Once you start going into debt, it’s hard to get out of it. Debt is a mindset more than it is a financial state. I would know — I’ve been a debtor.
At age 18, I took out a large student loan in order to fund my education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Having absolutely no financial literacy, I went to the school from California, largely pushed by my father as it was his alma mater, having no clue about the way the world worked. I was very sheltered during my childhood and it was a huge shock to my system to be so far away from home at that young age. It was around that time that I began to struggle profusely with money. My relationship with money became very strained, as I now had this huge loan hanging over my head with only the promise of a slightly better-paying job after college.
I was just going along with what everyone else around me was doing, including what my father suggested I do. I was letting other people take control of my life rather than living it for myself and taking the time to see if it was actually something I wanted. I was not living in the present moment, as Buddhist teachings would suggest we do, but I was living in the future — a future that did not yet exist. My mother ended up getting sick and passing away while I was a student, so I ended up moving back to California and getting my degree from UC San Diego — a local college with a better reputation which I was able to pay for with the inheritance I received upon my grandmother’s death later that year.
In the United States of America, we live in a culture of debt. The system is set up for young people to go into debt in order to “be successful,” and get a “good” job, but these colleges are nickel and diming their students. The amount of money I paid to watch PowerPoint lectures is kind of ridiculous. I don’t blame the colleges necessarily — they are trying to make money and many of them are very beautiful with world-class facilities that do a lot of good for the world, and they cost a lot of money to be maintained. However, it is a blatant lie that 1. You need a college degree to be successful or make money and 2. You need to go into debt to get a college degree. The more sensible way to do it, I think, if you want to go to college and cannot afford the price tag, is to attend a local community college for two years, save money, and then transfer to a state school.
Additionally, I was not happy working at the job I did get with my college degree, as I had not taken the time after high school to really get to know myself and explore my options. I was anxious and depressed working there. You could say, for the debt I went into, which I went into from a place of “fear” rather than from a place of “love,” I was energetically punished.
After college ended, I got my first credit card. That was a black hole for me as well, of which I am still paying the consequences. Using a credit card was so easy, and I rationalized that as soon as I got a better-paying job, I’d pay it back. This is not how the universe works. The universe wants us to understand the error of our ways before we can receive our good fortune. So, unfortunately, debt begins to become a lifestyle and a mindset if you are not taking good care of your finances.
In the Bible (which I view more as a guideline to living a moral life than I do hard and fast rules, as I am not what you would consider a “Christian,” but rather, someone who has been on a journey of spiritual awakening in which I have sought out various forms of religion and spirituality and taken bits and pieces from what I have encountered in my own experience), it is considered a sin to be in debt. On my own journey, what I have learned about the Bible is that it is not a book designed to try to make us feel guilty, as I previously viewed it, but rather, there are a lot of truths in that book which really do allow us to live in a sensible, humble, and practical manner which is in alignment with the way the universe works. Some of its teachings and stories are outdated in the modern times in which we live, and many pastors who preach it do so from a fear-based mindset which only promotes feelings of shame and guilt amongst its practitioners, but as I have discovered on my own journey, a lot of truth can be found in its teachings. I think the best way to discover truths for yourself is through experience, but there is a part of me that understands had I been raised more prudently, I would not have had to learn these things the hard way.