Ok, so you didn’t win as many scholarships as you wanted to and now you have some loans on your hands. Don’t panic, first of all. But also, don’t get comfortable.
The number one problem students are graduating with in the U.S. is not crippling debt, but no sense of how to control their finances, and instead letting their finances control them.
In the next few weeks, my plan is to take you on a journey to help you see a way out of debt. My goal is to get you to dream way beyond where you are now to where you were made to go. When we accumulate debt and liabilities, we limit what we can do and when we can do it. We end up in what might feel like a dead end job but guarantees we can make our loan payment. Or we get discouraged about actually getting out from under debt and only make minimum payments – forcing ourselves to pay tons of interest and living under the burden of that choice for decades.
The Borrower is Slave to the Lender
It’s an uncomfortable phrase to be sure – and it should be. We live in a society that treats credit as absolutely equal to cash. For a great tutorial and a shocking revelation of our national debt, check out How the Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio. According to Mr. Dalio, the American economy in 2013 contained $50 trillion in credit and $3 trillion in cash. That is only distressing if you realize that credit is essentially a promise to pay back that amount in cash or valuable assets. Much like our country, people have gotten comfortable taking on debt that far outweighs their income – meaning many people are habitually consuming more than they produce and falling deeper and deeper into debt. The commonness of this situation has increased the general comfort with this situation. But that is a problem. While some have wrongfully justified their reckless borrowing via the potential of a short lifetime, bargaining against future (uncertain) success, or the reality of some societal “safety nets” like bankruptcy court. Unfortunately for the borrower (but good news for the government and taxpayers), student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, so this is one kind of debt that is incredibly difficult to weasel out of – if you borrow, you have to pay it back.
The Good News
Although the borrower might be slave to the lender, it’s worth noting that we live in a free market where, generally speaking, our own productivity (that is our means of making money) is only limited by our own resourcefulness and willingness to work. There are a lot of ways to pay off debt legitimately, but none of them are easy. This blog was created to help people stay out or get out of debt, but there are no shortcuts – the road to both of those destinations for those without trust funds involve hard work and focus. Fortunately you don’t have to be born with any kind of advantage to be able to work hard and focus on a goal. No matter who you are, what you look like, what kind of family raised you, or where in America you live, hard work and focus have taken people from every background to their goals and beyond. And if you don’t want to hear that from me, take it from this immigrant kid.
So if you’re tired of paying off debt and feeling like you never get any closer to being free, or if you’re freaked out by debt and you want to get out as fast as you can, or if you’re starting to feel uncomfortable because you’re beginning to realize that debt isn’t all it was cracked up to be, I invite you to join us. The next few weeks we are going to cover some principles and practical advice for getting out of debt. Many of the principles are courtesy of our mentor, Dave Ramsey, who has truly changed the way we approach debt. The advice is stuff we have stumbled upon, picked up along the way, or been given by friends, family, and the school of hard knocks. I hope it helps and I hope you finish each post fired up about being free.
It’s always nice to know if something has helped or resonated with you – if it has, please leave a note in the comments!