I recently found myself in a dentist's office, signing a form to put myself in debt for over a thousand dollars to finally fix the cracks in my teeth once and for all. I first broke my front teeth in elementary school, and then again in elementary school....and then again.....and then twice more in middle school. After that I finally got over my apparently debilitating motor control issues and it wasn't a problem other than the occasional bouts of self doubt when I noticed the line that marked real tooth from porcelain. That is, until the stupid things finally gave out after a brutal battle with a soft taco. I was once again put in the position of going to the dentist, except now I'm the one in control of my finances and my ma didn't make the appointment for me (gasp).
Here comes the financial shit: I could either pay for another porcelain filling (roughly $40 after insurance covered what they could) and then repeat that process every few years for the rest of my life. Keep in mind every time the chip breaks off, my teeth are weakened ever so slightly and the chances increase of me having a 3rd (yes I've already been through two, which is two too many) root canal. So there's that prospect, or I could pay the $1,000 dollars to get fancy crowns and be done with the issue all together. Ya'll already know what I decided to do, and it's impacted my life.
For one thing it forced me to confront the other areas of debt in my life. My credit card, something I've been ignoring except to pay the minimum monthly payment, has been a silent weight on me since I racked it up to within $3 of the max limit. That is not a place any of you want to be, but it's where I've been hanging out since I got back from Turkey. I definitely could have spent the next few years balancing on the line of "I'll pay it off eventually, I just don't have the cash right now" and "OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT" but for one little thing I have tucked away: $800 of cash, the product of months of saving up on tips. This was my adventure fund. My spring break extravaganza just waiting to happen! And now it was my bundle of guilt, because one area of debt at $1000 is something I can handle, but two? I didn't, and still don't, want to be at the point in my life where I put off my adventures in exchange for responsibility. Yet here we are, I've paid off my credit card debt and am fresh out of the cash to take me on my last chance at a fun Spring Break of my college career.
The thing is, it feels great. That credit card hasn't been at 0 since I got it. I don't have to pay anything for the next two months because there's nothing to pay! If there's an emergency I actually have options rather than hoping my parents have some extra cash lying around! I don't have to fill up my gas tank 10 dollars at a time!
But it also feels like shit. I made the responsible decision. I took the mature route. The problem is I don't want to be mature yet. I want to go on stupid adventures and blow all the money I have and drink my way through Saturday night and go to classes hungover. I want spontaneity! I want to make some truly terrible choices and have a great time doing it! We all say things won't change too much and we won't turn into pencil pushers who let money run our lives, but this is my first step towards that reality. I'm already gonna be spending the next quarter of my life paying off student loans! Do I really need to add more responsibility and hunger for money on top of that?
I suppose we'll just have to wait and see.