If you want to create a good life for yourself and contribute to a better society for everyone, there is a simple, albeit challenging way. Just don’t borrow money. Find another path. As I have written previously, “When Young and Poor, Be Young and Poor.”
We all need a reasonable level of prosperity to live happy, fulfilling lives. Debt drains our capacity to accumulate wealth and reach this level of financial security. Unfortunately, there are social norms regarding housing, education, and rites of passage such as marriage that essentially guarantee utilization of debt by teens and young adults of the working class. Breaking this pattern and eschewing these norms requires knowledge, along with a high level of courage and independent thinking.
The benefits of avoiding debt extend beyond the individual. If a significant number of consumers refuse debt, there would be one of two results. One possibility is that society as we know it would just collapse. Without debt-based consumer spending, economic activity in the United States would fall precipitously. This would ripple around the world. Profits would drop as well as employment, and we would enter a recession or depression. The other possibility is that society would reform for the better. Rather than a debt based economic model in which a small portion of society keeps much more than they produce, we would have a more equitable society that works to the benefit of all who contribute. Rather than debt, we would have higher wages and a distribution of ownership that reflects the actual value of everyone’s work. Increases in productivity would result in better lives for everyone.
Avoiding debt is not easy and for most sacrifices must be made. For many, this could include alternate living arrangements such as staying home longer, living without a car and taking full advantage of public education opportunities. It may impact the type of clothes you wear and the kind of wedding you choose.
For maximum benefit, the decision to avoid debt must be made early, ideally before college and accumulation of student debt. For most, the gains in just a few short years will be well worth the sacrifice.