Debt Zero

The benefits outweigh the costs (pun intended).

Having spent close to a decade in perpetual debt to creditors, I can’t relay to you how overwhelming it is to finally be free from the stress and out from under the shadow. The fact is, I’d become too comfortable and complacent with the idea of being in-debt to achieve what I wanted in life.

I wanted it all. I wanted the shiny car, the big house, all of my friends to be able to depend on me, and the kind of globetrotting lifestyle that really only the luckiest few of us ever really achieve. While none of these by themselves is problematic, in combination it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

But years ago, I had a revelation while I was at a low-point in my financial and mental health where I was brought eye-to-eye with an inescapable truth: that I had been duped, and so had everyone else. “The American Dream” is no dream of mine. It was invented by those with means and power as a means to subjugate and control those without either. The proof is plain to see:

  • Get the job
  • Buy the car
  • Get the food
  • Marry the woman
  • Have the kids
  • Work til you’re 65
  • Waste your life
  • Die with “dignity”

The white-picket-fence, big house, and two-and-a-half kids nightmare. The more that I thought about it, the more it repulsed me. Even now, I can recall with disgust just how much weight I had given that “dream” and how far I was willing to go to chase it. What didn’t occur to me before then but became plain-as-day to me after the sleight-of-hand had been revealed was this: that dream comes with a tremendous cost.

It destroys people before they even get a chance to see anything new or explore the world, to truly see with eyes unclouded by preconceived notions. Life isn’t meant to be spent in perpetual debt, but that’s what this dream would have meant for me. The mortgage, the never-ending car and credit card payments, the cost of raising kids, college–all of it.

After hitting that point, I made a solemn vow to pay off all of my debts (both public and private), and to give myself the opportunity to live without any anchors. Today, I reached that goal and today I get to begin the journeys that I had promised to myself all those years ago. I get to live without fear–and hopefully with a lot more attention paid to growth opportunities and experiences that would have been kept from me had I been preoccupied with my own problems.

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