The headline was, Millennials: Go ahead and take that vacation instead of paying off your student debt. And the opening line of the USA TODAY article was even more shocking. Here’s what it said: “After saving up for her honeymoon, financial author Erin Lowry chose to use it for her honeymoon, rather than pay off her husband’s student debt.” 1
Proverbs 24:27 says, “Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.” In other words, do what you have to do first, then you can do whatever you want to do.
But that goes against the failed philosophy of “if it feels good do it. Who cares what it costs?" We all should. Truth is debt delays our dreams instead of delivering them and in some cases destroys them. Why? Again, Proverbs 22:7 warns, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.”
She went on to say, “To some people, our choice might seem extravagant.” 3
Count me among that group.
“We’re a millennial couple and like many in our cohort, student loans are a scary line item on our marital budget.”2 Erin is an author and personal finance blogger who has written “Broke Millennial: Takes On Investing” and “Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together.” She even asked the question in her article, “What kind of a personal finance author would I be if we went on a fancy honeymoon instead of paying off the remainder of my husband’s student debt?” 4
She continued, “So much of prevailing rhetoric in the personal finance industry demonizes all forms of debt and has turned it into a morality issue. But there’s a fundamental problem with telling people to eschew all of life’s luxuries (big or small) in the quest to be debt-free. ‘Because crash diets end at the buffet line,’ says H. Jude Boudreaux, CFP, partner and senior financial planner at The Planning Center. He thinks the black-and-white argument of denying yourself breaks while paying off debt is a false choice.” 5
Let me get this straight: Diets don’t work, so why even try? You’re gonna’ end up at the buffet line. Self-denial is a bad thing and paying off debt is a “false choice”?
No wonder our world is in the mess we’re in.
Ms. Lowry said, “When I looked at our savings and goals, the numbers told me to ditch the honeymoon and become debt-free. My emotions said otherwise.” 5
Of course they did. The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). She ended the article by saying she could sleep well at night knowing the extra eight months’ interest that would accrue because they went on the honeymoon instead of paying off their debt was “money well spent: It’s a down payment on a strong foundation for our marriage.” 6
This is personal to me. For too many years I followed the advice of the wrong people. So many who echoed the same philosophy as the article above. We went on vacations we couldn’t afford, charged them to our credit card and spent the next 10 months to a year – every year – paying them off so we could do it all over again. Went out to eat when we couldn’t really afford it. Spent money buying things we really didn’t need, so we could fit in with our friends. The sad reality was they were in the same debt pit we were in, but no one admitted it.
When we first got married, I was buying a new car almost every six months until I couldn’t do it anymore because we couldn’t afford it. We lived miserly and miserably for years until I decided to change and thankfully, my family went along with me.
For too many years I followed the advice of the wrong people.
Overnight we went from self-indulgence to self-denial; from a debt-based life to a cash-based life. If we didn’t have the money for something, anything, we didn’t need it and we weren’t getting it. Yes, it was horrible not doing whatever we wanted to do while everyone else was. But we had a plan and we’d established priorities we weren’t going to bend on. Like putting God first, denying every urge to splurge, disciplining ourselves to live frugally and sensibly. Which meant paying off all our debts and changing the way we’d managed whatever God gave us.
Today we can do whatever we want, whenever we want; go wherever we want, help whoever we want, and get whatever we need. We pay cash for everything and have committed ourselves to helping as many people as we can to enjoy the same kind of life we’ve been enjoying for almost 20 years.
So, what is the plan we follow? It’s pretty simple. You can sum it up in four words: Pay now, play later. It’s not as much fun at first, but the benefits will last until the day you die.
What are you waiting on?
© 2019. Barry L. Cameron
1 Lowry, Erin. “Millennials: Go Ahead and Take That Vacation Instead of Paying off Your Student Debt.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, www.usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/2019/09/26/millennials-need-take-honeymoon-then-finish-paying-off-debt/2421112001/.
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.