Yesterday, I proctored the A.P. English Literature exam. That means three and a half solid hours of doing nothing but walking around a big, silent room watching a bunch of 18-year-olds furiously writing. Left alone with my thoughts, I naturally started running numbers in my head. Between now and August, I have about $3,000 in extra income coming in, not factoring in possible summer school income. My thoughts went something like this:
“Should I pay off the credit card debt right away? Yes, definitely.”
“Wait, no, it’s interest free until next summer. I should definitely save it all.”
“….but I hate debt. I just want the balance paid.”
“I’m being too hasty. I should just save it and see what happens.”
“…but I hate debt. I just want the balance paid.”
This brings me to a disturbing conclusion about my financial ideology: I don’t have one. If I was a Dave Ramsey-ite, there’s no question what I’d do – I’d pay the debt off. If I was a Suze Orman-ite, I’d definitely be focusing on saving. But my financial ideology still isn’t well developed enough yet to, without a second thought, move in one direction. Honestly, this kind of bugs me. Probably because in other areas of my life, my ideas are firmly entrenched and I find them easy to support; I don’t waver and I feel confident explaining my positions. My political ideology, for example, is very finely-tuned. So is my educational philosophy.
But financially? There are so many “what-ifs?” in personal finance that I’m still having a hard time nailing down where I stand on even major issues of personal financial strategy – even in the short term!
What about you? Do you have a distinct financial ideology? If so what, is it? If not, why are you struggling to establish one? Please tell me I’m not the only one struggling with this!