By in Debt, Wealth | 12 comments

A version of this article was published in March, 2010

A man in debt is so far a slave.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Debt, simply put, is buying something now, that you don’t have the money for! If a man or a woman is in debt, as Emerson stated, he or she cannot be free! Those of you with lots of debt already know this! (I am not talking about mortgage debt or student loans here)

The Problem with Debt

If you buy something you can’t pay for now, you are obligated to pay back the money you borrowed with interest. If you borrow $500.00 to buy an IPad, ( i.e. you pay for it with a credit card and don’t pay the bill in full at the end of the month) you are borrowing the money for that player at 18%, 28% or even more interest. As long as you go carry a credit card balance and don’t pay off the bill in full, you’re adding to the cost of the IPad. That $500.00 tablet could end up costing you hundreds of dollars more depending how long you carry a balance.

OK, you’re probably thinking, “Barb, you’re an idiot! Tell me something I don’t already know. I’ve hit every blog talking about debt reduction, and I have too much debt, there’s too much stuff I want, and it’s just too hard to get rid of it!!”

It Starts with Your Mind!

Begin by answering these 2 short questions:

1. Do you want some financial and money skills?

2. Do you want to reduce stress make your money life easier?


I was fortunate to receive excellent training and examples in money management from my family and relatives. Almost every one of my relatives started out poor; and most of them amassed a substantial amount of money throughout there lives. Their professions ranged from entrepreneurs, to real estate, to running a heating and air conditioning company, to working for the government, to teaching.

Although most of my family members went to college, and it certainly is preferable, it is not a requirement of financial control. Many trades; plumber, computer technician, HVAC technicians can gain a marketable skill from a training course and go on to amass wealth as well. Actually, in today’s difficult economy, you may be better off with a short technical course in a field with available jobs.

If you’re uncomfortable now, struggling to get out from a blanket of debt begins with the desire to live a better life.

Many of these ideas may seem simple, and that is because amassing money and living within your means is not complicated…..but, it requires DISCIPLINE. To gain financial skills and security, you have to give something up and take a small action.

Are you willing to give something up? I did not say: “What do you WANT to give up?” Obviously, most of us want it all and would prefer to get something for nothing. Unfortunately, that’s not how life works. In order to get something of value, you have to be WILLING to give something up.

 The Secret to Wealth

Here is the secret, if you saw any of my relatives in the store or at a restaurant; you would not have any idea of their financial accomplishments. You wouldn’t look at one of my relatives and say, “Oh, I know she’s loaded.” As a matter of fact, with few exceptions my immediate family and relatives look middle class. Their aspirations and mine are, “do not attempt to look rich to impress others.” As Thomas J. Stanley, PhD  says in his newest book, Stop Acting Rich…, And Start Living Like a Real Millionaire, as well as in his other studies of real life millionaires, most wealthy individuals do not fit our outside expectation of how rich people should look. That is because they have saved, invested, and budgeted their money carefully, not spent it on things they could not afford.

In order to have financial control, you have to be willing to give up, “Dressing, living, and shopping to impress others!”

Be your own judge. Don’t let TV, your neighbors, your friends’ influence how you spend. Clearly, you don’t need me to tell you this, but, you are in debt because you are spending more than you are earning!!! OK, so to get out of debt, you need to be WILLING to do something different. Take a moment or two and really think about what you are WILLING to give up.

 Action Steps:

Get a notebook and label it: “(your name) Personal Finance” and keep it by the computer. Use it to keep all of your personal finance goals, thoughts, activities, and plans.

 Change your mind!! Give up the idea that you need to impress others and overspend to look rich.

1. Make 2 columns on a paper in your personal finance notebook and write down the ADVANTAGES and DISADVANTAGES of overspending.

2. Write down 5 expenses that you can cut out or reduce immediately.

Do these 2 activities right now. It takes only 5 minutes and the results will be priceless. By writing them down, you are committed to improving your spending.

Writing and talking about goals increases the chance that you will accomplish them!

Can’t Get Enough Debt Information?

Have a debt blog and want it included on the list, email me at barbfriedberg at gmail.

What do you give up in order to build wealth?

 image credit; google images listverse


  1. I do not know if I gave up anything to build wealth! Then how did I do It? The simple answer was I made choices, but never spent more than I earned. In the very early days, a dinner at McDonald’s was a night out. As my income grew, we were able to spend more. I never felt deprived and neither did my wife. Maybe that is the key to building wealth!


    July 21, 2012

  2. The Joneses are definitely your enemy if you want to stop overspending. Find a way to ignore and to not want to keep up with them and you’ve found a good start to your journey.

  3. @Krantcents-Words of wisdom… match your wants at a level less than your income and you’ll never feel deprived.
    @Lance-More good advice, I like it; the Jones are not your friends:)


    July 22, 2012

  4. I like this very much! I see debt as pawning your labour – and it is wrong; it sound even more wrong because putting it like this one realises that debt is not aboutsimply money – it is about our life. We are almost done with debt and I am not sure what I had to give up (this probably means that I don’t miss the stuff that had to go) apart from time and energy to start earning more; considerably more.


    July 22, 2012

  5. @MArie, I like the phrase, “pawning your labor.” Very well put. I agree that it’s quite easy to get used to living on less. And the feeling of no debt or money stress is so worth it!


    July 22, 2012

  6. Wow! I love the picture. That says it all right there!


    July 22, 2012

  7. I’ve given up quite a bit to build wealth. I started by giving up cable TV. Then I gave up eating out for lunch. I gave up going to see friends and family. I gave up vacations. I’m starting to realize that I need to give myself back many of these things, because I went a little overboard.

  8. I agree with it being important (for financial success) to not spend/live like a millionaire. I think we end up doing the opposite! By living frugally, buying second hand clothing etc. I think people might think we’re downright poor! The reality is… we place no value on name brand, high end products!

    Julie @ Freedom 48

    July 22, 2012

  9. I love your action steps. It’s been so long since I’ve written down things to cut that it felt good to do it. Thanks!


    July 23, 2012

  10. @Whitney and Kraig, Like anything else in life, moderation is really important. Finding the balance between reasonable sacrifice and “monkdom” is an ongoing process. Oh BTW Kraig, have you tried streaming netflix for your media fix?
    @Julie-I look at it as a challenge and enjoy looking in a way that betrays my net worth. (Kind of like Mark Zuckerberg-only not as wealthy 🙂 )
    @Joe-I love to write things down. Although finding them when I need them is a real challenge.


    July 26, 2012

  11. Great post to reaffirm saving. I also don’t think people often realize how much stress that having “stuff” and the bills that “stuff” brings!


    July 27, 2012

  12. @Mike, There are many studies that reaffirm the stress that money problems create. It’s just not worth it to overspend.


    July 27, 2012


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