We have discussed a wish list as an important aspect of financial planning but there is another list just as important. This article focuses on the opposite of the wish list, the debt list. The debt list is just as important as the wish list and therefore just as much attention should be paid to it though it is certainly not as much fun.
The Debt List
The debt list is simply a complete record of everything and anything you owe somebody else in life. While this may seem to be obvious there is a deeper more subtle meaning that makes this tool all the more powerful for a meaningful life.
First of all let’s talk about the obvious meanings of the debt list. The obvious meanings would be credit cards, student loans, automobile loans, mortgages, department store credit cards, bank loans, etc. These are all financial obligations that you at one time or another signed a contract promising to pay back. Go ahead and take the time to list all of these that you have. Simply list the name of whom the money is owed and the amount owed as of the last date known. Be sure and consider not only money in your name but also money in which you were a cosigner or a joint account holder.
The Meaning of Debt
The next step in creating the debt list involves expanding the meaning of debt from our standard definition. A debt is simply something owed to someone or something. Most of us think only of financial obligations like those listed above. However, there is a more subtle meaning and this meaning involves ANYBODY and ANYTHING you owe ANYTHING to. What do I mean by this? For example, you owe your parents appreciation for the love and support they have given you over the years; you owe your college education institution gratitude for helping you get to the point you are at today. Do you see how what we owe can be broadened to include other aspects of our lives?
Adding Items to the List
Take the time now to add more items to your debt list. But this time think outside of the box. What do you owe your country? Your city? Your friends? Your job? Your body? Your environment? Your health? Your planet? Your universe? You get the idea right? Think big and think broad and come up with, as many things as you can that you owe other people, places or things for services past rendered. Obviously, most of these items will not have a monetary amount attached to them. Leave that blank and we will discuss it next.
Now go back to the list of untraditional debt items you just made and try to quantify what you can give back to those entities for restitution and appreciation. You may designate a dollar amount or you may designate non-monetary things such as appreciation, respect or even a simple letter. Use your imagination and come up with the perfect restitution for each item you have listed. Once you finish doing this your debt list is complete. As with the wish list it is something that is always changing therefore it should be continuously updated as circumstances and life changes with the passing of time.