"Truth is like poetry and most people hate poetry." - Quote from the movie, The Big Short
So, what IS an “unfair advantage” anyway and how does being debt free give me one (or more)?
Do I even want an unfair advantage? Isn’t that kind of well.... unfair?
Before we talk about why being debt free is good because it creates an unfair advantage, we need unpack what an "unfair advantage" actually is and why you want as many of them as you can get in this life.
And by the way, I felt it germane to tackle this somewhat “charged” topic of fairness as it relates to economics.
I truly believe that part of the reason I was able to eliminate my debt and get on a path to financial independence was because, as I was eliminating my debt, I was simultaneously reforming my thinking.
You can read more about that story at: $43k Paid Off!
As I embraced the “8 Steps To Erase Debt” and worked by rear-end off, I started to get my mind right.
I started to see how the world REALLY works and how wisdom in and of itself (if heeded and followed) gives one the greatest of unfair advantages.
So, while I know that some of these ideas may be challenging to you, I encourage you to stick with them and to not dismiss them outright.
Your future self will be SO happy you did!
1. You are mentally, psychologically, emotionally and financially released from the inherent bondage of debt.
2. Your income is now freed from the oppression of having to pay interest on someone else’s money that you borrowed from the future.
3. You’re now also on your way to no longer being a "wage slave” (i.e. having to trade time for money).
4. You now have both life and career options.
5. Investment opportunities are everywhere.
I often remember Mr. Bible, my 6th grade history teacher who was fond of stroking his substantial beard and asking the provocative question, “who said it had to be fair?”
It’s one of those quotes that rattled around in my head off and on over the last few decades.
And honestly, I’m pretty sure I didn’t know what he actually meant for the longest time.
At the time, I just sort of accepted is as a truism I couldn't grasp and went on with my life.
But, it’s like he planted a seed that slowly but progressively sprouted into a sapling that (gratefully) started to crowd my mind with truth.
But unfortunately (or fortunately?), it would require many years of life experience, disappointment and my requisite poor decisions, to uncover what “who said it had to be fair?” actually means.
Thanks Mr. Bible?? No seriously, thank you! I actually do finally get it.
And by the way, I'm fully aware that this whole concept of "fairness" is a politically charged concept. I don't mind that at all.
I feel it important to emphasize here that the effort involved in moving from debt-slavery to financial peace, will constantly challenge your thinking.
This is normal, natural and required if you are to ever win economically. You HAVE TO continue to reform your thinking in this area.
We all know that there's garbage between our ears (including mine) that we must flush in order to move forward.
The more willing we are to ruthlessly inventory truth (treasure) from error (garbage), the faster we will make progress.
So in the interest of challenge, let's unpack the two distinct meanings of fairness and their two resultant philosophical proclivities in our world.
And for the purposes of introduction, the two meanings of "fairness" are embodied in two distinct approaches to life: "The World Owes Me (Entitlement Parts I & II) and "The World Is Not Fair And That's The Way It Is".
The world may not owe you and me, but it sure owes this guy a treat...
Fairness to some means that the world owes them something.
Perhaps because they’ve been disadvantaged at some point in their lives either once or as an ongoing experience, they believe things should be “made right” by others.
So fairness to part of this “world owes me" mindset means they feel entitled to be brought back to “ground zero” or to their concept of “what everyone deserves”.
Other than the fact that the world actually owes us nothing, the sad limitation of this viewpoint is that it projects that the world is a zero sum game and that “there’s only so much to go around”.
This is why this type of person typically sees an “unfair advantage” as a negative. If someone gets an advantage that means someone else loses out.
Although this is not at all the reality, it is the perceived reality for this particular world view.
And I’ll admit, before I eliminated my debt I used to somewhat belong to this way of thinking.
Fairness to another subset of this world view means that , like the previous example, they are entitled to be gingerly delivered with white glove treatment to “ground zero”, strive for or demand it, but then lack the intellectual or moral honesty to “take it from there” and achieve prosperity and success on their own merits, sweat and hard work.
This is the straight up “gimme gimme” crowd. Their appetite for “free stuff” and endless privilege-seeking knows no boundaries.
Mercifully, I was never a part of this way of thinking. It is an exceedingly bleak outlook on life that I’ve personally never been able to relate to.
If you're reading this, it's likely you can't relate to it either. Good!
From what I’ve seen, this is an almost non-reformable worldview, meaning that it’s adherents and their enablers are typically immovably entrenched and incentivized to stay in this way of operating in the world.
I'm not worried about them, they have been and will likely always be with us.
I'd rather focus on reforming what, and more importantly, who can be reformed.
Accepting that the world is not fair and moving on is the best way forward in life.
The world IS NOT fair.
This is just the cold hard truth and, in my experience this is both the understanding and mindset of folks who "get it done" and are generally winners.
And, if they've not let their success tempt them to arrogance, they're the type of folks you would probably want to have lunch or play bocce ball with.
Typically, "fairness" to this mindset has WAY more to do with the way we should treat each other and nothing at all to do with entitlement.
These are the people who don’t make excuses and just plain "get after it" in life.
They understand inherently that the world is not fair and accept that as a matter of plain fact whether they are able articulate it that way or not.
I definitely consider myself an adherent to this worldview.
I actually believe that the world owes me nothing and though I work hard and adhere to wisdom, everything I have is undeserved and a gift from Almighty God himself.
Again, this doesn’t mean that I deserve even what I have. Rather, it means that I endeavor to adhere to Godly wisdom as much as I am able.
And as a result, operating within those principles typically (although not always) bears the most excellent fruit in this life.
So, in terms of economics, an unfair advantage is a situation or set of circumstances that gives the beneficiary the opportunity to earn more money, save more money and generally to be financially better off than most.
Keep in mind that this ideally should happen in the context of not causing any harm to others, which I will unpack a little later.
Given that this is indeed an unfair and fallen world, one should wish to gather as many of these “unfair advantages” as possible, again without causing harm to others.
These unfair advantages are often unforeseen and unplanned for blessings that come from adhering to wisdom coupled with God's blessings in following that wisdom.
Truth is always found apart from the crowd, so find some solitude and reflect.
An unfair advantage is NOT taking something from someone else and giving it to another unjustly, as in outright theft and/or the economic concept of socialism or communism.
This may cause you to want to click away. I implore you to resist the urge and at least consider the logic of what I'm saying.
"Theft” by any means is absolutely morally wrong and we all know it in our (unsuppressed) consciences.
Yes, one could argue that theft gives one an "unfair advantage", but this is not the type of unfair advantage I'm talking about.
Rather, the type of unfair advantage I'm talking about is the fruit of living in wisdom, working hard and therefore creating a set of circumstances that produce unfettered and guilt-free blessings.
The fruit of theft by any means is ultimately rotten, even though it may not appear that way immediately.
We all know this but can be so easily swayed to suppress our consciences by those who would offer us "free stuff". I am of course referring particularly to the political realm and the ever present temptation of many toward socialism.
I'm instead encouraging you to reject the temptation of "free stuff" (which it never actually is) and instead embrace a life of wisdom and hard work that ultimately results in the blessings of many "unfair advantages".
Okay, now that I've sufficiently beaten that horse to death, let's talk about the 5 unfair advantages you receive when you're debt free. :)
This one was HUGE for me. The oppression I felt at every level when I was being crushed by my debt was, well crushing.
The day I wrote the last check was quite literally one of the happiest days of my life.
You can read about it here: $43k Paid Off.
This means that you can now accelerate your savings and investment rates.
You can move toward financial independence MUCH more quickly because you’re not paying interest, rather your earning interest.
This a fantastic unfair advantage you now have over at least 80% of the population (78% of whom live paycheck to paycheck).
Zero debt and an elevated savings rate means that you’re on your way to not necessarily having to trade dollars for time.
This could be in the form of income producing assets like: dividends, real estate or an online business among many others.
Options are a thing that most people don’t have, so having “options” in and of itself is an unfair advantage.
For example, you’re not pinned down to the career you are in now “just because” you have to make payments.
Remember again that 78% of the population lives paycheck to paycheck.
So, being debt free and living within your means even gives you the option for example, of earning less if it means moving to a more meaningful and/or enjoyable career.
Options are a beautiful thing and you have lots of them once you're debt free.
Unreasonable requests (particularly from your boss) can be dismissed off hand because you now have no fear of not being able to pay the principle and interest on your debts.
You can actually fire your boss (which I have done) without having a new one yet (not necessarily recommended).
As mentioned in point number two, instead of paying interest you're now in the position of earning and compounding interest.
As you sort of ease into this mindset, you'll start to see that investment opportunities abound.
I want you to invest as much as you can, but I also want you to be extremely careful that you don't fall into any traps, so be careful.
We'll talk more about investments in future content.
I know for a fact that my life and my thinking have been forever changed by both the process and the outcome of becoming debt free.
Some of these ideas may be challenging to you even as you ingest them.
I'm deeply appreciative of your willingness to do so and I encourage you to stay with the process.
And by the way the process is our “8 Steps To Erase Debt” which is as follows:
0. Stop All Retirement Investing (Until Step 4)2. Starter Emergency Fund of $10003. Eliminate Debts Smallest To Largest (a.k.a The Debt Snowball)4. Full Emergency Fund of 3-6+ Months’ Expenses5. Invest A Minimum of 15% Income Into Retirement Accounts (and increase savings rate to 50%+ if possible)6. College Funding (if applicable)7. Pay Off The Home Mortgage8. Build Wealth, Serve, Be Ridiculously Generous And Go FI (Financial Independence)!