debt slavery http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/11155/all en-US How to Not Be a Debt Slave http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-not-be-a-debt-slave <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-not-be-a-debt-slave" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bigstock_Bankrupt_2725198-2.jpg" alt="Man with empty pockets" title="Man with empty pockets" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="136" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's best not to get in debt at all, of course, but it's easy to accumulate debt without even really thinking about it. Your parents and guidance counselors tell you that a first-rate college education is worth it &quot;no matter the cost,&quot; so you sign the loan papers to borrow whatever the financial aid office says you need to borrow. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/student-loans-how-to-make-post-college-decisions">Student Loans:&nbsp;How to Make Post-College Decisions</a>)</p> <p>Even if you have second thoughts before the end of the first semester, you're already on a path that's pretty hard to get off of. Because, after all, what are your choices? Aside from the option of being a deadbeat, which is pretty unappealing, you really only have one &mdash; proceed to get an education, get a job, and put in as many years as it takes to pay off that debt.</p> <p>The deadbeat path is a poor choice, especially for student loans (which generally can't be <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-the-road-out-of-debt">discharged in bankruptcy</a>, although there is a new program for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/escape-student-loan-debt-slowly">eventually escaping student loan debt</a>).</p> <p>This is because your creditors have serious powers to extract money from you:</p> <ul> <li>They can seize any collateral that you pledged for your loan (although usually they'll only go to the trouble for the big stuff &mdash; your house, your car, your business).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>They can seize any amount that you have in bank accounts (although your retirement accounts and anything you have coming to you from Social Security are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/making-direct-deposit-safe-for-the-garnished">supposed to be protected</a>).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>They can force your employer to give a big chunk of every paycheck to them &mdash; even if it's less than your minimum payment, meaning that your debt is still growing every month.</li> </ul> <p>They can't technically have the police throw you into jail for not paying your debts &mdash; but they can have the police throw you into jail for failing to respond correctly to each and every item of paperwork when they sue you. And, since you can't afford a lawyer, that amounts to pretty much the same thing.</p> <p>Does this amount to slavery? I think so. On the scale of historical forms of slavery, the level of violence is pretty low, but <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/voluntary-slavery">your freedom is severely constrained</a> &mdash; you either do whatever it takes to make each and every debt payment, or your creditors will ruin your life.</p> <p>There's only one good way to escape debt slavery, which is to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-you-buy-your-way-out-of-the-rat-race">buy your way out</a>. If you earn a lot of money (or life cheaply enough), you can pay your debt down at an accelerated rate. This particular path makes a great story, because it's just an extreme version of the sort of &quot;right living&quot; that our culture supports.</p> <p>The path is easy to describe, even if it's not so easy to do:</p> <ol> <li>Boost your income and cut your expenses, to generate a surplus.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Make the minimum payments on all your debts (to do otherwise would be to rack up serious fees and penalties).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Pick one debt to pay off first, and apply all your remaining surplus to that one debt.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>As each debt is paid off, roll the minimum payment for that debt into the surplus and repeat the process with the next debt. (This is called the &quot;snowball method,&quot; for the way the surplus builds as each debt is paid off and its minimum payment can be rolled in.)</li> </ol> <p>Better to avoid debt altogether, if you can.<br /> &nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-not-be-a-debt-slave">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/prioritize-these-5-bills-when-youre-short-on-cash">Prioritize These 5 Bills When You&#039;re Short on Cash</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-get-student-loan-debt-forgiveness">8 Ways to Get Student Loan Debt Forgiveness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-easy-ways-to-avoid-student-loan-debt">12 Easy Ways to Avoid Student Loan Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-surprising-ways-to-pay-off-your-student-loans">8 Surprising Ways to Pay Off Your Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-couple-paid-off-147k-of-debt-even-while-unemployed">How One Couple Paid Off $147k of Debt (Even While Unemployed)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management debt slavery getting out of debt student loans Wed, 01 Feb 2012 11:24:26 +0000 Philip Brewer 884264 at http://www.wisebread.com A Society of Fear http://www.wisebread.com/a-society-of-fear <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/a-society-of-fear" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/free-labor-will-win.jpg" alt="Worker in front of American Flag with the text &quot;Free Labor Will Win&quot;" title="Free Labor Will Win" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="346" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are people out there whose livelihoods depend on the fact that most people go every day to some job or another. Business owners, investors, retired folks &mdash; capitalists in general &mdash; pay their expenses with profits that would be threatened if there weren't plenty of workers trading their life for a paycheck.</p> <p>I don't mean to speak ill of capitalists &mdash; I'm one of them (in my own &quot;eking out a meager existence&quot; way). But as a group, they have a vested interest in most people choosing to get up and go to work every day. And, as a group, they're terrified that most people wouldn't do that unless they had to.</p> <p>I think that's why society has been organized to make the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wage-slave-debt-slave">wage slave/debt slave trap</a> the default path for almost everyone.</p> <p>It's a gentle trap: borrow a bit to go to college, a bit more to buy a car, a bit more to buy a house... You earn plenty of money and enjoy a comfortable life &mdash; and all you lose is your freedom to do anything else besides get up everyday and go to work.</p> <p>When I wrote about it before, a lot of commenters chimed in to defend the wage slave/debt slave trap &mdash; on the grounds that it motivates people to &quot;work;&quot; that it teaches them how to &quot;manage money;&quot; that it keeps them &quot;honest.&quot;</p> <p>And I find that fascinating. Because, see, I can understand <strong>business owners</strong> feeling that way &mdash; their profits would drop if people managed to escape their debt traps, gaining options besides showing up at their job day after day. I can also understand <strong>managers</strong> feeling that way &mdash; their bonuses would be a lot smaller (and their jobs a lot harder) if their employees were in a position to choose the work that was the most fun or interesting or useful or important. I can understand the <strong>government</strong> feeling this way &mdash; income taxes could drop a lot if debt-free citizens could choose to earn less.</p> <p>But I'm mystified by <strong>ordinary people</strong> feeling this way. It's bad enough that people put themselves into the position of having to go to work every day &mdash; and worse, having to go with whatever job pays the most because it's the only way to get all the bills paid &mdash; rather than being able to choose work because it's interesting or because it helps people. But that's only the beginning of the madness. Everyone in the debt slave/wage slave trap has to worry that any little mistake could cost them all their worldly goods and their entire future.</p> <p>In a world where these sorts of debts are normal, an ordinary person with ordinary expenses has to be afraid all the time. An unexpected expense can put the whole household at risk &mdash; it means more debt, probably at a higher rate. Any little glitch in earnings can be ruinous &mdash; it means missed payments, late fees and penalty rates of interest.</p> <p>Imagine if things were different &mdash; if most people had a comfortable emergency fund and little or no debt. A lost job would mean belt tightening, but not foreclosure. A sudden spike in fuel costs would mean turning down the thermostat and wearing a sweater, but not pawning the wedding rings for enough gas to get to work one more week. It would mean not living in fear.</p> <p>As I said, there are a lot of people who think their livelihood depends on that fear. Those whose profits are higher and jobs are easier when there are plenty of frightened workers have a vested interest in things as they are. But I think we'd be better off if people were less afraid.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-society-of-fear">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wage-slave-debt-slave">Wage slave, debt slave</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom">Self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retirement-on-the-installment-plan">Retirement on the installment plan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-an-employee-to-do-part-1">What&#039;s an employee to do? Part 1</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-financial-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-get-fired">11 Financial Moves to Make the Moment You Get Fired</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Career and Income Debt Management capital capitalism debt debt slave debt slavery employee employment fear freedom unemployment wage slave wage slavery Wed, 28 Oct 2009 13:00:02 +0000 Philip Brewer 3760 at http://www.wisebread.com Wage slave, debt slave http://www.wisebread.com/wage-slave-debt-slave <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wage-slave-debt-slave" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/way-out.jpg" alt="Signs showing the way out" title="Way Out a rama" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>This article has its roots in an article I wrote some time ago that used the terms wage slave and debt peonage--terms that some people objected to. Those making free choices aren't slaves, they said, even if their poor choices result in a hard life. There's some truth to that. But there's also some truth to the notion that our system makes it easy--almost automatic--for people to trap themselves.</p> <p>I've thought about it a lot since then, and found that the terms still resonate with me. It's true that the system makes people complicit in the process that traps them, but that fact doesn't make it okay. It seems to me that the system is designed, whether consciously or not, specifically to get people locked into it.</p> <p>(The article where I&nbsp;used the terms, by the way, was this one: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom"> Self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom</a>.)</p> <h2>Student loans</h2> <p>It starts with student loans--available to any student, pretty much without regard to whether their course of study will give them the skills and certifications that will produce an income to support the debt load.</p> <p>Students with parents who are both generous and affluent can escape. (I largely did.) Students who are both unusually smart and unusually wise, or else are lucky enough to get very good, thoughtful advice, can escape. But most students come out of college with debts that lock them into the money economy. They have no choice but to earn enough money to pay off that debt--on top of the money they need to support themselves, of course. Even bankruptcy won't free them.</p> <p>Which isn't to say that student loans are evil. For many poor students who couldn't otherwise afford to get an education, they're a marvelous tool--something that can break generational poverty and let people aspire to some of the great things that can follow on from education.</p> <p>But for too many people, student loans are a default choice that they make--often before they've even graduated from high school--without even imagining that there are alternatives.</p> <p>And that's just the beginning of it. The default path is to graduate from college and then get a job to pay off the student loan (and pay living expenses). The wise graduate might know that it'd be a good idea to get that loan paid off quickly, but that's still likely to take a decade. It's not practical to put your life on hold until then, so you proceed with all the ordinary aspects of living your life: getting married, having kids, buying a house--with the attendant mortgage.</p> <h2>Mortgages</h2> <p>Mortgages are no more evil than student loans. If you buy a house that's well within your means, a mortgage can be cheaper than renting.</p> <p>But just like a student loan, a mortgage traps you in the money economy--you have to earn enough money to make that mortgage payment (and your student loan, and all the other costs of supporting your family), or else you lose your house.</p> <p>I won't even talk about credit card debt.</p> <h2>The trap</h2> <p>This all works fine for most people, but it fails badly for some--for people who can't find work or lose their job or become disabled. It fails less badly for others--people whose degree prepared them for work that they enjoy, but that doesn't pay well enough to both support them and get them out of debt, or for people whose work pays well enough but that they don't enjoy.&nbsp; Overall, I'd say it fails to some extent for lots of people.</p> <p>There are all kinds of ways to support yourself besides working at a regular job. You can be self-employed, you can do freelance work, you can be a writer or an artist, you can grow your own food and make the things you need. Most of those ways won't support you at a middle-class standard of living, but they're an option. Except that they <strong>aren't</strong> an option to most people, because most people are in debt. And most people in debt can't cover their cash expenses any other way than by working at a regular job--those other options, although they can provide enough to eke out a meager existence, don't generate enough cash to do that and make the monthly payments.</p> <h2>The way out</h2> <p>In the end, debt and wages work together to trap the overwhelming majority of people.</p> <p>It's hardly an airtight trap. You can buy your way out if you earn good money: Keep your expenses low, pay off those debts, get enough savings that you don't need to borrow again, start making some investments.... That path to financial independence is well known to anyone who reads financial blogs.</p> <p>But it's a path that most high school students don't learn about. Most people only begin to understand when it's too late--after some young kid (i.e. them at age 17), guided by well-meaning but under-thoughtful parents, guidance counselors, and college admission advisors, have set them on the path to being locked into employment by wages and debt. Once you're there, it's a long hard slog to switch back to the path to financial independence.</p> <p>One thing I'm sad about is that so many people who have managed to find the path to freedom have so little sympathy for the people who went badly astray. Granted, those who have just begun to find their way will be in the midst of difficult striving, but it somehow seems to me that should give people <strong>more</strong> empathy with those who, following the default advice, headed down the path of debt. In fact, though, it seems to give them less.</p> <p>There's nothing wrong with debt and there's nothing wrong with wages. But I think the system we have now is pernicious. It makes sure that everyone starts out with a load of debt to trap them into working for wages at exactly the moment that they might otherwise be exploring other possibilities, and keeps them there until family obligations and a promising career make it hard to escape.</p> <p>It's not impossible to escape. Wise Bread is full of advice, both tactical and strategic, for finding the path out of the debt and wage trap. Better if you never get trapped in the first place, but who among us has such luck? Who among us was smart enough or lucky enough or well-advised enough as teenagers to find the path to financial independence early? Too few.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wage-slave-debt-slave">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-society-of-fear">A Society of Fear</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom">Self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-if-foreigners-quit-lending-the-us-so-much-money">What if foreigners quit lending the US so much money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/join-america-saves-week-february-24-to-march-2nd">Join America Saves Week February 24 to March 2nd</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/another-path-to-recovery-higher-incomes">Another path to recovery: higher incomes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living Debt Management debt debt slave debt slavery financial independence freedom independence wage slave wage slavery wages Tue, 21 Jul 2009 20:00:07 +0000 Philip Brewer 3412 at http://www.wisebread.com