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I live in a small town. Colona, IL has a population of just over 5,000. As a jogger, this means I am usually only assaulted with exhaust fumes a few times whenever I decide to go outside to burn some calories. But as far as the type of people passing me on the roadside? Over this, I have no control....

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Filed Under on December 18th, 2010

Deadly Debt

By Seth Kabala

Man driving suv claims brake failure in three-car accident that claims lives of mother and two children.

That could easily have been the headline in the paper the next day had any one of the millions of factors been different in the accident where a guy rear-ended my wife and kids. But they weren’t, my family is alive, and I thank God for a stiff bumper and guardian angels, and Chevy for doing its job for once.

Epic poem reduced to news blurb, we had the opportunity to either purchase the best car we could get with the money insurance gave (I now have something in common with the widow and her mite) or to get a loan.

I really liked the idea of getting a new … er car, so I researched the loan possibilities:

1. Get car loan from bank. Would require postponing student loan payments. Lower grocery bill (more boxes, less fresh ingredients), adjustment of cell phone package options (never!), etc.

2. Get home equity loan. Would require oodles of paper sent to bank. Appraisal. Possible home improvements to increase value (for which $ coming from where???). Add to mortgage payment.

3. Beg family. Would require fashioning of hangman’s noose from available supplies, because would hang self before asking family for money. Probably poor option. On both counts.

As my list grew for debt options, I grew depressed, that feeling of cold washing over my body, along with the weight of a sumo wrestler balanced on my back. Still, despite being car-payment-free for three years prior to the accident, I thought a loan was the best option, so I reported my findings to my wife, who, absent sumo buddy, said, “Now that we’ve made a decent dent in the debt, we don’t want to smooth it out.”

After praising her metaphor-forming abilities, I was reminded of a Bible verse I have on my cubicle wall, one that reminds me every day of why I want to say “Fuck you” to debt at every possible turn.

“The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” –Proverbs 22:7, KJV. Simple and powerful. But oh-so-easy to forget.

The options are easy when you pay with cash–write check, get keys.

But when deadly debt enters the fray, everything turns into a clusterfuck of paperwork, predatory interest, and the debt-free light at the end of the tunnel growing fainter all the time.

So we paid cash, continued our Total Money Makeover quest to be, aside from the Creator, no one’s earthy monetary servants, and I can still park in the thick of it at Walmart and say “Meh” to anybody dinging my doors.

Old car ownership is foreign and socially ostracizing.

But it’s also freedom.

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Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, and musician. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

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