Some see this as a pile of money - which you can use to buy things, like cars. But what it really represents is power and control - over your own life, and that of others.
Being debt-free is to have control over your own life. Maybe it isn't as exciting as a Jet Ski, but it is a nice thing to have.
As I have noted in the past, Money is probably the greatest invention of mankind. And like any invention, it has a dark side. People sell themselves into perpetual debt, so that they can have shiny objects, usually powered by internal combustion engines.
And what they fail to realize, is that by being in debt, they are selling off a little bit of their freedom. Perhaps it doesn't seem like a lot of freedom is lost, but nevertheless, once you are in debt, you have to work, day after day, to "service" those debts. You have to whore yourself to pay for the interest on material things.
Buying yourself is one of the best purchases you can make. Once you are out of debt and have some money in the bank, you are your own person. If the boss pisses you off, or your employer asks you to do something unethical, you can walk away.
But many folks cannot afford to do that - they live "paycheck to paycheck" in middle-class poverty, surrounded by the latest electronic gadgets, cars in the driveway, 500 channels of cable, texting plans on their smart phones, but "broke" nevertheless.
And when a boss asks them to cover up a toxic waste spill in a third world country, they go along with it. After all, they have 36 payments left to make on the SUV, right?
Once you are debt-free, and by that I mean truly debt-free, you realize how pitifully little money you need to get along in life. With no car payments, cable TV payments, monthly cell phone charges, credit card bills, mortgage, or student loan debt, your only expenses are taxes, food, and gasoline, in about that order.
And yet, even when people are "free" this way, the temptation is to get back into debt again, to buy more "things" and complicate your life further.
Having control over your own life - not being beholden to bosses, working because you want to, not because you have to. These are powerful and wonderful things. And yet few people will ever experience them, in their lifetimes.
And why? So they can have consumer goods, electronic subscription services, and high-calorie food at chain restaurants - all charged on the almighty credit card.
Do these things make them happy? Usually not. A large portion of our population suffers from depression of one sort or another. And I suspect a lot of folks who bought into the consumerist lifestyle are not all that happy.
I think it may explain our high divorce rate. A couple gets married, racks up the debt, buys all the "things" the TeeVee says they should have, and they still are not happy. Must be something wrong with the spouse, right?
Buy the best gift you can give yourself. BUY YOURSELF OUT OF DEBT. Once you realize that you can live on very little, it takes very little to live.
And it certainly is nice, not having to worry about where the money is going to come from, or how to pay the mortgage this month....