Is Debt a sinister drug that is freely available?

Debt is everywhere today and yet when I look back to my parents era, to be in debt was to be in a shameful place. Even mortgages were taboo in those days, and if you did get one the aim was to pay it off as fast as possible. People lived within their means and only when they had the money to buy things did they go out and get them. Positive money. My parents had a box and some deck chairs to eat off when they bought their house they couldn't afford to buy them until they had saved up. Then they gradually acquired white goods and other furniture as money permitted. They worked for things and thus appreciated them when they finally bought them.

Today it is a very different story. Debt is an acceptable position, not desirable, but debt no longer comes with any consequence. We all have debt, it is ubiquitous, accepted and normal. The personal debt in the uk is now at astronomical levels £1.4 trillion at the last count.

But let us just look at what has fuelled this debt based society. How on earth did it come to this?

In real terms salaries have not risen for some 30 years but we’ve all felt better off. This has been in the main because house prices have continued to rise and this has created equity in property. The deregulation of the financial markets meant that financial institutions could pretty much lend anybody whatever they wanted, so long as the customer was given all the facts (and understood them?… don’t know how they did that by the way!). So banks were happy to loan against equity in property, and we were happy to consume that equity by spending and spending…

But… what made us change. It used to be that we saved up for things we wanted, then we bought them. Those objects somehow had some value as they represented some hard work, effort, sweat and possibly tears. They held their value much longer as they were associated with the saving and the wait.

Somewhere along the way we changed. I’m also a product of that change too, we no longer wanted to wait, we need it all now; so put it on the credit card, get a loan, or release cash via the equity in our property. I’ve heard it done many many times… people max out on the credit cards and then when the repayments are too much and to the limit…. cash in some equity on the property, remortgage, clear the cards all down and then start all over again. The debt keeps mounting, the greed, the gluttony continues, the neighbour has a new car, we must be superior… a new car arrives… the debt mounts… keeping up with the Jones’s, the desire to be better, prove through our possessions we are doing well… and yet… all we’re doing is fuelling a false retail led economy through debt.

The capitalistic society is fuelled by GDP and growth. The biggest indicator for the economy’s health is retail; how much we are spending. It is no wonder that we are conditioned by everyone in politics, the media, the financial sector, the retail sector, the marketers to buy more stuff, borrow more money and value ourselves in the material products that we surround ourselves with.

So… we find ourselves locked firmly onto the treadmill… we work all the hours to earn the money to buy more stuff and repay our debts, to be able to have a nice home that we never spend any time in… and our lives slip slowly by with us spending less and less time on ourselves, our families and friends until we realise often too late… we have sacrificed our lives for what? … temporary happiness, a load of material objects, worked hard to make others rich,  and destroyed the only thing that really ever mattered… people and relationships… happiness does not come in a bag from a shop… it never did… we’ve been led to think it does… but it doesn’t…

So how can we break free from this stranglehold of debt? How can we get off the treadmill? How do we break free from our materialism and move away from valuing people by what they have to who they are… what they contribute, not what they take?

Personal debt is the dark side, a sinister, freely available (often prescribed / recommended), legal ‘A’ class drug that damages 10’s of millions of lives... Debt teases us with the promise of satisfaction now, gratification now, with payment (pain) way off on another day… a day that doesn’t concern us here and now. Most people brush off future payments with statements like ‘I might have a better job by then’, ‘things might be different then’. Debt gives us that high like a drug but the cost to us is very real, much much longer and highly damaging. Debt puts people and families under financial strain, it brings stresses and arguments over money. Debt can destroy relationships, it brings guilt and misery… worst of all it takes away our freedom. We are slaves to those that have lent us the money and to the ‘life and happiness sapping’ lifestyle of working and repayment.

There is no easy way to quit drugs… there is no easy way to quit debt either. The whole of society is based upon making it easy to have debt, spend money and buy more stuff. Society is geared up to fuelling the materialistic, capitalistic, money driven frenzy that we have been convinced is the norm. So to give up Debt is to go in the opposite direction to ‘most’ other people. To give up debt is to make personal sacrifice, live within your means and say no to things that you want. Giving up Debt will ultimately be painful whilst you go through the transition, and those around you will often think you have gone totally mad.

Why would anyone want to go through all this pain? Because having no debts is freedom. Having no debts is knowing that you can do in your life what you want. Having no debts is opting out of ‘the system’, playing by your own rules. Having no debts is stress free, it’s hugely less expensive and it realigns our values away from more more more of everything to focus on… actually what do I / we need. Debt free people are less wasteful, they buy what they need, when they need it. Imagine no debts for a moment? … positive cash only… what you have in financial resources is yours… not a number entered into your bank account that needs to be paid back to others… Setting a target to be debt free is one of the most liberating things you can do… being debt free means that the huge weight and pressure of this debt based capitalistic society is not resting on your shoulders… debt free means we can focus on what makes us happy without worrying about money… so how do you do it? … what’s the plan to go debt free?

  1. Take stock of your financial position… accept it, own it
  2. Are you going to pay it back? … are you going to go down the affordable Debt plan route?
  3. Get your monthly costs down to an absolute minimum, what do you absolutely need?
  4. Decide what do you want to do with your life… if money were no object what would you do?
  5. Write a plan (Write / handwrite) an idyllic day
  6. Build a plan to get there and how much you will be earning to support your new lifestyle
  7. Invest in you and the skills you need… Investment not cost… don’t short change yourself here
  8. Surround yourself with like minded, positive people
  9. Go do it… massive action

Escaping from the debt driven society and taking control of our own lives many would say is the difficult path. A short period of maybe 1 or 2 years to be able to do what you want with low stress and pressure and be happy for the rest of your life… that seems like a much easier path than a life on the treadmill at someone else’s ‘beck and call’ to possibly have a few years of retirement without the health to really enjoy it! … happiness for the rest of your life? … I’m in, where do I sign up? … what about you? … time to start making those changes in your life!


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