By Lee Parker
Have you ever wondered about how our attitude towards debt has changed over the years? I remember my grandfather, who counted and recorded every penny. He was so frugal ("how frugal was he?") that he saved enough money so that my grandmother could live comfortably after his death. He would have cringed at the thought of leaving her heavily in debt. To my grandfather, and to many of his generation, going into debt was unacceptable.
In today's society, it seems almost "un-American" to NOT be in debt. Unless you carry a handful of plastic credit-cards, a huge mortgage payment, a car payment and/or student loans, you are somehow labeled as an undesirable. There actually is a stigma attached to not having a credit history (i.e. not being in debt).
Have you seen the television advertisement where some poor schmo is informed that he has exceeded his "limit" and his business guests gawk at him? Or what about the young man who is getting a tattoo and doesn't have enough federal reserve notes to pay for the job? The programmed message is that credit will make you a perfect human being.
In high schools today, kids are given pamphlets instructing them on how to "protect" their credit. Going into debt has become a rite of passage into adulthood.
What is so wrong about debt? Why would anyone object to being in debt?
My grandfather - and our Founding Fathers - knew that when you are in debt, your loyalty is owed to your creditors. You may have the fanciest house on the block and the newest car sitting in the driveway, but if you obtained these by borrowing money you have sold your soul in order to have them.
At one time, I was heavily in debt. I was a product of the current perspective that "more is better." I used credit cards to satisfy all my immediate gratification desires. It did not matter that I did not have the money to pay for these items; I just wanted what I wanted, when I wanted it.
I soon learned that the cost of carrying the debt was a millstone around my heart. I would wake up in the middle of the night wondering how I could meet my obligations. I had hives all over my body. I was constantly pre-occupied as to what I could do to pay for the items I had ordered on credit. In reality, the Devil owned my soul and I owned nothing.
That is the tyranny of debt. When you owe for something, you are not free. You must work. You cannot afford to be laid off; you cannot afford to be sick; you cannot afford to live because every cent must go to pay for items you bought on credit.
No wonder you don't feel free. You aren't. If the government does not own your soul, your creditors do.
The only solution is to satisfy all of your current debts and not create new ones. You must regain control over your lives by living within your means. Don't take on new debt. Don't buy what you cannot afford and what you don't have FRNs to buy. Turn your back on all the "hypesters" who would like you to believe that keeping up with the Jones' will make you more acceptable in the eyes of your neighbors. Quit comparing what you have with what others have. Stop evaluating your wealth based on comparisons with others.
Having less means you owe less. If you learn to live within your means, you may not have a lot of "things", but you will own your soul.
By Lee Parker