Save For a Rainy Day and Avoid the Pitfalls of Voluntary Servitude

rainy day

Debt has become such a given in our culture that many of us take large amounts of it on without giving it a second thought. We Americans are born optimists, and we often buy now and plan to pay later, when we have advanced in our company and our paycheck is a little fatter.

We no longer save for a rainy day; we buy in anticipation of many sunny days. Despite the nationwide slowdown in consumer spending, debt levels remain astronomically high. The average American household owes about $16,000 in credit card debt; the average student owes $23,000 in loans, the total consumer debt is an astonishing $15+ trillion, when mortgages are figured in. That’s a lot of average personal debt!

What none of the layaway and low-interest ads tell us is that debt can be better described as pure financial slavery, and what makes it worse is that it is a voluntary servitude, a slavery that results only as we make poor financial choices. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, obligatory even in a difficult economy that must produce financial slavery for even lower-class Americans.

Need proof of this widespread voluntary servitude? How many Americans are working a job (or two) that they don’t like because they have high bills to pay, bills made higher by the debt load that most Americans carry? Studies show that a huge percentage of Americans barely tolerate their jobs; that means that they are not pursuing any dreams other than having a late model car, the latest smart phone, nice furniture and a 6-foot flatscreen TV. We have traded personal happiness for financial slavery.

Many factors contribute to this widespread condition: even high school students receive credit card solicitations, online financial services will lend money to just about anyone and people who have less but insist on living debt-free are seen as true oddballs.

Here, in detail, are several reasons why debt=slavery:

Debt is slavery because it restricts freedom.

Monthly debt payments limit your cash flow, which could be used for many money-making purposes, for instance. If your debt payments are high enough, you might need to take a 2nd job or work overtime whenever possible, further restricting your personal freedom. You can’t take a new job or a risk a big move when you are carrying too much debt. You are truly bound to your debt. When you get out of debt, you can tell your employer to take his job and shove it if you want to, as you build savings and true freedom to do what you want to do in life, for a living. Someone has well defined financial freedom as “the freedom to make choices in your life without having to worry about the day to day financial implications. “ Few Americans, racked with a high average personal debt, know of such freedom.

Debt is slavery because it limits your time for personal pursuits of pleasure.

Do you long for a weekend in the woods to hike and camp, but never get around to it because you have to work a second job to meet your debt bills? You are officially a slave to debt. Your debt is actually dictating your use of time, your most precious resource. When you think of work as the activity that is excessively blocking your use of free time, you begin to realize how large of an impact that debt has on your weekly routine and choices. It’s chilling to think of debt as the invisible hand behind our use of time, but it is.

Debt is slavery because you trade possessions for experiences.

Possessions definitely bring a level of pleasure, but any reasonable person will tell you that experiences are what produce the most cherished memories, not time spent behind the wheel of a car that you can’t really afford. When you borrow $2,000 to buy a theatre-size flatscreen TV, you are making it impossible to spend $2,000 on a trip to a cherished vacation spot with your family. The more indebted you become due to possessions that you don’t really need, the less money you have to pursue experiences that can enrich your life.

Break the chains! Live the life that you want to live! Make a plan to become debt free as soon as possible. The temporary hurt will be replaced by long-term happiness and true freedom.