By Jason Cabler, Crosswalk.com
In the pages of this blog I almost always advocate that having more is always better. More money, more out of your career, more from your relationships, and more from life in general are all good things.
But since this is a blog that’s primarily focused on getting out of debt and living a debt-free lifestyle, there is obviously one thing I don’t recommend having more of, and that’s debt.
In this article, I’ll show you 6 reasons why debt will seriously limit your life and your destiny.
Debt Means Risk
There are some people who believe debt can be a blessing because it can allow you to invest into something that increases in value, such as a house or a business. They use the term “leverage” and “other people’s money,” by which you use a small amount of your own money, along with debt, to achieve a larger financial result.
They do have a valid point. Many people use debt on a daily basis to invest in real estate, equipment for their business, and other things that can actually produce an income over and above what the loan will cost them in interest payments (if it works out according to plans).
But along with that debt comes risk. Even when you use debt to invest in an income producing venture, the more debt you use, the more risk you encounter.
Consumer Debt is Even Worse
However, it’s much worse when you have debt that isn’t tied to an item that makes money for you. Specifically I’m talking about consumer debt, which is a completely different level of risk, and can be seriously detrimental to your life.
Consumer debt is the kind of debt you have for things like cars, TVs, vacations, restaurant food, clothes, and so forth - stuff that goes down in value or is used up very quickly, leaving you with a pile of bills and little or nothing to show for it.
Falling Prey to Marketing Hype
Why do people take out credit card and other consumer debt to buy these things that go down in value or get completely used up? It’s because we’ve been taught to believe the philosophy that “more is better.”
Too many of us have fallen prey to the marketing hype that’s thrown in our faces every single day. We’ve been led to believe that we need a brand new car, the latest gadget that’s out of date within a year, and luxury brands not only to feel successful, but just to live a normal life and keep up with our friends.
But at some point you have to realize that more is not always better.
Debt = Bondage = Problems
I don’t have a problem with nice things. I believe if you can afford to pay cash for nice things, there is nothing wrong with having them (within reason). But when you pursue the accumulation of stuff to the point that you’re spending money you don’t have, and going into the bondage of debt just to have those things, then you open yourself up to a number of problems.
The funny thing is, nobody talks about some of the less obvious problems that come with consumer debt, and these are the kinds of problems that can hurt your life in the biggest way if you don’t recognize them.
Debt, especially consumer debt, is a form of bondage that limits your freedom, and ultimately keeps you from living your best life.
Let’s take a look at why that’s so.
6 Ways Debt Limits Your Life and Destiny
Debt is a limiting force that causes you to live your life in such a way that your ability to pay your debt is a major consideration in every life decision you make. It’s a force that can negatively affect every single aspect of your life, and the deeper in debt you are, the larger effect it has, even to the point that it limits your ultimate destiny in life without you even realizing it.
Don’t believe me?
Let’s consider some of the consequences that debt can have on your life:
1. Debt Limits Your Career Choices
I can’t tell you how many people I talk to that hate their job, but don’t feel like they can make a change because the job they have pays well and keeps them from getting behind on their debt payments. They’d rather be doing “x” or “y” that suits them much better, or they want to start their own business doing what they love, but their debt is a huge obstacle that keeps them right where they are, because that job pays the bills.
2. Debt Keeps You From Being As Generous
If you’re committed to hundreds or thousands of dollars of debt payments every month, you can’t use that money to do what God calls us to do financially, which means feeding people, giving to the poor, providing for the church, etc. The less seed you have to sow, the less harvest you can reap.
3. Debt Limits Your Future
How many people do you know who can’t retire or even cut back on their workload as they get older? I get emails every week from people in that situation, and the ultimate cause usually comes down to long term debt that they never seem to get rid of. They’ve spent decades feeding their debt and lifestyle instead of their retirement funds. Then they reach their 50’s or 60’s and realize they have literally wasted their future on restaurant food, car payments, and junk they didn’t need.
4. Debt Can Affect Your Spiritual Life
Too much debt can inhibit your relationship with God. I’ve already mentioned that it limits your ability to be generous, which is very important spiritually. Debt can also limit your relationship with God because you have to work more hours and more days to fee the debt beast. You may have to work on Sundays instead of going to worship services. You have less time to devote to spiritual development, volunteering, and other spiritual pursuits. Debt will cause you to have to work more and develop your spirit less.
5. Debt Can Hurt Your Health
We all know the problems that stress can bring upon your health. Having large amounts of debt is stressful, and over time the results of that stress show up in high blood pressure, heart problems, depression, anxiety, and many other issues.
6. Debt Can Hurt Your Family Relationships
We’ve been told repeatedly over the years that debt and financial issues are one of the biggest causes of divorce. It also has an effect on your kids when they don’t see Mom or Dad enough because they have to work so much to keep the debt train rolling. Debt is bad for families, period.
Debt: Less is More, None is Best
Listen, it’s easy to fall victim to the debt trap, especially here in the U.S. where we’re bombarded with over 3,000 marketing messages every day, and so many financial gurus teach more about managing debt than they do about getting rid of it (that’s kind of like managing a wildfire instead of putting it out completely).
When it comes down to it, you have to decide what kind of life you want to live. Once you realize that when it comes to debt, less is more, and none is best, then you can start changing your life for good.
This article is adapted from one which originally ran on Celebrating Financial Freedom. Used with permission.
Dr. Jason Cabler is a Christian personal finance blogger, author, and speaker. He teaches how to get out of debt and live a debt free lifestyle through his Celebrating Financial Freedom blog and self study course. His book How to Budget: The Quick and Easy Guide to Making a Budget That Works is now available. He can be reached for interviews or speaking engagements by email, and can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Google +.
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