Sports cars, speed boats, off-road vehicles, houses, motorcycles, and various other toys came and went in my past life. I had a good job, a big house with a mortgage, several cars, a fancy watch and money left over. Money flowed so freely and easily, I had trouble finding dumb things to spend it on, like a supercharger on my suburban and I was serious about an airplane at one point.
I had everything I ever wanted and I was doing it all the way we are all taught to do things.
None of it was truly mine, and I was miserable.
So I did the only sensible thing: lost it all and found myself destitute.
What we Learn
There are plenty of benefits to having lots of money. It definitely allows you to do things you can’t do without it. But the standard way of dealing with money in our culture gets twisted if you aren’t paying attention. Just because I had a lot of “stuff” doesn’t mean I could afford it. Don’t make the mistake of wondering how someone can afford that shiny Mercedes rolling past you on the street. In many cases, they can’t.
I made many mistakes that weren’t the most fiscally-sound, and most involved the same problem that so many people face: Debt.
We are taught to go to school, get good grades, so we can get into college, where we get a degree so we can get a good job. Then we get to buy a house, cars and all the other stuff that comes with this form of success. The problem with much of that is the debt.
Student loans, car loans, home mortgage, credit cards to buy all the stuff you need to fill that house with, and on and on. If you’ve made it this far, you’d better be sure you have a good job, because you have a lot of debt payments to make. Start missing those, and you find out who really owns all that stuff. So back to work with you, where you aren’t spending any time enjoying your mountains of stuff.
That stuff can become nothing but a tremendous burden.
A Better Way?
If you poke around on the web enough, you can find any number of people doing things differently. Whether just having a more conservative approach to living with a bit less of the usual stuff we like to collect, to consciously living with as few belongings as possible. Any number of people around the world get rid of their stuff and downsize. Whether for economic, ecological or personal reasons, more people are conscious of their finances and it’s implications lately.
Have we been taught the best way? Are the added complications, stress, and lack of time worth the pursuit of stuff? Do we really have to follow that paradigm to find happiness, or can it be reframed?
I’ve written before about my living without a car, downsizing, and other minimalist ways of living. I don’t have as much stuff as I used to by a long shot, and I love it. My life is much simpler and less stressful. I’m not tied to any spot on earth, and I can go anywhere. I don’t need to come up with X-amount of money every month just to pay for things I already bought.
I am free of debt, and refuse to get back into that form of slavery. If I don’t have the money for something, I don’t buy it. If I can’t pay for it myself, I don’t need to borrow it to do so. In almost every case, I have lived without it so far, I obviously don’t have a true need for whatever it is, anyway.
It’s hard to put a number on the kind of peace that freedom can bring. And I don’t need a supercharger for it, either.
You vs. Debt
Earlier this year, I met up with Adam Baker and his family from Man vs. Debt when they came through town on their RV tour of the U.S. Baker & Courtney found themselves in overwhelming student loan debt early in their marriage, and worked to figure a way out of that trap. I’ve talked with Baker for years as they paid off their debt, traveled to different parts of the world, then did their RV tour, so it was good to finally have a chance to sit down and pick his brain about debt, blogging and other business stuff.
He is releasing a program today called You vs. Debt. If you go check it out, it will be very obvious that he hired a professional video crew and put a ton of work into this (I want to say I saw videos as far back as March?).
He’s been putting up a bunch of samples from the program that should give you an idea if it would be helpful to you, but here are some quick bullet points from Baker:
- YvD is a 6 weeks video-based course with the goal of completely changing people’s relationship and emotions surrounding money and debt.
- 32 individual videos, shot on green screen and edited w/ support text on screen, each video contains a lesson (3-9 minutes), and quote of the day, and a daily challenge (5-30 minutes to complete).
- Videos delivered every day Monday – Friday for 6 straight weeks. Saturday is the accountability survey and Sunday is rest day.
- Each day has a worksheet (30 total) that ties into the lesson and is filled out as part of the member challenge for that specific day.
- Each member will have a public profile they can customize (they’ll be able to view and search other members) and a fully-moderated forums to get help, support, and questions answered.
I haven’t seen the whole program or purchased it, but I have been privy to a bunch of behind the scenes stuff as he’s worked on it this year. Personal finance isn’t really the main focus of this blog, but if you are struggling with a mountain of debt, it will definitely hinder your freedom to live life.
So go check out the free sample stuff to get an idea if it would be useful to you. Baker’s You vs. Debt program would be a lot easier than the way I did things, if your relationship with money is a paradigm you need to shift.