For the longest time, I’d thought of my debt merely in dollars and cents. I have X amount of debt. When it is paid off it will have cost me X debt + Y interest = ouch. Lately, I’ve started to think of the more personal cost of debt.

#1: Ability to Invest
Boy are there some steals out there right now! Whether it’s stocks or real estate, there are some great moves that could be made, if you have spendable cash and zero debt. In fact, I saw my dream home for steal, I mean, for sale…cash only. Let’s see here while I pull out $120,000. Oops, I must have left it in my other pocket.

#2: Mobility
With allergy season hurtling upon us with its powerhouse punch combos of leaky, itchy eyes, sneezing, bloody noses and migraines, I was seriously examining what it would take to move Mr. MT and I out of Las Vegas. After several spreadsheets of potential ideas I finally figured out what it would take. ……It would take a miracle. The truth is, enough of our expense would go up if we moved, we couldn’t afford to keep paying down our debt, and might even be forced to default. I’m willing to live my life one benadryl at a time for the sake of my FICO score. Regardless, we used to pride ourselves on our ability to move if necessary to assist family. I’m nervous that if a family emergency occurred, we would have no way to spend precious moments with our loves ones.

#3: A Social Life
Both Mr. MT and I work service industry schedules, which means when our friends are having dinners, we’re going to work; when we’re off work, they’re in bed. One of us might be able to quit our job (boy would that be a stupid move in this economy), but we’re currently more than content to make sure our own schedules are as closely aligned as possible for the sake of our marriage. We keep in touch with our friends and family via e-mail and social networking, and try to let everyone know the rare days we have off.

#4: A Family Of Our Own
Perhaps the most devastating cost of our debt may be the opportunity to start a family. My family health history has suggested that it would be most prudent for us to start a family before I turned thirty. We can pretty safely say that ship has sailed. While we may still attempt to start a family in the near (slightly more debt free) future, the health risks will most certainly increase, for myself and any potential Mini-MT. This certainly won’t deter our potential plan to adopt, but as the last in my familial line, I always hoped to have a child that shared the pieces of generations past. It’s truly disheartening to think that I prioritized things over a future.

It’s really sad to think about the true cost of my debt. Most of these things (hopefully including #4) aren’t permanent, but I can certainly see how many people sink into a deep depression when confronted with their financial missteps. I’m determined to keep plugging through mine, and hopefully I’ll knock out some of these real costs shortly.

Reminder: It’s not too late to send me an e-mail to “toot your own horn.” If you’ve paid off any amount of debt, even all of it, e-mail moderntightwad at gmail dot com, with your (nick)name and the amount by the fifth of the month, and we’ll post it for you.