Saturday, December 5, 2009

I Generally Don't Hate, but I Hate This!

Disclaimer: This may appear a bit harsh, but I'm just very passionate about this subject and witnessed another experience with some other family members that really charged me up all over again. I actually gave a speech on this very subject one time, and some excerpts from that speech are included in the post below.

Hate is such a harsh word. I might occasionally say that I dislike someone or something, but I don't hate. It just sounds so ugly. But, you know what? There is something that I do hate...big time hate! You know what it is? DEBT!!!! There is nothing good about it. It is debilitating, stifling, suffocating, humiliating, and I could go on and on almost endlessly. I have seen debt destroy families, marriages, and lives in general. Is that the fault of debt? Well no - the person using and relying on debt is at fault, howver we have been socialized to believe that debt is "normal" - in that we have a right to be in debt, because it is our right to make purchases by credit. I've played that game too, and I've lost! But, I am actually grateful for that loss. It radically changed me and caused me to embark upon a journey to financial freedom! I'm still on the journey - not free yet - but plan to be one day. Now, don't get me wrong. Freedom from debt to me is NOT being ridiculously wealthy. Freedom from debt for me is not owing anybody anything and being free to liberally give and give and give! God doesn't want me to hoard but to cheerfully give. He has blessed me to be a blessing to others.

I am so ashamed of the society of hoarders that we've become. We have been trained to seize the day, take advantage of the moment, and make that purchase! Oh, but I don't have enough money. That's okay - charge it! Seems easy enough...right? We won't see the bill until next month, and then the credit card company will make it "easy" for us to make installment payments (with interest, of course) if we're unable to pay it off when the bill comes in. Unfortunately, if we keep up this pattern and way of thinking for awhile, we'll be in debt up to our eyeballs. As financial expert, Larry Burkett once noted, "Indulgence, impulse buying, and get-rich-quick schemes all have the same root cause: greed." However, this got-to-have-it-now mentality hasn't always been in existence. Again, according to Burkett, loans and credit purchases really were not that prominent prior to the 1950s when home loans took to the forefront due to inflation and the rising cost of homes. Prior to that time, the majority of purchases were made "cash on the barrel" so to speak. In other words, if people didn't have the cash to pay for something (including a home), they didn't get it until they did. Having things wasn't as important as having freedom - freedom of not being a slave to a lender.

And, if simply having the things we want isn't motivating enough, the next biggest motivator to increasing debt load today seems to be the notion that debt can be a tool to increase our wealth. You've heard the expression, "it takes money to make money". Well, often times it does, but it should only take money you have. According to a survey by Forbes magazine of the 400 richest people, "the best way to build wealth is to become and stay debt free". They even cited a few companies that are currently run completely debt-free: Walgreen's, Cisco, Microsoft, and Harley-Davidson to name a few. Dave Ramsey, popular financial expert and host of the Dave Ramsey Show puts it this way, "I have met with thousands of millionaires in my years as a financial counselor, and I have never met one who said he made it all with Discover Card bonus points. They all lived on less than they made and spent only when they had cash. No payments." Truly, your largest asset to actually building wealth is your income. When you have your income tied up in monthly payments and interest each month - you lose out. However, when you have more discretionary income, you open the opportunity to investment thereby opening the possibility of wealth building...resulting in the opportunity for radical giving!

Again, I am not perfect in the finances area - far from it actually. But, the mistakes I've made have actually resulted in some pretty cool lessons learned. I'm so tired of seeing debt as destroyer and limiter in our lives, and my family is making some pretty huge strides in trying to eliminate it as quickly as possibly. I challenge you to make some similar changes in your life. Dare to be different! Dare to try something new - cash only thinking! Dare to prove to your friends and family that you aren't going to be entrapped into this "got-to-have-it-now mentality". Finally...dare to be debt free!

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