How many of us are in debt? Home, car, school loans, toys, bad investments, (maybe not in that order)? If tomorrow we lost our source of income and had to get by on what we had, how many of us could do it?
In the late ‘90s I watched a program about a young couple, (I’ll call them the Smiths), living in Washington state that had built their entire home from junk they had recycled. And it wasn’t just their home they saved money on, they were frugal in the extreme, recycling everything imaginable, growing their own food, buying all their clothes at thrift stores, riding bikes to work or just walking. When they had to buy something they would make sure they got every little bit of value out of it that they possibly could. And it’s not like they were poor. Both of them had good paying jobs. They just seemed to enjoy the challenge of getting by on a shoestring, almost like it was a game. As I saw the extremes they would go to in order to save money I started thinking they were a little crazy. Maybe a lot crazy.
But, at the end of the show, when the narrator said that “the Smiths have no debt and own all their property outright”, my entire perspective changed. One moment they were fanatics, the next moment they were the ones who had it all figured out. As a person who has had some form of debt his entire adult life, and knowing what an emotional drain it can have on you, I’ve found myself thinking about the Smiths many times over the years and wondering how cool it would be to have absolutely no debt. No mortgage, no car loans, no credit card bills. Freedom. Like Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “A man in debt is so far a slave”.
The same is true for a corporation like Fishbowl. When we paid off that million-dollar loan last night, years before we had to, it was much more than a financial transaction. It was a statement that we value our freedom more than the temporary, and deceptive, comfort of a low-interest loan. It was a statement that we reject the notion that modern life and debt are inseparable. We choose to make the sacrifice now, on our own terms, and not later when it’s forced on us and our ability to make that sacrifice may be diminished. We choose to live our corporate life free from the slavery of debt. We choose to be free.
Like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said “He looks the whole world in the face for he owes not any man”.
Here’s to a great, debt-free New Year!
Till next time…