Gofaone Nina Tladi
“Debt is to ingrained in our culture that most people can’t envision a car without a payment, a house without a mortgage, a student without a loan and credit without a card. We’ve been sold debt with such repetition and with such fervour that most folks can’t conceive what it would be like to have NO payments.” Dave Ramsey
What if you didn’t have any debt repayments like a car or personal loan, store accounts, mortgage and the most perplexing of them all the motshelo loan? How much of your salary goes towards these payments? Hold on, let me put it this way, how much of your money are you giving away each month? I wonder if the level of dissatisfaction we experience is because our earnings are falling far behind that which we owe, we feel trapped because we are trapped, in jobs and relationships because we have to pay debt. Those whom we owe money lord over us. If someone owes you money and they dare to post anything that is remotely happy or cheerful fill with lender’s fury, policing their social media posts to ensure all their posts are about poverty. An acquaintance once told me that “re tshela ka dikoloto, ga o kgone go dira sepe o sena sekoloto” are we really incapable of delaying gratification? Are our entire lives financed by loans? Patience is one of the factors that distinguish the wealthy from the poor. Debt has been sugar coated as financial help when in reality it is a form of bondage, the rich rule over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender. A slave does not have options, slaves work for someone else and is at the mercy of his/her master.
Every month as I review pay slip and see the debt repayment, it feels like a slap in the face every time. I used to believe that I was smart, but I realise that smart did not make me immune to falling into traps that are strewn at every corner of adulthood in the form of debt. I remember when I opened my clothing store account for example, I needed “to look the part” for my new job. The plan was to get a few items for work, set a very low limit and ensure I pay it off at the end of the month. Fast forward and I went from a limit of P3 000 to almost P12 000 because I was a “good payer”. This is supposedly one of the biggest launches in life,but if I’m such a great payer why don’t you give me discounts instead?
I still remember the day I owed a small amount and was a day late on the monthly payment and got a call at the office. This call was a gentle reminder to pay up. I was livid but really I was embarrassed. How dare they call me to remind me to pay. Had they not seen that I could purchase three perfumes at a time and pay them back in full the next month. Did they not know that I worked in the financial services industry and advised people about money for a living? But even that did not get me to close the account. The account was a crutch that allowed me to wonder into a store and get a dress, make up, perfume, expensive face products or gifts for others. Having purposed my heart to change the way I manage money, I realised that debt was the enemy of my progress and that it undermined all the plans I had. It undermined my ability to save and invest like I wanted, the amount that I could give and peace of mind which comes from not owing anyone anything. I took out my journal and wrote down all the debts I had from smallest balance to largest balance to pay off debt using the debt snowball, thank you Dave Ramsey. I am clearing all these debts one at a time, like a ninja, kicking them out of my life one at a time-three down, one more to go.
Our financial freedom and legacy as Batswana continues to be stolen by our inability to resist debt (slavery and bondage), has been adopted to the point that those who don’t have debt are viewed as foolish and those working tirelessly to be debt free such as myself, extremists. I want you to get out of debt as fast as you can and reclaim your greatest wealth building tool- that way I can give myself a permanent raise of sorts. There has to be more to life than working, paying debts and death, there must be more than this.
I went to the store, cleared the account and requested that they close it. I then broke the card into little pieces-they didn’t have a pair of scissors. I sent my friend the picture of the receipt and cut up card with the hashtag #ReBaakanyaLehatshe and she laughed at how extra I was being. It was really the start of debt freedom.
The borrower is slave is to the lender, every time I knock off debt from my list I restore my dignity, and reclaim my future. I want to work for myself and not for those I owe.
PS: You don’t have to be a hero, you just have to be what most people aren’t, consistent.