I remember growing up and having my parents tell me that they couldn’t afford this or that. You can imagine the trauma that this caused to a child, as I worried about whether my parents would have enough money to put food on the table. In reality, our family was doing just fine financially. It was a poor way of communicating to their child that they didn’t feel like buying me everything that I wanted.
We use this phrase, “I can’t afford it,” to describe what we are willing to pay for and what we are not. In reality, most of us can afford many things that we use this term for. You may say that you can’t afford something, but what you really mean is that you don’t care enough to prioritize that. Proper debt management is about prioritizing your expenses. It means avoiding unnecessary spending and using whatever excuse necessary to avoid going into debt.
Why Prioritizing Expenses Matters
While the phrase, “I can’t afford this,” may not be entirely accurate, it does represent an effort to prioritize your expenses. The fact that you are considering what you should and should not buy, shows that you are trying to resist going into debt. Surprisingly, this happens less than you would think.
Many people these days are going into debt without considering the consequences. They become attached to material possessions and lose track of everything else. They become convinced that this will buy their happiness. But, in reality, its putting them further away from it.
When you make your next big purchase, it is important to consider whether it is that important to you. While many people would ask, “Can I afford this?” the question is really “Is this important to me?” This is a better question because after the basic expenses like rent, we can afford to do a lot of things. It just means that we have to give up other things. When I am considering going on a vacation, I make sure that I can still afford to do other things that are important like saving for retirement, giving to charity, paying my bills, etc. Taking time to ask yourself these questions can go a long ways to help you stay out of debt and responsible with your finances.