Jul 31 2013

Would you rather be totally debt-free, or gain 25 lbs.?

Would you rather have all your debts magically paid, but at a cost of gaining 25 lbs.?

Credit Karma issued an interesting press release and infographic (note to PR folks — normally I delete these! The fact that I’m writing about this is rare, ok?)

Harris Poll asked several questions, such as:

  • “How much I weigh is more important to me than how much debt I have” (25% strongly disagree, 32% somewhat disagree, 27% somewhat agree, 16% strongly agree)
  • “I would be willing to gain 25 pounds to get out of debt” (50% strongly disagree, 23% somewhat disagree, 16% somewhat agree, 12% strongly agree)

The pollsters concluded that 43% of people surveyed said their weight was more important to them than their debt.

Further, 72% of those polled said they’d rather keep their current debt, than gain 25 lbs. and be completely debt-free.

Though I wasn’t a part of the poll, I could be included in that 72%.

I have gained 25 lbs. lately. I’m 29+ weeks pregnant! And the extra weight on my frame just plain doesn’t feel good. I don’t need to keep 25 lbs. around just to have no mortgage.

The other thing — I’m not particularly bothered by my debt. Sure, it would be nice for the mortgage to be gone. But if we do nothing differently, it will still be gone in 14 years with not that much interest paid.

So yes, I’m putting my health as worth more than $120k. So what? I think it is! And I don’t consider it a vanity thing. If it was evenly distributed, 25 extra pounds on a non-pregnant me would look bigger, but not obese. But what would it mean for my blood pressure? Blood sugar? Heart? Bone health? Ugh I just ache thinking about it.

I’m struck by the pollster’s concluding language. It’s like they’re surprised and disappointed that people would rather have debt than be heavier. And it’s no surprise — it’s a financial company, not a health company.

Fortunately for us all, there’s no reality show that gives us this decision. There’s no one actually going around offering to pay off all debts if we’d just eat 5 Big Macs a day and wash it down with a case of Pepsi and chase it with a block of fudge.

I posed this question to my husband, Shane, and he had a different take. He wanted to know how long he’d have to hang onto those 25 lbs. If they were on him and boom, he could lose them as he pleased, then he’d rather take that option. He figured it would be easier for him to quickly lose 25 lbs. than it would to pay off the mortgage.

And, he’s right! He’s fit. He ran a marathon. His metabolism and healthy eating habits would have that weight gone in no time.

I find it noteworthy that he’d have more motivation to lose extra weight, than he has to ramp up the mortgage pay-off. Financially speaking, we just have other priorities right now. He’s highly motivated to meet those goals.

Interesting hypotheticals. Now I’m curious — how long would that 25 pounds have to be there? If it was a life-long thing, I’m sure Shane would say no thanks.

How about you? Which would you choose, if you could?

[If you’re interested, the full study and press release can be found here]



3 Responses to “Would you rather be totally debt-free, or gain 25 lbs.?”

  1. I definitely think my health is worth more than those 25 pounds! While I’ve gained some poundage since college, I fully intend to lose it and once the baby is born will be able to safely lose weight. My husband is like Shane–he would gain the extra weight if he could then just lose it (he loses weight very easily and could probably have that extra weight gone 2-3 months without changing much) right after. He’d love to have the mortgage paid off! But, if it was a permanent 25 pounds he would rather pay mortgage interest than health costs! I’m surprised 72% of people said no–Given how non-health conscious the vast majority of Americans tend to be I was thinking it would be more of a 60-40% split!

  2. My “magic” number is 140. When I’m under 140 pounds, I have great blood pressure. When I’m over 140, I have borderline blood pressure that doesn’t seem to respond to healthier eating habits. I’m safely under 140 after baby #3, and plan to stay there. Adding 25 pounds would likely increase my blood pressure, require me to be on daily medication, and take good healthy years off the end of my life. I’ll hang onto my mortgage, thank you very much. I plan to attend my grandkids’ weddings!

  3. Having gained almost 30 lbs myself being 28 weeks prego my first reaction was I’ll take the debt any day. I hate being this over weight. It’s exhausting. However, my second thought was, if I could get rid of a 30 year mortgage for 25 lbs that might not be bad. I’ll just run every morning (like normal for my non pregnant self) and it will fall right off. So it’s an interesting question. I feel like a lot of American choose both . . . We’re obese and in debt.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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