Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Living without the plastic cushion

This is one of the best articles I have read in a while.
Lisa Brough was forced into a debt-free life by medical disaster.

Her husband has Huntington’s disease, a degenerative brain disorder, and has been unable to work since 1999. The couple, who have three children, saw their finances suffer as a result. They ended up with $50,000 worth of credit card debt as Brough worked two jobs and still struggled to pay the bills and the high property taxes on their home in Westchester County, N.Y.

“I said to myself, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ ” she recalled. “He was going downhill, and I had to figure out a way to get out of this. I couldn’t count on tomorrow because I didn’t know what tomorrow would bring.”

In 2005, she took drastic measures. She decided to sell her $350,000 home, pay off all the family’s debt, and move to lower-cost Cary, N.C., where she was able to buy a house for $164,000 house in cash.

Since then it’s been cash and debit cards only for Brough, 50, who has no debt of any kind.

How does she do it? She buys secondhand furniture and electronics, gets her husband’s medicines from Canada at cut rates, has a $10,000 emergency fund and thinks long and hard before she opens up her wallet.

“When you use cash you think about what your needs are because you’re paying a big chunk of money at once,” she said.

This concept is probably a foreign one to many Americans who are addicted to buying almost everything on credit. But believe it or not, it is possible to survive and thrive without depending on credit cards. In fact, Brough is part of a small but growing debt-free movement, some joining because of personal or economic hardships, and others just looking to simplify their lives.
Read the rest here.

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