Is Debt Really Slavery?

Hello! My name is Bobbie Bushman and I am the newest contributor to Enemy of Debt. I found Enemy of Debt a couple of weeks ago and I loved it right away because I felt they were doing something that not many other websites are doing. They are telling you the truth about debt, how it can trap you, and how becoming debt free can change your life for the better.

Since I knew I was going to be writing for this site, I starting thinking about what I wanted to say. One thing I say a lot in my personal blog is that debt is slavery. But is that really true?

Some people might say that slavery is a serious word and does not apply to debt because there is still an element of free will, even when you are in debt. That might be true. Let’s look at your options if you are in debt.

  • Ignore it.   I’ve definitely seen people do this. It just creates more debt through fees and penalties.
  • Live with it.  Sure, you can accept debt as a normal part of life, pay the minimum payments on those credit cards, and buy a new and bigger house every five years. This is what most people do. However, this too, usually results in accumulating more debt.
  • Work hard to pay it off. This option is the hardest, but it is also the most rewarding.

Which are you doing? If you agree that debt is slavery then there is only one of these choices that results in freedom. But all three choices may have you in a situation you don’t like.

Do you ever hear people say that they hate their job but they have to work it to pay the bills? If debt is keeping you doing something you don’t want to do, is that enslavement? Isn’t slavery feeling that you don’t have a choice?

It is only now, when I look back on my life when I was in debt, that I feel I was a slave to debt. When I was in the debt, I thought I was normal. I didn’t yet know the freedom of being debt free. I got so used to carrying the weight of debt around, I didn’t even notice it was there.

Dave Ramsey tells us, “Debt is normal. Be weird.” Just because other people accept debt and the limited choices that come with it, doesn’t mean that you have to. My family and I chose to take that less traveled road and sell our mortgaged home, pay off $30,000 in consumer debt, and move to a less expensive area. It was a difficult journey, but it was so worth it!

For my family in our new, debt free life, we can easily save a year’s worth of expenses, work part-time, and stay home with our kids. When we were in debt we could not do any of those things. The thing I wanted to do most was stay home with my kids and husband When we had debt, that just wasn’t an option. I had to work a job I didn’t want to work if I wanted the debt gone. So, is that slavery? I’ll let you decide.

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10 Responses to “Is Debt Really Slavery?”

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  1. Work hard to pay it off is the way to go. I know so many people that choose to ignore their debt and pay minimum payments each month. You will always see them with the best toys, the most expensive beer, cars, wine and clothes. Knowing what we know now we look at the world differently. There is no keeping up with the Jones because the Jones can’t even hold up their own. Paying off Debt is not slavery it’s being smart with your money.

  2. Gina says:

    Great article, and I love your new photo! Love your site, I learn a lot, love the recipes…

  3. Way to take the hard road. I run into a lot of people who only want quick fixes for their $ troubles. 13K for a house is almost unheard of. Wow!

    • Bobbie says:

      Thanks Brent! We were excited to get such a good deal on our house. Fixing it up has definitely taken lots of work and we still aren’t done yet, but then who can’t say that about their house? I felt the same way when we lived in a house that cost 10X the price of this one. In this house, when things go wrong/need repair I calm myself by saying, “At least its paid for . . .”

  4. Dave Hilton says:

    I don’t think debt is slavery. More like a bastardized version of indentured servitude.

    Indentured servants agreed to work to “pay back” someone who agreed to provide them with some type of shelter, food or other goods and services. It’s different now because we’re not working directly FOR the person providing us with these things (mortgage banks, credit card companies, etc.). Instead, we’re responsible for finding work somewhere else to pay for our obligations to them.

    It was a choice to enter into an agreement like that- just like it’s a choice to agree to the terms of a mortgage, car loan or credit card account now.

    The perception of a lack of choices/options is merely the result of our decisions.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I definitely see your point Dave. Slavery as most people think of it — where someone was forced into something against their wishes — is definitely different than what most people refer to as “debt slavery”.

      I think the point is that when you are in debt you remove options from your life that would otherwise allow you to live the life you want. If you’re in debt you are severely limited to what you can do since you have the obligation of paying your minimum payments each and every month.

      When we became debt free we were able to eliminate one of our incomes (mine) which gave us $35K-$40K less per year. People in debt struggle to do this. This act alone gave us the ability to make other choices people do not have the ability to try when they are in debt. We were able to homeschool our kids, start a business without debt, and my wife has even gone down to only working 24 hours a week. Most recently we have decided that since we aren’t tied down to any minimum payments nor a mortgage we are going to pick four places we want to visit in the US and go to each one for 13 weeks each. Our first choice is going to be Hawaii which we will be going to after the summer is over, specifically after FINCON12 in Denver.

      People in debt couldn’t even try to do any of this without adding to their debt load in the process. My conclusion is that debt IS a form of slavery and imprisonment. When something is keeping you from doing something else you are a slave to whatever it is.

      I definitely see your point though. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this man! 😀

  5. Welcome to the team Bobbie.

    Debt sure feels like slavery. It’s telling me what I can and can’t do.

    Looking forward to your posts as well as checking out your blog.

  6. I love your article! Debt is a form of slavery for the reasons you stated. Having debt can stop you from being who you really want to be, it can stop you from living where you want to live and it can stop you from doing other things too.

    All because you have a mountain of debt and monthly payments that you must make to keep everything together. One wrong move or bad month everything can come tumbling down.

    So when you want to make improvements in your life you are too afraid and tired from going to that job you hate!

    Being 100% debt free has given me and my family a freedom that hard for me to explain!

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