A financial message to 20 somethings – please avoid my mistake

debt

Tonight I want to take a little time to share with you what I think is the single greatest threat to our economy, and how to prevent it.  That threat is debt burdens being carried by college students and 20-somethings.  The way to prevent it is simple – twentysomething need to become minimalists in a hurry.

When I was 20, I made the mistake of getting several credit cards.  I was foolish, young and feeling immortal.  Then I met a couple of women who would go on to break my heart.  Rather than focus on myself and my life, I wallowed in self pity and medicated by buying things, calling friends with my credit cards, and essential running up debts I couldn’t hope to repay. Add to that my stupidity with never paying off my student loans, letting the interest pile up on them, and running from everything, I have created an impossible situation for myself.  This is compounded by medical issues and a lack of a college degree, along with the fact I simply stopped caring enough to try to save myself from this quicksand.  

What I suggest to college students and 20 somethings in general is simple – learn to live without.  Don’t try to do anything you cannot afford.  There are few things in this world worth going into debt for anymore.  Education certainly isn’t one of them (sorry, high ed folks, but y’all are entirely overpriced!), nor is a flashy car, or impressing some lady or man you have a thing for.  Your friends should understand and, if they don’t, they don’t deserve the person you are.  The heart is what matters, not the wallet – contrary to what Social Darwinists, Junior Leaguers, and elitists would have you believe.

I will admit something painful to everyone – I am going to be 40 years old, and over $100,000 in debt with little hope of freeing myself of this bondage.  Much of this is student loans; completely unforgivable in bankruptcy court and an industry which the government is part and parcel in a cartel league with.  That said, I am not bitter, nor I wish to receive any help – my labors will be my salvation.  I have accepted my fate long ago; either I will be a wild success on my own and pay off my debts by my own sweat, blood or creativity, or I will die a penniless, broken man.  

But I digress.

My prayer is that my foolishness serves a testimonial to error, and provides the sort of warning flag young folks need to help revitalize our economy through debt avoidance and true economic independence.  All I ask is that whoever reads this sees my folly, understands what is at stake at that delicate age, and avoid my errors.  I have chosen to be a minimalist and, while I pray that my writing will be my financial salvation, I have chosen to be content with a life of difficult, painful labor – the karmic debt I must pay to atone for the sins of my past.

My life has become devoted to being a good husband, a good father, and trying to simply keep my family above water – the rest doesn’t matter because, honestly, no billionaire gives a flip about someone like me.  Even if someone offered me the means with which to pull out of this, I’m not sure I could accept it because it would feel like a handout, and not validation of my own abilities.  Yes, pride is an ugly, evil thing.

If even one person is influenced to not buy that unaffordable car, take on that credit card, or sign off on that student loan, then my life will truly have meaning aside from my novels.

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