Debt in the Vortex?

Years ago when I balked at continuing work with my coach because I didn’t want to charge $1,000 on my credit card, she reminded me of the concept of good debt versus bad debt.

She said that investing in yourself is good debt.

Which was not the rule I watched my parents live by: “don’t spend money you don’t have.” 

And as a financial planner, I was taught lots of distinctions about what makes for good debt versus bad debt.

But it’s not that black and white. 

For example, most folks would probably agree that these types of loans are good:

  • Student loan
  • Vet bill
  • Home mortgage
  • Small business loan

While these types of loans are not so good:

  • Borrowing $100 to turn your luck around at the casino
  • Spending grocery money on lottery tickets
  • Credit card debt
  • New car loan
  • Plastic surgery
  • Time share vacation loan
  • Mall shopping spree

We’re pretty good at knowing the difference, right? Schooling, medical care, shelter, business investments … if you’re going to spend money you don’t have, that’s the right way to do it.

And money spent on ridiculous things like expensive vacations and vanity surgeries is bad debt, right? We all know we shouldn’t spend money we don’t have on depreciating assets or frivolous experiences.

But savvy deliberate creators know it’s not that simple.

The difference between good debt versus bad debt is how you feel about it.  Not what it’s for.

Or even what it results in.

If I can borrow $100 from mom to blow it on the blackjack table in 20 fast minutes, but I love every minute of it and feel great about that spending before during and after – I’m in the vortex, baby. And that’s good.

And if I fund my brilliantly inspired dream with a small business loan that

  • I’m terrified about not being able to pay off,
  • believing it’s putting my family’s assets in jeopardy,
  • constantly stressing about how to manage my nervous spouse

… I’d have been better off doing something that wasn’t so

negatively charged for me.

What we’re talking about is debt in the vortex versus debt out of the vortex.

My suggestion is you don’t just assume that money spent “this” way is good and money spent “that” way is bad. But rather pay attention to how this opportunity to spend makes you feel.

Key words: How You Feel. Not how it makes mom feel, or not what the hubby thinks about it. How it makes YOU. FEEL.

Joe Dominguez’s book Your Money Or Your Life taught me it’s okay not to want to a nicer house and bigger car if that’s not what I care about. If what matters to me is buying new books from the bookstore instead of borrowing from my local library, then that’s money well spent. For ME.

And if I find the most peace by mortgaging my house to pay for two hip replacement surgeries on an eight year old foster dog, guess what? No one else can label that irresponsible or emotional spending! That’s me in my vortex. And you can’t go wrong in there!

Which is also why I’d do well to reserve judgment for people who sink money into law suits against former loved ones, or friends who spend rent money on bookies, or family members who make cigarettes a higher priority than their dog’s arthritis pain pills.

Not just because technically it’s not my business, but because what matters about how we incur debt is the feeling, not the purpose.

In fact, when the purpose IS the feeling, we may find we have entirely new spending priorities along with much better results in life.

  • March 4, 2011
  • Stephanie says:

    I rally enjoyed reading about this article,

  • Lori Race says:

    As I was reading this Jeanette, I found myself thinking YES! and having the chill of truth! I think I had this sense in my body already about debt but the way you have explained and laid it out is absolutely fabulous! I will be sharing this with friends, family and clients!!! Thank you! xo

  • Amanda says:

    THANK you for this one, Jeannette!!
    This makes TOTAL sense. I’m putting this into practice right now.
    Investing in yourself is good debt

  • Nice to see you again, Alora! Thanks for posting to share you exclamation point energy with us!
    And that would have been a great title for this post: Vortex Spending.
    I’ll be using that phrase for myself – thanks for it, girlfriend!

  • Alora says:

    OoooOoOh! I checked in on your blog at just the right time! I’m loving this idea of Vortex spending – it’s right my alley these days and putting to words something I’ve been processing and coming to for months now.
    Thank you, Jeannette, once again, for being a fabulous source of inspiration and clarity! Ya-hoo!

  • I agree with @Harmony, @Stacy: your comment was enlightening. I think you just really explained to me that Abe concept in a very concrete and detailed way.

  • Harmony Harrison says:

    @Stacy – your comment totally rocked my socks off! 🙂 Can you imagine what the world will be like when most of us are getting the FEELING without *having* to have the STUFF? Oh my gosh, will this be a happy planet… (Actually, it already is!)

  • You’re cracking me up, Pamela! And reminding me of the Q&A post inspired by Dana’s question:
    Those spouses, huh?! lol

  • Pamela says:

    Love your take on “good debt/bad debt”. Really a whole new way of looking at it. Thinking of all the “good debt” I can rack up right now. Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be able to get my husband to see it the same way, though I’ll try my best.

  • Way to leverage yourself into the better feeling thoughts, Stacy. Nice reminder that that’s what it IS all about after all – the feelings.
    Thanks for stopping by to share today! 🙂

  • Stacy says:

    Since I’ve been focusing on feeling good (vs. taking action) and all, my money situation has improved. And since I have been having “extra” money I’ll think, “ohhhh, maybe I should go buy something fun”. And then I do not. Not because I don’t think I deserve something fun – but the idea of buying something and knowing I could and feeling good because of all that is enough. The thing isn’t going to make me happy (or happier) but the feeling was what I wanted/is what makes me happy.
    So yeah – buying stuff or NOT buying stuff isn’t the thing – it’s the feelings behind it. One shouldn’t buy something to try and feel happy – if anything it may make them feel worse. On the other hand, you can definitely spend money on things and it only amplifies feeling good.
    Even though I haven’t gone out and bought something because realizing I COULD has made me happy on it’s own – I know I will buy something. I guess I’m waiting to find inspiration on the thing I want most. I’m thinking a new camera because my old one is crapping out and I want to be able to easily take pics of the kittens and Zoey. Kitten and pooch pictures – now that’s feel good and fun.
    But I have to say – it feels GREAT to GET the Abe point that it’s not the stuff we want so much as the feeling. And I’m getting that feeling WITHOUT the stuff. That freakin’ rocks my socks off, man.

  • Anna,
    “Judgement… always seems to be hanging around the core, whether it’s coming at us from another, or from ourselves.
    Is it any wonder that society gives ultimate say of its biggest decisions to the supreme court *judges*?”
    is such a great point! I never thought of it like that!
    Thank you for that insight!

  • Oh, Saturn in 8 at the time! Wow. That does explain a bit, doesn’t it?
    Love that you’re practicing Thomas’ mantra, Jesann, and that you’ve got stronger conviction about honoring your own guidance next time you have a similar situation arise.
    I suspect your story may inspire others to find their own true answers, too, whatever they may be – so thanks for sharing so openly!

  • Jesann says:

    This actually brings up a lot of psychic gunk for me, so if my post seems stilted or odd, it’s because I’m trying to control myself. This post may also contain TMI; you’ve been warned.
    I wanted to leave college because I didn’t want student loans. At all. It wasn’t worth it to me because I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I had a job lined up — not really what I wanted to do, but it was better than debt — and a place to live.
    I let my mother scare me into staying in school.
    The past couple of decades have been spent trying to find something to do that was remotely acceptable and would earn me enough to get out of debt. This has only led to more debt (grad school, etc.).
    I am absolutely thrilled that, now with the bad economy, student loans are finally being seen for what they are, and that they are no longer considered debts people should be saddled with, just grinning and bearing them.
    I sincerely wish someone had been around to shake me and remind me of how horrible the idea of going into debt was making me feel, and letting me know that it would have been okay for me to follow my gut. (BTW, for those of you into astrology, Saturn was in my ascendant’s 8th house of debt at the time.) I should also stop talking about the loans because I’m getting the urge to complain spitefully about the people involved, and that won’t do any good.
    (I’ve been practicing mantras for the past few months [from Thomas Ashley-Farrand’s books], and the karmic fighting regarding money has been rather awful, though that does mean something is happening.)
    Thank you, Jeannette.

  • “biggest bank for my borrowed buck” – that’s fun to say, Anna, let alone PRACTICE!
    Thanks for chiming in. 🙂

  • Michele says:

    Wow, as someone who’s currently cleaning up my financials, I never really thought about it this way. What a great way to think about money, thank you!!

  • Anna says:

    I adore my priorities, what’s important, matters and makes me feel goooood. Nobody knows me like I do, so of course I’m the best one to decide where I’m going to get the biggest bang for my borrowed buck – regardless of what anyone else may think.
    Judgement… always seems to be hanging around the core, whether it’s coming at us from another, or from ourselves.
    Is it any wonder that society gives ultimate say of its biggest decisions to the supreme court *judges*?

  • Glad it was a timely read for you, Michele. And kudos for finding your way to feeling better about your financials. (Assuming that “cleaning them up” does just that for you.)
    Thanks for your post! 🙂

  • I like how you said that, Sophie. It spotlights that even if we’re NOT spending, if that doesn’t FEEL good to us, we aren’t any further ahead for it!

  • Thank you for this post Jeannette! It’s nice to read what I think about spending (or not spending): it needs to make ME feel good. Spending or saving from the heart does put us in the vortex we create from. And helps us have compassion and suspend judgement on other people’s spending!

  • It sounds like it to me, Houkje! (That you found your way into the vortex by honoring that inspired spending!)
    Anything that makes us feel good is either putting us on the path in or landing us squarely in it, so kudos to you for honoring your “feel good.”
    Thanks for reading and especially for posting, my friend. 🙂

  • Houkje says:

    I LOVE this post. The other day, I impulsively signed up for a monthly membership to a local spa… despite being in a financial precarious position. I have been traditionally VERY conservative with my money… and didn’t quite understand why I felt compelled to spend money so freely that day… when I usually would have closed the wallet.
    I’m not sure I know what the vortex is… but I think I may have entered it.

  • You crack me up, Ande! (Thinking I’d lost my mind.)
    Thanks for the laugh!

  • When I first started skimming (yes, I admit I was skimming) this post earlier today, I thought, “Good God, she’s lost her mind,” because I thought you were saying that some debt is definitely good and some is definitely bad. Then I got more TIME, and READ the post ;), and I realized you’re as sane as always and making an absolutely wonderful point. And I love, love, love your example of the hip replacements. As a woman who invested thousands of dollars in alternative therapies for an elderly dog, I can relate. And that money was always in my vortex.
    “Dog money” still is. I won’t use a credit card to buy new clothes, but I will to buy quality raw food for Ducky. 🙂 It’s so true that it’s all about what feels good!

  • Cassie says:

    Great post and reminder Jeanette. It made me smile because it made me think of my Jeep Wrangler. I bought it six years ago. It’s paid off now, but I was young and a little nervous about making the payment. However, I soon realize it was easy to make the payment because I LOVE my jeep. I get excited every time I get in it and I was happy to pay for it each month. Thanks for the reminder!

  • What a great role model for appreciating debt, Cassie! I love that!
    I did sort of feel that when I furnished my first apartment out of college … I couldn’t believe they let me leave with their furniture without having paid them hardly anything. Feeling that immense gratitude that they trusted me, sort of made me feel trustworthy and competent and that “if they think I can pull this off, surely I can.” lol
    Thank you, Cassie, for the chance to reflect on appreciation of debt. THAT is a nice vibe!

  • Harmony Harrison says:

    Really interesting! I usually think of debt as a way to leverage my assets to create more assets. (Even if I don’t want more assets — wow, am I smelling an energetic disconnect here?)
    I love keeping my lifestyle modest but amazing, and I also loved the book “Your Money or Your Life.” I read it in my early 20’s when I was just starting out as a financial adult, and it helped me set myself free from all the concepts of what my material life and career “should” look like. Now I totally adore the material life and careers my husband and I have created together, and I’m grateful for every opportunity we’ve had to leverage the tool of debt to create this beauty.
    But if I didn’t love my house, my land, our businesses? Hm, it wouldn’t be worth it.

  • Jennifer Stoll says:

    Well said, Jeannette! Money is simply a tool. How it’s used is just as unique as the individual. The nice thing is we can transform how we feel about certain things by stating “we’re not spending our money on that right now” rather than judging or labeling something as frivolous. Love it!

  • You’re not alone in that perspective, Harmony. Many financial managers recommend smart debt to grow their clients’ assets.
    I think my upbringing makes it harder for me to experience that with a total high vibe, despite all my financial training to the contrary.
    But whatever makes us feel best is what works best. Good to remember. Thanks for posting, Harmony.

  • This is one I still have to remind myself of, Anna (not to judge how others handle their money), but speaking it here helps me accomplish that better.
    I hope. lol

  • Anna says:

    Jeannette, I love all of your post and this one is awesome. It reminds me not to judge. Someone elses vortex is not the same as mine and all that matters is that they are in it, as I am in mine.

  • Thanks for that, Nancy!
    And Jennifer, so true! How we word something can make SUCH a difference in how we feel about it. It took me a while to change the knee jerk habit of saying “I can’t afford that” to “That’s not what I’ll be spending my money on.” BIG difference – empowerment and choice present in the latter.
    That actually would make a great separate post … how to deliberately choose the wording that uplifts even when the situation is the same.
    Thanks for popping in on this one, Jennifer!

  • BarbaraM, there’s a strong connection between stress, fear and breathing! I researched that great quote for a post on the subject, after hearing it from Jeannette. It’s from Robert Heller, a magician in the 19th Century. 😉
    To read about the connection:
    Many blessings,

  • Glad it made an impact, Gemstone. Thanks for writing to say so. 🙂

  • Gemstone says:

    What an inspired post. Made me stop in my tracks and really think about money energy in an entirely new way. You’re the best Jeannette!

  • I love it when the comments are even more inspiring than the original post!
    Thanks for reading and for posting, BarbaraM! 🙂

  • BarbaraM says:

    Hey Jeannette, I love this post. It only matters how we feel about it. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE Julie’s comment and quote about fear.Gosh, this is completely different perspective!!!!

  • A succinctly worded reminder, Kim – thanks for that! 🙂

  • Kim Falconer says:

    I Love this post! It’s such a wonderful reminder that money is energy, like air. Everyone, just take a deep breath!

  • Oh, Julie! We will have some fun together! So glad to see you joining the party! 🙂

  • Julie Masters says:

    Well this post pushed me right over the edge–and into the party! Excited and scared–Oh wait–remembering one of my favorite quotes from Fritz Perls, “Fear is excitement without the breath”. Need to do some breathing! LOL

  • Ha! “on the money” lol
    Thanks for sharing this on facebook and at GVU, Nancy! Much appreciated. 🙂

  • Beautifully expressed, Jeannette! So “on the money” about how we circulate this type of energy supply.
    Many blessings,

  • Glad to hear it inspired joy, Ming. (Sometimes we’re so well programmed on this topic that it’s just uncomfortable no matter how it’s addressed.)
    Thanks for reading and especially for sharing! 🙂

  • Ming says:

    Jeannette, I just LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. May be my favorite if I can have one. Because just reading it brings me so MUCH JOY! So I must be in the vortex. You certainly know where the party is!
    I was just telling my colleague about this, going to share this with her as well (I already emailed it to my hubby hee hee)

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