I’m not the ethical ruler of this planet, but for that matter, I’m not Maya Angelou either (this really makes no sense, but it provided me a brief chuckle that helps me to continue to write this post). The following words of this post are not the ethical end. However, it is the financial ethical gospel according to Peter chapter 1.
1 I get it. You bought something on a whim, in a pinch, or as a means for survival, and you never intended to not pay for it. 2 But WHY you bought something is often substituted for the mere fact that you DID buy something.
3 I think we have to begin with a very simple philosophical question. Do you think the world owes you something? 4 It’s in the answer to this question that we can begin to understand why we put our own perceived financial needs above the those needs, rights, and goals of our fellow man. 5 But it’s our willful misunderstanding of who our fellow man is, that really leads us down the path of unethical debt management.
Okay, okay, okay, I’ll stop with the that style of writing. Although, it was a cute effect. Here’s the deal: people bail on their debts because they can’t or won’t put a face to their creditors. People that file bankruptcy, participate in debt settlement, or simply refuse to pay a debt they incur, often times view their debtors as evil overlord monoliths that are oppressing their ability to maintain an unreasonable lifestyle.
And before we go much further, it’s important that you know that: I speed, I withhold the truth sometimes to protect those that I love, I don’t return some emails when I should, and all sorts of relatively unsavory things. But I will not and cannot make my financial problems someone else’s financial problem. I’m simply asking you to do the same.
Let’s say that you owe a major credit card company $16,000. And let’s assume that this debt, and more importantly the monthly payment to help you payoff this debt, is quite substantial in relation to your monthly household income. Obviously your life would get easier if your payment was reduced or just simply went away. But it’s also easier to not buy your wife an anniversary gift, call your dad on Father’s Day, or step up as a witness of a crime on the street. But it’s your willingness to do the right thing, not the easy thing, that defines your character.
If character building isn’t enough, then imagine if all your debt was owned by a mom and pop shop in your neighborhood. Your unwillingness to keep your money problems to yourself would devastate both mom and pop. Not only that, but you would be forced to visit their store everyday and look them in their (now) financially struggling eyes. Putting a face to your creditors changes everything.
Commit to keeping your financial problems your own. If you do then you too can freely use this Maya Angelou pic to make you chuckle whenever you’d like.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.