for using their money. I prefer to use the money I own and the money I’ve earned. I have enough stress and discomfort in my life without the added strain of owing others money. Am I there yet? No, I still owe quite a few companies money, but someday soon.
Medical studies also show that stress is a significant cause health problems. One of the primary causes of stress? Debt and financial problems.
Dysfunction is basically the impairing of normal function or behavioral patterns. Does debt cause dysfunction? Sure does. At first I didn’t think so, but then I realized that my current behavioral patterns around money, spending, etc. are the way they are due to debt. As a result, I asked myself a different question, how would your behavior change if you were debt free? Discussing that in detail would be a completely different article, but suffice it to say I would be a lot less stressed and feel much more free than I do.
Distress can be described as pain, anxiety, sorrow, despair, or being a state of extreme necessity. I’d saying debt can cause everyone of these. I have anxiety over by debt and often feel like it’s a dark cloud constantly over my head. I’ve read numerous blog articles about people in debt feeling hopelessness and despair over their debt thinking they are never going to get out. This often leads to situations of extreme necessity.
So yes, debt causes distress. The more you have, the more distress.
This is an interesting one and there are basically two sides to this coin. On one side, debt doesn’t cause social problems as people don’t really talk about it openly. I mean, how much debt are your friends, co-workers, or neighbors in? Chances are, you don’t know, nor would they want you to.
On the other side, debt has significant influence on your social situation. How often have you declined a group event or not gone out with friends or family due to not being able to afford it as a result of your debt? This has happened to us many times in the past? Did it impact us socially? Absolutely.
While researching this article, I found that Financial problems and debt are generally one of the top 5 reasons that adults commit suicide. The number one cause is depression and one of the main contributing causes of depression is debt.
In most cases, debt won’t cause death but don’t overlook the fact that it does. People commit suicide daily as a result of the overwhelming and helpless feelings associated with their debt.
Is credit a disease? Not, but it does meet many of the criteria. I would even argue that credit is contagious. I’ve seen people with absolutely no debt start to hang around with people that are in debt and within a short period of time that are no longer debt free. Just look at the amount of people in the world that think being in debt and making large payments each month is normal. A fairly recent USAToday article showed that 78 %of baby boomers have mortgage debt, 59% have credit card debt, 56% have car payments.
What do you think? Is credit/debt a disease? Share your thoughts in the comments below.