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Debt is All Around You (And It’s Accruing Interest)

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This article was written by Dollar D. He is a software developer and finance nerd by day and a real estate investor and blogger by night. He blogs about personal finance, real estate, and financial independence over at The Dollar Disciple.

My wife and I lead pretty busy lives, like most of you I’m sure. When time is tight, or when we’re just plain lazy, the thing to go first is the housework. I was doing some dishes the other day, dishes which had been left in the sink from dinner the night before (gross, i know). And as I scrubbed, I said to myself, “Self, this would be a lot easier if you had just done the dishes yesterday.”

And that’s the truth with many things: doing things today is often easier, faster, or cheaper than doing them later. And yet we put them off anyway. Just like spending today and paying it off (with interest later), we constantly borrow resources from our future to enjoy them today.

Most people who don’t exercise say that they don’t have enough time. But the time you “gain” by not exercising is actually borrowed time. Your health is like a bank account and the balance gets smaller every day. When you exercise, it’s like making a tiny deposit into that account. Not enough for a whole day (otherwise we could work out and live forever :)) but enough that if done consistently, you can maintain good health into your old age. Most of us avoid exercise but eventually that “health debt” must be paid and it will cost you money, time and heart ache later.

In software, writing bad code is a form of debt called “technical debt.” Often times, programmers write bad code to meet a deadline or get their manager off their back. But bad code leads to bugs and fixing bugs can take more time than just writing good code in the first place. It gets worse the longer the bad code survives and it gets way worse if the person who wrote the bad code leaves the company or switches projects. Bad code written by somebody else is even harder to fix than bad code written by you!

There are plenty more examples:

  • dirty dishes left in the sink take longer to clean later
  • bad feelings which go unexpressed can blow up later and ruin a relationship
  • procrastinating on work leads to stress and lost sleep when the project comes due
  • failing to properly maintain your car can lead to expensive repairs in the future

The truth is that there are many more types of debt than the kind you pay back with dollars.

Any time you do something half-way or leave something undone, you’re borrowing from your future: your time, your health, your good mood – the debt must be paid somehow.

Pay the balance today or you will pay the interest later!

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