Well, I’m pleased that you stopped to read this since there is so many “get out of debt” articles, blog posts, and books on the market today. In fact, getting out of debt has become a big business that is making some authors and gurus and TV/Radio hosts very rich.
I think it is because “getting out of debt” is about as ubiquitous as “losing weight”—Almost everyone is thinking about getting started on it some day.
I bet you’ve read your share of articles and books on it too. Maybe you’ve even been to a seminar or lecture where someone preached at you about and even fired you up for a few days or, if you are really determined, a few weeks.
I get to talk to you guys how much debt I have. Show of hands—how many of you have debt? Wow. Really? Man, sorry, I didn’t think you’d actually admit it. Sucks to be us. I’m sorry. No seriously… Good work? It’s always uncomfortable deciding what to say at this point.
Debt is the gift that keeps on giving month after month.
Ahh…. Basking in the glow of long-term regret.
Whenever I speak in front of groups, I can pretty much wager a fifteen-thousand-dollar credit line that I’m the one who’s accumulated the most debt out of everyone in the room… Always an honor… Yeah, that’s kind of like failing every single class in high school, but getting the spirit award for showing up at graduation anyway.
Through business and real estate investments, along with regular old consumer debt, I managed to get in real deep to the tune of 2.2 Million dollars by the age of 30 years old.
So to put this into perspective… If you spent your 20’s drinking beer, smoking dope, and playing video games and you managed to accumulate maybe $17 to your name, you would’ve been just a hair under $2.2 million richer than me.
By the end of my little story today, I am going to show you how I turned my life around and eliminated a few million of it and how you can turn your life around too if you choose.
You know what’s scary about credit? Our culture has become saturated with it!
“Now for a small fee and a monthly payment with interest, you can have everything you ever hoped and dreamed of right now.”
“You need debt to build your credit!”
“…Why do I need credit?”
“So you can get into debt!”
“Your ‘I Love Debt Score’—I mean your FICO score —is very important to becoming financially dependent… I mean independent.”
“Oh come on, everybody’s doing it! 2 or 3 credit cards never hurt anybody.”
…And we fall for it!
What’s hard about credit is that it is being pushed on us all the time from every angle. It’s hard because of how well it is advertised.
Typical Advertisement: “Congratulations! You’re pre-approved for our ultimate platinum inner circle airline travel club prestigious royal members elite gold card with a limited time 0% APR for Very special people that we know statistically will be paying us the rest of their lives!”
Me: “That does sound fancy. I do deserve a little royal treatment. I’m sure I’ll just pay it off every month… Except for just this first month, because I have some important things to invest in… Black Friday and all.”
…and it’s everywhere!
Typical Salesperson: “Would you like to apply for our loyalty rewards Visa card? The application only takes a minute or two. It’s really a great deal and you get discounts every time you’re here.”
Me: “Uh… I’m just here for the funeral service.”
In 2005 I opened an expensive gym. It took everything we had and then some. The equipment was $500,000 and the rent was $13,000 per month before utilities and CAM charges and various fees, insurance, and taxes.
I had a background of being an employee of gyms, but I thought my knowledge of the industry along with my smaller entrepreneurial endeavors was all I needed to know. Perhaps I was right, but it didn’t matter.
After lots of planning, approximately seven years of it, I got together a few partners, including one of my employers, and finally quit my job working as a manager of a theater production (and 3 or 4 other odd jobs and being a personal trainer).
My wife and I had a dream of something better. It was the American dream. Contribute in a big way and work really hard and then reap the benefits of a far better lifestyle. I still believe in that dream, but how that dream is achieved is the real question.
You might be wondering how a small-time guy with no money pulled off this rather large investment? We leveraged using debt… Lots of it…
Many people are under the false understanding that debt is something a person can easily free themselves from if they are somehow really smart or use some tricky legal entity as a corporate veil or business mechanism for discharging themselves of obligations.
They think that business and personal debt are separate, or they think that you can always file bankruptcy, so it is no big deal.
Well, maybe an accountant will tell you that there are differences and that it is technically all true.
…But in reality, it all stinks to high heaven.
The truth is that everyone who gives you money, no matter how much, and no matter for how long, always wants to get it back… With interest.
After all, they are only doing it to make money. Unless it’s your grandma… But why would you ever dream of borrowing any sum of money, much less a large sum of money from your grandma? Poor old lady. Her grandchild taking advantage like that! You should be ashamed of yourself. Yeah, I know you plan on paying it back, but can we get real for a minute?
Let’s just acknowledge the fact that it is going to make for some very uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinners.
The reality is that you have to sign everything with your own John Hancock. Every bank and loan shark wants a Personal Guarantee. That means if the poopoo hits the fan YOU are on the hook.
The business can go bankrupt, and they will want to come after somebody, and that somebody is YOU.
So we had accumulated not just bank loans, but also home equity lines of credit, and lived off of personal credit cards to make ends meet.
We went all in! We bet the house.
We knew we would be successful and we thought of it as a sure thing! After all, it was 2005 and nobody, save for one of my friends who tried to warn me, knew that the crash was coming.
As an aside, isn’t it interesting that in all major life decisions there is always a still small voice that comes from somewhere telling you not to do the big dumb thing you are about to do?
Yeah, it’s usually right, but I typically ignore that pesky dude. Onward and upward!
What’s scary about being in debt is how much interest you pay over the long haul.
“Gee honey look! I did the math and we only have to pay $2,347 over the next few years, and we’ll own, free and clear… our very own toaster oven!”
What’s weird about being in debt is that we never deliberately mean to get in it. It requires us to act in self-delusion.
Me: “Well, golly gee, I can just buy this on credit? It’s like I didn’t have to spend any money at all!
Devil on my shoulder: “Don’t worry about it, you can just pay off that balance next month when we’re rolling in dough.”
Me: “Mr. Devil, you haven’t chimed in since my road rage incident last week! How are you?”
Angel on my other: “Don’t do it! The rich ruleth over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender!”
Me: “Oh look it’s little angel! You’re like a cute floating cherub on my shoulder. Do you have one of those miniature bow and arrows like Cupid? Oh, we totally need to get you one… I’ll just get another credit card and we’ll put it on that.”
You know what’s stupid about credit cards? How we think we are being really financially savvy because we work the system for points and mileage. We are playing with snakes!
“Yeah I’d like to use my airline miles…”
“Ok sir, where do you want to go?”
“Yeah, I’d like to book a flight to Hawaii.”
“What so funny?”
“Sorry sir, but you don’t have nearly enough miles to do that.”
“Uh, so how many miles do I need?”
“You’ll need to charge another $25,000 or so to your card in the next month, or you’ll lose this year’s mileage points and have to make an additional fee exchange purchase for about $5,000 to get them to roll over.”
“Ok uh where can I go?”
“Albuquerque might work.”
“Well, do they have vacation spots?”
“Oh sorry sir, you can only book those miles on non-black out, non-holiday, non-weekend, non-peak hour, delayed, overflow, non-luggage, non-passenger flights.”
“So is there anything I can do?”
“Well, sir If you want to be a real man, perhaps you’d be interested in our preferred partners upgrade gold card so you can earn triple points instead! There’s only a $250 annual fee to start and we’ll gladly bonus you a free 12 hour time share presentation at the worst hotel in Las Vegas in August without air conditioning.”
Now there are different kinds of debt…
At least there are different reasons you might choose to get into debt. You can just be a normal American and rack up the consumer kind using credit cards and payday loans and rent your furniture and get a couch repossessed, or you can get into debt as a small business owner and live the real American Dream.
“Our bank supports hard-working entrepreneurs like you. This country was built on the backs of small businesses and if you want to do something of patriotic significance you’ll need to take out a loan with us.”
“But I thought 99% of all traditional businesses fail, so why…”
“Well, yeah, but that could take years and you will be paying a lot of taxes in the meantime to support your local community… And don’t worry about us, we’ll just take your home when you fail.”
To make matters worse, we got into everything at the peak of the market right before the real estate crash.
I had trouble with a partner and we had a bad breakup and I lost all control and equity in my business.
I was left with all the liabilities, but none of the assets–all of the debts, but none of the equity, and all the hard feelings, but none of the cash.
My partners declared bankruptcy and ran. I spent a better part of a year in court and in depression.
You know what’s stupid about business debt in particular?
At least with normal consumer debt you get to have all the fun and trinkets that give you temporary material pleasures!
Most regular Americans just rack up the credit cards and have a blast and then file bankruptcy… And later they might enjoy a bailout paid for by the taxpayers.
With small business debt, however, you get an entire decade of lost hopes and dreams.
“So let’s see, would you like to take a cruise around the world for a year, buy a Lamborghini, and have a wild shopping spree to Best Buy every day for a month…
‘Or would your prefer to have all the same debt and just sit in a cold unfinished foreclosed house filling out endless paperwork for the IRS?”
“Hmmmm…. That paperwork in a cold empty house sounds pretty nice. Do I get extra airline miles with that?”
And then I got serious about the AdvoCare Debt Buster System and changed my paradigm.
No, this is not some big long strategic pitch for that system… but it does work. There are other good systems out there. I went through all of Dave Ramsey’s books and listened to his radio show every day for a year. I just like the AdvoCare Debt Buster system because it is free to distributors (I am one), and it is the same stuff, just a lot simpler. Nothing against all the guru’s out there, but this was what made the most sense to me.
We started over and worked like crazy to make extra income and get rid of the liabilities.
We planned our work and worked our plan.
We had to short sell a few properties.
We negotiated with every creditor we could.
We got on a budget and kept reviewing and revising.
We had a giant yard sale and kept on getting rid of everything.
I worked extra jobs and made a great deal of progress in our AdvoCare business too (our side business that provides a solid “Plan B” income or safety net that everyone should have in today’s economy).
We created a debt reducing snowball and used momentum money to eradicate as much debt as we could.
From 2.2 Million, we now have less than $200,000, and we plan on being debt free in a few short years.
We’re not perfect. We still make mistakes. We are human after all.
Consumerism and getting into debt is a lot like our relationship with our health.
Sitting in front of the tv…
“I haven’t eaten in an hour… That extra large order of fries looks so good.”
15 minutes later…
“I haven’t bought anything in an hour… That home entertainment system no interest for 90 days looks so good.”
Just as an Herbal Cleanse can be the first step to kickstart your health, the debt buster system can kickstart your finances. Just don’t let the program sit, or it gets really thick and becomes hard to swallow. It’s more of a shooter, not a sipper.
Devil: “Now get back out there and buy more of that yummy stuff!”
Me: “Well, I wouldn’t have to if you hadn’t consumed it all. Angel, aren’t you going to try to talk me out of it?”
Angel: “Like you ever listen to me anyway… Next time, the least you could do is save me some fries.”
6 Keys To Eliminating Debt For People That Already Know What To Do But Never Do It.
The reason that these short tips are saved for the end of this story is that I found that it would not be effective just to give you these tips without context. The only way they worked for me is to digest them along with the life lessons and stories. That is how they get their flavor and become potent enough to either burn your tongue or go down sweet as honey. As you think about your own life experiences and failures, here are some tips to keep in mind along the way:
- You should start some kind of business venture to create more income, but you don’t need to go into massive debt to start a business—that’s just a lie.
- Get on the Debtbuster plan, or some kind of a solid plan.
- If you fall off the wagon, just get up, brush yourself off, and get back on.
- Try to help other people do the same because it also reinforces your own good behavior.
- Remember… It’s OK to want things. It’s OK to own things. Just don’t let those things own you.
- If you do decide to splurge… Try not to supersize it. Because that kind of fat can take a decade to burn off.