Debt-Free Living or Pop Goes the Money

Do you remember singing Here we go round the mulberry bush as a child? Or hearing it played on a jack-in-the-box? This American version of the old English nursery rhyme has entertained children through many generations: All around the mulberry bush, The monkey chased the weasel. The monkey thought ’twas all in fun, Pop! goes the weasel. 

But did you know the old English version, from a theater performance, was about coats and money, not monkeys and weasels?

Half a pound of tuppenny rice, Half a pound of treacle.
That’s the way the money goes. Pop! goes the weasel.

Up and down the City Road, In and out of The Eagle.
That’s the way the money goes. Pop! goes the weasel.

When quoted, back in 1856, even the poor usually had a suit as Sunday’s best. But according to an accepted interpretation of this song, by the time Monday came around, they often had to pop (or pawn) their weasel or stoat (Cockney slang for coat). Presumably because of going in and out of The Eagle, an old pub in London’s City Road, a little too often. And then, of course, they had to try to reclaim their suit in time for Sunday!

Not a healthy tranquil way to live, was it?

But I think many today  still sing Pop Goes the Weasel (or coat), albeit their own modern version:

Dinner out every night, and buying things on credit.
That’s the way the money goes. With bills in the mailbox!
Up and down all through the mall, In and out of the stores.
That’s the way the money goes. In and out of my pocket!

But you know, even in these times of inflation, economic woes, and rising prices, we can make our money stretch further. By careful spending and budgeting, we can live debt free (except a house payment). And lower the risk of losing our coat, car, house, or whatever! Not convinced?

Let’s look at some of the benefits of a debt free life can bring. And at misconceptions that surround some of them.

1) From our research, increased spending power is often at the top of the list.

Whenever we buy on credit, the cost automatically goes up, because we’re paying for interest. As some financial advisors point out: It’s quicker to buy on credit, but you can buy more without it! Which brings us to our second point.

2) More careful spending.

Because buying with credit is quicker, it carries the risk of making rushed, unwise decisions. Also credit seems like ‘easy money’, and unlike our hard-earned cash, we are more apt to let borrowed money slip easily through our fingers.

3) Increased will power.

Most people who live debt free have made a conscious choice to do so. Which means they have had to learn to exercise self-control and will power. Choosing not to always get newer, bigger, or better.

4)  Bigger savings.

Many people who live debt free actually experience greater savings in more ways than one. Not only do they save the interest money they would have spent, but they are also often able to take better advantage of sales and seasonal deals. And they usually find themselves with more money to tuck away as savings too.

5) More time.

This point carries a certain amount of fallacy with it. After all, every day has 24 hours, no more and no less. The question is what do we want to spend our time doing? Debt-free living can help you create more time for doing things you’d rather do. You could work part-time and go fishing. Or you could work the same, but be able to take a missions trip or special vacation.

But the biggest time saver, for us, is that our debt free lifestyle means owning fewer things. We shop less, because we stick to our budget. Less shopping means more time for other things. And fewer things means less time keeping up with them, cleaning them, and maintaining them.

6) Flexibility and freedom to change.

We can never know what the future holds. Today you may feel like you’re stuck in a rut. But what if tomorrow you’re offered some great chance? And you can’t take it, because first you’ve got to pay off your car, your phone, your furniture, and so on? Or because you’re tied to the huge mortgage that goes with that bigger and better house?

7) Freedom to follow your dreams and plans.

Perhaps you’ve dreamed of moving to another country. Of learning the piano, or writing a book. Or maybe you’d like to start your own business. But how could you ever find either the time and money for these things, when you can barely keep your head above water?

Which of course, means popping another myth bubble. Debt-free living does not mean all your wildest dreams will come true. Or that you can buy whatever you want. Even with no debts, achieving dreams still takes honest, hard work. But we can tell you from personal experience, having no debts makes it that much easier.

8) More security.

We chose to put this last, not because it’s least. But because, to us, it’s the most important. Perhaps because in our 26+ years as missionaries, we’ve faced a lot of insecure times. Many a morning we wondered what lunch would be. Not for lack of culinary creativity, but lack of food and money.

Hard times and difficulties bring enough stress and worries all on their own. Why add the burden of unnecessary debt payments? Sometimes it’s hard enough just making day-to-day living expenses. Rent or mortgage, utilities, insurance, food, clothing, and the like. We’re glad we don’t have a bunch of other payments to keep up with.

Do you spend carefully, or are you singing the blues with, “Pop goes the money!”

Therefore don’t be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day’s own evil is sufficient, (Matthew 6:34).

Resource for Pop Goes the Weasel: Wikipedia

[Image ©TheScorziellos-Mario]

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