Celebrate Independence from Debt

By , July 2, 2017

The Fourth of July  is upon us, time to celebrate freedom, and, if we’re honest, assess just how free we actually are.

This year, I’m thinking about the most common thing that prevents Americans from being free: debt.

We don’t carry debt. We pay as we go. That simple strategy, with a bit of finessing (see below) allows us to live as we do. We do spend money, we just don’t carry debt.

The only debt in the household at the moment comes from Aly’s student loans. She managed to avoid the crushing loan debt we hear so much about on the news these days, and what little she has, she’s paying off at an accelerated rate. Joke if you must about adult children living at home, we love it, and it allows her to get out from under her debt—to achieve freedom—as quickly as possible. Michelle and I worked about 10 years to pay off college; Aly will not experience that. She has learned from us to hate and avoid debt, and to pay it off as soon as possible if it proves unavoidable.

We avoid debt by making sure we live within our means. It’s that simple, and that difficult (see Self Discipline: The Key to Self Reliance). It probably helps a lot that we don’t have access to television or commercial radio, so we’re not as bombarded by advertising as most people are.

Ironically, our country’s system thrives on debt. I remember when Michelle and I bought our first commercially-sold car, years ago. Being a young couple without a lot of equity, we needed someone to co-sign the loan, so I naturally turned to my parents. We quickly learned that, because of their philosophy of avoiding debt, and years of practicing it, my parents had no credit history! In certain ways, they were non-entities in American society because they avoided debt.

That taught us to build a credit history, carefully, over time, starting with a Sears credit card back in the day. Eventually, we could finance a home. We did this mostly by buying with credit cards, then paying back the full balance, becoming “dead beats” in the eyes of the credit industry (see “Abusing” Credit Cards to Add Value).

Beyond that, though, debt is a pitfall, a snare, an impediment to freedom. It can’t always be avoided—any kind of health crisis would surely sink us in a heartbeat—but as long as it can be avoided, we enjoy, and celebrate, the freedom!

2 Responses to “Celebrate Independence from Debt”

  1. Angela says:

    We are debt free and definitely don’t take it for granted. So many people we know are drowning it debt from huge mortgages, car payments, credit card debt, and lots unnecessary things etc. Going to work just to make payments on “stuff” is such a trap. We live in a very small mortgage free house and drive reliable used cars by choice. We don’t feel the need to keep up with the Joneses…I do find that expression rather humorous since that is my maiden name. I am definitely NOT related to that set of Joneses…:)

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Angela, that’s hilarious! I guess, in one sense, we’re keeping up with the Joneses, as long as you’re the Jones in question!

    I used to associate with a guy who founded his Web presence on the fact that he got his family out from under a huge credit card debt. All I could ever think about that was: “how did you get into such debt in the first place?” Sadly, it really is “The American Way,” but you, many others, and my family are proof that there really is a better way to live.

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