Send hol­i­day loans and ‘dumb debt’ pack­ing

Auckland City Harbour News - - OPINION -

‘‘Ap­proval with­out a dis­ap­prov­ing at­ti­tude.’’

This is a phrase I saw on the part of Har­money’s web­site ad­ver­tis­ing hol­i­day loans.

Har­money is an on­line peer-topeer lender, where peo­ple with money can go to in­vest by lend­ing to peo­ple who want to bor­row for things like hol­i­days. The phrase is clever mar­ket­ing. No mat­ter how nor­malised debt be­comes, peo­ple still fear be­ing judged by the lenders who lend to them.

That fear, I think, is a symp­tom of a guilty con­science in many cases.

It’s like that lit­tle voice in your head when you head back to the fridge for the other half of the choco­late block. You know you are do­ing some­thing a bit naughty that even you your­self dis­ap­prove of but just don’t have the willpower to re­sist.

When you bor­row on­line, there’s no dan­ger of see­ing that dis­ap­proval in the eyes of an­other hu­man be­ing.

Har­money will only judge you on your abil­ity to re­pay, no mat­ter what you bor­row for.

Sure the in­vestor, a per­son with money to earn in­ter­est on, may think bor­row­ing for a hol­i­day is ‘‘dumb debt’’ to use the Re­tire­ment Com­mis­sion’s phrase, but the bor­rower never has to look into their eyes.

It’s no won­der that pay­day lenders seem to be do­ing so well lend­ing on­line.

I can see how peo­ple get tempted into bor­row­ing to hol­i­day.

Some will be led to it by peer pres­sure, or a friend who de­cides to get mar­ried in the is­lands and (un­rea­son­ably) in­vites you along with­out giv­ing you a plane ticket.

For oth­ers it will be bet­ter-off friends head­ing for fun in the sun ask­ing you to tag long.

In some case the ‘‘hol­i­day’’ will be a trip to a fu­neral or a spe­cial event be­ing held over­seas by fam­ily in what­ever ‘‘old coun­try’’ you come from.

That feels eas­ier to jus­tify. Fam­ily mat­ters.

But a debt-fu­elled hol­i­day leaves only mem­o­ries and a pile of money to pay back.

Ow­ing money is stress­ful, no mat­ter how much we pre­tend it is nor­mal, and hav­ing debt that isn’t con- trib­ut­ing to a wealth­ier and more sta­ble fi­nan­cial fu­ture just isn’t smart.

Be­ing be­holden to oth­ers, be­ing at their mercy should we lose our job or fall sick is re­ally too big a risk to take for a hol­i­day.

If you need time off but can’t af­ford to pay a hol­i­day, have a stay­ca­tion and ex­plore the lo­cal re­gional and na­tional parks or do a hous­eswap or go camp­ing.

If your friends are get­ting hitched in Van­u­atu, don’t go but buy them a lovely present and ask them to livestream their wed­ding so you can be there in an af­ford­able way.

Even fu­ner­als are live-streamed th­ese days and rightly so.

Many de­ceased peo­ple would be hor­ri­fied to think of their loved ones spend­ing thou­sands to go to their fu­neral.

In­ter­est-free credit like that be­ing of­fered by House of Travel at the mo­ment is OK – if you have the money to pay it off the mo­ment the in­ter­est-free pe­riod is over.

At least you won’t be over­pay­ing for your short time in the sun but be care­ful not to let con­sumer debt be­come nor­mal in your life.

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