The Money Blog

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There’s an element of choice in debt

Jun 24, 2021

This post is the first in a series wherein I explore the effect of debt on our lives.

Debts can either be good or bad – depending on a few features that I will explore over the course of several PHE newsletters.

Let me start by listing the bad debts:

  • Credit cards
  • Student loans
  • Car payments
  • Bank loans
  • Personal loans
  • Tax arrears
  • Mortgages

Some debts - such as student loans - are unavoidable on your path to practice. But most debts are, in fact, a choice. You don’t need to have a particular home or car. We exercise our free will in all of these purchases.

And there is nuance here as well. Not only is it our choice to pull the trigger, but there is also the degree to which we do it.

Medical schools are full of students who exceed basic tuition and living expenses by running up lines of credit on travel and restaurants. You can finance the Honda Pilot or the Acura MDX (hint: they all run on the minivan chassis…).

You can save and buy cash.

You can, heaven-forbid, purchase used.

There are many ways bad debt can be avoided or mitigated. But let me end by leaving you with one quick thought:

Review your recent major purchases and explore where you could have made either a choice not to buy or could have opted for the more scaled-back version.