I like to put the word “debt” in all caps because it is fun to emphasize four-letter words.
Debt is like slavery in some ways. And we can all agree that slavery is bad. There is no such thing as “good debt” as opposed to bad debt. All debt is bad. When you are a debtor, you are forced to base important life decisions around your obligations to your creditors. You would rather go for a walk, read a book, or spend quality time with your friends/family today instead of sitting 8+ hours at a desk working for the man? That is too bad for you, because you owe the man. And he has you by the (metaphorical) balls.
With debt, you are at a disadvantage in the world, and you will be taken advantage of. Without debt, you are free.
Being an adult means taking responsibility for your life and your future, and making the best decisions that you can. Getting and staying out of debt is a good decision and should be a priority for every young adult. Education is important, but what expense is it worth? If I had a nickel for every student that extends their daydream by going to grad school, I’d be financially independent by now. Not everybody who goes to grad school is making a bad decision (unless it is law school) but few think out their decision thoroughly. And when they are awarded their advanced degree and begin to establish their position in “the real world” they often have a different outlook than when they were an undergraduate.
Amassing credit card debt is another mistake I see too many people make. Be careful, folks. Every dollar has value, approximately equal to the amount of time it will take you to earn it back. This is true whether you do the earning now or later. Future You and Present You are the same person, and don’t forget it. Credit cards are a valuable tool as long as you approach them with the right mindset. I pay off my credit card balance completely each month, so I never pay any interest. I have no annual credit card fee, and when you factor in the rewards program I’m actually making money.
Being in debt can make you feel like you are suffocating, and breaking free feels just as good as the first breath after a long dive. Anyone who has felt both will think twice about ever going into debt again. So be warned, young pilgrims. If you can avoid the debt trap early on in life, you are that much closer to fulfilling your own dreams. And always remember the first rule of money: “If you spend it, it’s gone.”