“Debt ladies and gentlemen, is cancer” is what my friend Dave said at a personal finance seminar I spoke at several years ago. Dave is an extremely successful businessman, an expert problem solver, and one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met. He’s also a cancer survivor who was expected to be dead 7 years ago but has continually defied experts and even himself. When Dave invited me to be a speaker I was surprised because there’s nothing I could say that he couldn’t, but he later joked, “You’ll be there just in case I drop dead the day before.”
After the seminar was over, dozens of people rushed over to Dave expressing their gratitude for a renewed motivation to eliminate debt in their lives. One man in particular said that eliminating his credit card debt was harder than curbing a drug addiction!
America desperately needs to rethink how we perceive and use debt. It’s a serious problem that’s only going to get worse. Debt, is economic slavery, no matter who it’s owed to and how much. If you don’t pay it there’s little you can do to escape it. A very wise and successful man named Joseph Worthlin once said, “Remember this: debt is a form of bondage. It is a financial termite. When we make purchases on credit, they give us only an illusion of prosperity. We think we own things, but the reality is, our things own us.”
Anyone that’s struggled to pay off debt knows this all too well. It’s important to understand that when you’re buying that $6 coffee from Starbucks on your card you’re not paying $6 to the credit card company, you’re going to pay $10. Interest my friends, is the parasite from hell. J Reuben Clark, professor at Georgetown and Undersecretary of State to President Calvin Coolidge said, “Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation. Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.”
There are plenty of resources available to help but unfortunately no magic or easy solution. Anyone that promises otherwise is lying. I think it’s funny….when you buy a pack of cigarettes there’s fat label on it that basically says, “Smoke enough of these and you WILL get cancer.” When you skydive there’s a form that you sign that says, “Because your jumping out of a perfectly good airplane thousands of feet above ground we’re not liable for damages in the slim event your parachute doesn’t open.” Maybe we should start putting similar warnings on credit card purchases like, “Swipe to pay twice the amount for this purchase and by the way we now own you.”