Yep, I’m gonna go there. I’m going to talk about debt. More specifically: avoiding debt.

This isn’t a guide to get out of debt. I have a very strict No-Debt Mentality. I’ve never borrowed money and I’ve never been in debt, so I’m not here to help you get out of debt, I’m here to talk about the No-Debt Mentality as a way of thinking from the beginning.

I’m making this especially for those who are younger and just starting out with your careers. I want to make this something you can share with your younger brother so he never has to experience crippling debt.

I know many of those who are younger are regularly shown the lifestyle of debt as being a given. It’s simply presented as something you do and as something everyone does. But debt is always a choice. It’s a choice you make—and often justify.

That’s Fine For Sean But…

I have a successful business now, so you may think, “Oh, that’s great for Sean,” but it wasn’t always this way. I’m not able to do this because I’m special or do well for myself, I got to this point because of the way I think. I got here because I thought this way back when my circumstances were very different.

There was a time early on in our marriage when we were barely making 4-figures a month (Related 097: Spouse Episode: The No-Debt Mentality).

We sat on the floor with no couch.

Our mattress was on the ground, and my wife and I shared one car.

I bring this up to let you know that I’m not special. I struggled for a long time and barely made it month-to-month paying bills and I still stayed true to these values. It’s a matter of pure logic for me: I don’t spend money I don’t have and I don’t live outside my means.

You’re either the master or the slave.

You own your life or you owe your life.

I decided, I wanted to be the master of my life. We could have afforded monthly payments on another car, or a better car, or a couch, or a tv, but I didn’t want to fall into that trap of living outside my means.

I think in a very straightforward manner. It’s pure logic for me: I didn’t have the money for those things, so I didn’t buy them. Debt isn’t an option in my mind.

There are a lot of other people out there who will tell you to compromise. They’ll tell you you should compromise and that you have no other option. But you do have an option. It is always a choice.

Every single time someone goes into debt, they are making a choice.

Responsibility Over Excuses

When you look at the comments for this video, you will see comments from people that fall into one of two categories:

  1. People who want to take responsibility for their life and their actions.
  2. People who want to make excuses.

It’s very simple and it’s all a matter of your mindset: Do you want to be the master or the slave? Do you want to own your life or owe your life?

If you look for a reason or a justification for debt, you will always find it.

If you look for a way to take responsibility for your life and your actions, you will always find it.

My personal goal is to always be in a state of actively seeking places I can take responsibility. Everything is a challenge to face, not an excuse to take.

Resist The “Extreme Example” Temptation

When this topic comes up, what a lot of people like to do is bring up an extreme example. They’ll say, “Well, what if [fill in extreme example here] situation comes up, and you can’t do that, how do you have any other choice but debt?”

The tendency seems to be “What are the extremes and where can I make exceptions?” This is the wrong attitude.

You have to start with your values.

Your actions will reflect your values.

If you’re looking for ways to justify debt, those actions indicate a desire to make excuses and to shirk responsibility.

Start With Your Values

Start with your values, and act in line with those values. The question I ask is: “How can I approach any situation and remain true to my values?” Everything is a challenge. I don’t make up extreme example to excuse myself of responsibility. If an extreme circumstance arises, I will approach it from a standpoint of values.

My values are that I don’t buy things I can’t afford and I don’t live outside my means. Why are these my values? Because I want to be the master of my life. I want to own my life, not owe it.

You cannot put a price on the feeling of not being in debt.

What are you starting with?

  • Are you starting with “Where can I find the extremes?” and “Where can I find the excuses?”
  • Are you starting with your values and seeing everything as a challenge on how you can remain true to your values and not compromise them?

I want you to experience freedom. When you borrow money, you are a slave. You will feel that stress, you will feel that anxiety. Especially if you’re young, I implore you not to take the easy route. Even if it’s less comfortable now, you will thank yourself later. You cannot put a price on the feeling of not being in debt.

Establish your values and start there. Let exception be exceptions. They’re just that—exceptions. Many people like to focus on the exceptions, and I just see that leading to more and more compromise on values.

I hope this challenges you, I hope this gets you thinking about your values, your choices, and empowers you to take responsibility for your life and your actions.

If I can get someone thinking on their values, that’s what matters to me.