UNITED STATES—When you have a bit of extra money in the wallet or the purse, there are only three options to choose from: spend, save or pay off debt. For most people, we fall for spending or paying off debt, which raises the question, why is SAVING money at the bottom of the list?

We’re a country where most of us don’t prepare for the future; we want things, and when we want them, we want them right away (the reason we are so quick to spend). When it comes to paying off debt, most Americans don’t like owing people. So we’re deciding between being broke and not owing someone or being broke and still owing someone. Yeah, it’s like a catch-22 people. Me personally, I prefer to pay off my debt, save a little and then spend when it leaves just enough cushion room for me to have to ensure that my hard-earned money isn’t spent solely on bills.

I almost wish I had never gotten a credit card. Why? Because one credit card turns into two, and before you know it, you have 5 or 6 cards. The amount of interest on one credit card alone can leave a person digging out of debt for years. I would make the argument that most debt for Americans come from credit cards. We continue to fail to realize that a credit card is money that does not belong to us. Most of us know this, yet we continue to keep that rationality in our mind.

Look at things this way; let’s say you receive $5,000 today. You have $3000 in debt that needs to be paid off. What should be the rational thing to do? Most people would probably spend $1,500 on that debt owed, and spend the other $3,500 on materialistic things. However, the wise thing to do would pay off that debt plus put a $1,000 in savings and then take a $1,000 and do whatever. Just imagine if we started thinking about the level of stress that can be alleviated when you no longer have to worry about outstanding debt that could be haunting your life.

When it comes to saving, the more money you have in the bank, the more interest that one can draw on that money. That interest can be used to pay off current debt or future debt that may arise. Something to also consider is the fact that the interest you make on funds saved can be used to purchase items that you’ve been eagerly looking to acquire in your lifestyle. By nature, we will always and I mean always be inclined to buy.

We live in a capitalist culture and the fact that goods and services are always at our fingertips, will always tempt us to buy on impulse. Temptation is hard to resist, especially because we use materialistic things as a cover to make ourselves feel better. But remember emotions are temporary, something you buy on Monday, you will care less about on Tuesday and so on. Buying things on impulse or in reaction to some sort of life crisis is never a smart move. I’ve said this before and I will say this again: don’t allow money to control you, if you do the quicker that you obtain those funds the quicker that they will disappear.