Reclaim your freedom and enjoy your life. Unburden yourself from the debt that is holding you back from becoming the very best you can be. No man can be truly independent, strong and free if he is beholden to another through the shackles of financial obligation. Read Michael Mihalik’s fine book “Debt is Slavery” and change how you think about money and debt.
Through his own experience with excessive debt and the burden it creates, the author submits a list of ten lessons that will set you on the path to financial freedom. This is a quick read free from bloat that gets right to the point. It is a book that should be read several times and internalized as a baseline for your financial life. Learn it, live it and set yourself free.
I will discuss the author’s lessons through the prism of what we are all about here at Becoming a Force of Nature, mixing in my own philosophy as needed.
Lesson #1: Debt is Slavery
If you have to go to work every morning because of money that you owe to others then you are in effect a slave to that debt. This is a harsh statement, but there is no way around it: money is controlling your life.
You must come to realize that money is your master and others have power over you.
This is no way for a man to live.
It is one thing to go to work to be a productive member of society and to provide for yourself and your family. It is another to have to work just to survive and pay your bills. Especially if it is at a job you do not enjoy or for an employer you do not like.
As a man striving for personal excellence you must realize it is time to turn the tables and become the master of your money.
Take responsibility. You put yourself into this situation and you will be the one to get yourself out. The sooner you get started the better, it is never too late.
The first step is to change your thinking about money, debt and possessions. Read on and get started.
Lesson #2: Money is Time
According to some estimates the average American household contains 300,000 objects. Let’s assume for argument’s sake the average retail cost to replace each object today is $1 – a reasonable assumption I believe. Let’s also assume you earn a salary of 50K per year and net 40K after taxes.
Ask yourself if you would work the next 7.5 years to purchase all of your household possessions all over again. As a salaried man, this in fact what you have done. You have traded your time for the money to purchase those thousands of objects. And don’t kid yourself; they are just objects and nothing more.
Now certainly some percentage of those possessions would be worth purchasing to furnish your home and clothe your family. Let’s say that perhaps 33% of them were modest and necessary. So you worked 2 and a half years of your life to do so. Was the other 5 years of labor worth it?
This is the question you have to ask yourself before each purchase because you are in effect trading your life for possessions.
Ask yourself another question. What if the earnings from those extra 5 years of labor were instead saved and invested? How much peace of mind and freedom would that purchase? How tall and confident would you walk around at work every day knowing you could survive for 5 years or more on your savings if you lost your job?
Never forget it: money is time. Spend it wisely; your life is on the line.
Lesson #3: Possessions are a Prison
Experience, accomplish and achieve, don’t accumulate.
It is my belief that experiences, accomplishments and achievements are what really make for quality of life on this earth. In your last days these are the things that you will remember and be most proud of.
There is nothing wrong with accumulating a few nice things. Material possessions can certainly add to a man’s quality of life. But do not possess material things at the expense of experience and achievement.
Accumulating material possessions in excess will become a prison.
Possessions cost money to purchase, store and maintain. And as we learned above, money is time and there is only so much time in a man’s life. It is the major bottleneck to experience and achievement.
The time you spend paying for, storing and maintaining material objects will limit your freedom. Your possessions are keeping you away from meaningful experience and accomplishment as you work to pay for them.
Anything that places limits on your freedom is a form of prison. Thus, possessions are a prison.
Lesson #4: Beware of the Giant Marketing Machine
The Giant Marketing Machine (GMM) is the advertising industry. It is insidious in our lives and relentless in its pursuit to separate us from our money. Advertising agencies are paid a fortune to do their work and they have become very successful at it.
Everywhere you turn you there is finely crafted media messaging designed to shape your thinking and convince you of the necessity to spend money on products and services.
Most of the messaging is related to the acquisition of status and they have succeeded greatly in their efforts.
Western society has become obsessed with the acquisition of status – the type of status that can be obtained through the purchase of material possessions and services. You know what they are: homes, automobiles, fashion, media, recreation, dining, etc.
Intertwined with these products is the sale of credit so that we may more easily attain the status so aggressively marketed to us.
Yes, even the loaning of money is constantly being sold as a normal and needed product for modern civilized living. Think about that. There are businesses (banks) that sell money for more money. Don’t kid yourself, every time you walk into your bank they’re working you over for the next sale.
Become aware of this campaign to separate you from your hard earned income. Remember to remain modest and controlled in your expenditures.
Maintain mastery over your income and do not let the GMM play you like a fiddle.
Lesson #5: Money Buys Freedom
I must say, this by far my favorite lesson.
Can money buy happiness through the purchase of material things? No, not really.
Sure having a nice home and a nice car can add some level of enjoyment and satisfaction to your life, but not if they are keeping you in debt and a slave to your employer. Not if the stress from work and debt over the long term is affecting your health and making you unhappy.
Real and lasting happiness comes from freedom, choices and opportunity. This is how money can buy happiness; it can purchase your freedom.
If you can control your expenses through Spartan Minimalism and maximize your savings, the world will open up for you. A man with a year’s living expenses or more in the bank is a man who walks tall.
He is a man who is unafraid in today’s cut throat world of business; for he knows that he has the financial resources to survive for an extended period of time without any salary based income. This is how a man should live his life – unafraid and in control.
He is also a man who can consider starting his own business or taking less pay for work that is more satisfying and interesting to him. He is a man who can leave his job if needed and take his time to look for new employment. This is choice, this is opportunity.
No matter your level of income, consistent savings and investment over time will provide the financial resources necessary for freedom, opportunity and peace of mind. This is a reality available to every man who decides to live below his means with a plan and purpose.
Live your life as a Force of Nature. Earn your freedom through financial discipline and prudence.
Go hardcore and take the steps necessary to truly be a free man. Do not live your life as a slave to debt and possessions.
All the best,