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Becoming (Really) Debt-Free
Personal debt continues to be a major problem plaguing people in many developed countries around the world, as people find it increasingly difficult to repay debt and interest on borrowed money. Conventional wisdom, traditional financial planners, the media, and often our families tell us that it will take determination, good record-keeping, and self-discipline to become debt-free. Sure to become debt free in the beginning, perhaps these qualities, alone, can go a long way. However, they are not actually enough for those who want to stay debt free in the long term. That’s another story.
Becoming debt free does not mean staying debt free
Without context (background), the day-to-day effort required to stay debt-free fades away over time. Eventually, and perhaps gradually, many families and individuals who have worked hard to stay out of debt lose their resolve. The use of credit begins and debt returns to their lives. At some point, they may find themselves back where they started, like those on yo-yo diets.
Why? What happened?
Persistent and all manner of media manipulation targets every emotional hook they can possibly get to get us to buy, buy, buy and “keep up with the Joneses”. In the constantly encroaching commercial world, we still have powerful tools and defenses that virtually no one can take away.
The secret ingredient to long-term debt-free living
The secret ingredient? knowledge. Knowledge is power. A fully informed thought process about money and wealth is important. It provides the constant motivation we all need to do whatever it takes to stay debt free. Such knowledge exists today in easy-to-understand language for anyone who seeks it.
The missing twins about money and wealth
The Reader Digest version is as follows. Money is actually a debt instrument. 95% of them are initially issued by a central bank somewhere in the world when they BORROW them (the Federal Reserve NOTE written on the back of the US dollar). It has to be paid back with interest, so there is never enough money in the world to pay off the debt. Think: Child’s play, musical chairs. Interest compounds over time. Business owners add the cost of the money they borrow (debt service) to the cost of their goods and services that we all buy. As a result, over time each country’s central bank money loses value and people lose purchasing power (buying less with more). What was bought in the United States in 1913 now costs over $21.00. You can confirm this fact on any online inflation calculator.
Wealth: We were taught that wealth is primarily money. However, the most prestigious English dictionary, The Oxford English Dictionary, defines wealth with material abundance as the third and last definition, while personal and spiritual well-being is the first.
Wealth (Oxford English Dictionary)
1. Condition of happiness and prosperity; well-being. 2. Spiritual well-being. 3. Prosperity, which consists of an abundance of possessions; “worldly goods,” valuable possessions, especially in great abundance: riches, riches.
Independent research on this topic is time well spent. Eyes wide open about how money really works changes the way we look at wealth. We are able to recognize the value of placing personal and spiritual well-being as the first meaning of wealth. Money eventually loses its value as a debt instrument and is a profit product of a private central banking system. No everyday person has control over that. However, we as individuals have the power to break out of the social convention that wealth is primarily money and what it can buy.
Otherwise, you can expect some combination of commerce, media, family, and peers to shape your thinking and financial habits according to the conventional model. It also happens to those who once achieved debt-free status. On one hand, we’re told to get out of debt and live within our means, but on the other hand, the store seduces us in every emotional way imaginable to use your good credit.
The value of an intangible financial foundation
When we base our financial foundation on intangible personal and spiritual well-being, something amazing happens. It redefines success. Unbridled enthusiasm for accumulating things loses momentum. Through the lens of prosperity, material wealth takes on a new dimension. If you think that buying a new home, wardrobe, furniture, vacation, etc. increased your stress, you know without a doubt that it was not the right time to buy.
Your expanded view
An expanded view of money and wealth is a portal through which new insights will continue to flow. For example: Who would have thought that the financial/banking industry, the biggest educators of “consumers” about money and finance, would withhold key information about how money works? As a result, with additional information, people continue to borrow and spend in ways they would not otherwise. But since over 70% of the US economy is based on consumer spending, well… systemic self-preservation trumps full disclosure.
You may be alone, but you are not alone
People all over the world who are “in the know” are using practical tactics, some traditional and some unconventional, to get out and stay out of debt. But, as always, the challenge of any minority view is to face the consensus reality and remain strong and loyal.
When you realize that all of central banking and thus our economy is based on debt, you also understand that there is much more to wealth and becoming debt free than meets the eye. Here are some additional recommendations. Some you’ve heard before, others you probably haven’t, because they reflect the whole story of money. You might want to watch a useful animated film called Money as Debt. You can find free versions online or visit their website.
1. Get out of debt. The mortgage debt is still owed.
Make the payments and hopefully eliminate the debt. Personal debt can unwittingly trap families in a regrettable matrix. Greater personal freedom is the intangible value of getting off the hamster wheel forever.
Give priority to who you pay first. Most people have several different creditors. Pay off debt in descending order; starting with those who claim the highest amount of interest and so on. This will encourage you.
2. Stop relying on credit and going into debt.
The financial industry makes money when you use credit and channel your existing debts into another interest-bearing loan, so you won’t be dissuaded from doing so. Cut up your credit cards. The availability of credit fosters an instant gratification mentality. If that’s too radical for you, keep one card and place it in the freezer in water. This will give you pause while it melts before acting impulsively.
3. Live below your means.
Compare your earnings to what you spend each month. Write it down. Then do whatever it takes to make more money come in than go out. Committing to living below your means creates a process: you may need to lower your shopping expectations and your current lifestyle, spend less, buy in bulk and second-hand, etc. This tactic alone can ensure peace.
4. Create an emergency fund.
Put money you can scrape together from living below your means into short-term savings funds for car maintenance, home projects and repairs, and general emergencies so you don’t have to rely on credit. Also, keep a useful amount of cash on hand so that you are not completely dependent on banking institutions, especially during difficult times. Remember 1929 and Argentina 2001.
5. Develop a cash flow engine.
Create one or more cash flow engines. In these uncertain economic times, it is very helpful to have an independent income. Learn how to lead your financial life forward without thinking that you will have to go back to credit. When researching such a job, consider the goods and services people would pay for in good times and bad. Those on fixed incomes are not immune to the exponentially rising cost of living, which will require additional financial resources if they are to avoid the credit trap.
6. Grow your own food.
Growing your own food takes less space than you think. Ensure the safety of your food, eat plenty and share food with your neighbors. Or support local farmers through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) organizations.
7. Consider an alternative currency system.
An alternative currency provides access to the second-tier economy and increases your purchasing power. Search online to find a deal in your area.
8. See your life as a glass half full.
Remember to count your blessings. Victims are not empowered to take action. Turning off the TV really helps because mainstream media forces you to believe that “more is better”.
9. Don’t wait to get started.
Time is of the essence. In a debt-based monetary system, money is always worth the most today, not tomorrow. With each passing day, money will be worth less as inflation reduces its value; including nest eggs. The sooner the better for you and your family.
Below are three strategies that incorporate the specific tactics mentioned above.
1. Create a stable foundation in the present. Traditional personal finance strategies often become counterproductive because they overlook an essential risk factor; how money works within the monetary system. As in health problems; without knowing the cause of the symptoms, treatment is often not fully effective. The ability to consistently build wealth and make informed decisions over time increases with personal balance. Learning how to create and maintain a stable financial foundation in the present and why it’s critical leads to the personal prosperity needed to make good decisions for future security.
2. Take advantage of the value of money today. Since a debt-based currency is always worth the most today, not at some point in the future, it makes sense to learn about and use every possible tactic to increase the value of money today. The goal is to pay the least amount possible for the most value by buying in bulk, managing your spending, living simply, etc. Tomorrow there is usually only one thing: either the prices will go up or you will get less money for the same amount.
3. Consider People-to-People™ investing. The common retirement model was to create a “nest” combined with a pension and Social Security. But with pensions evaporating and rising living costs reducing earnings, millions of people are having to rethink their retirement if they don’t want to see it through.
The risks to money passively parked in traditional interest-bearing pension products are insufficiently considered. One is that when converting a 401(k), IRA, etc. you lose the purchasing power of the money you once had. After paying conversion fees and any taxes, the proceeds are often less than the amount you planned and need in the future.
People-to-People™ investing is about capitalizing on worthy people, projects and successful small businesses capable of financial success and adding value to the community. Such an investment, made responsibly, provides additional cash flow in line with the goal of reducing dependence on credit and outpacing the rising cost of living.
Good news? You absolutely can become and stay debt free for the long term. Perhaps the bad news is that most people need to take some time to get the bigger picture of money and wealth.
After all, there is a war going on to control how we think about money and wealth. To this day, the “little individual” is losing the battle. In a debt-based world, commerce is completely dependent on the use of credit and debt leverage to achieve financial success. While you can certainly become debt-free through self-discipline alone, like a fish swimming upstream, the long-term odds are stacked against you.
Long-term debt-free living, personal freedom and peace of mind are available to those who choose to be fully informed. The choice is yours.
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