The borrower is slave to the lender- part 3

There is a section of the papers that I always read, the section where credit providers escalate matters in order to recoup their funds by way of “sale in execution” and “in the matter between.” I am always filled with compassion for these people that I do not know. I have often been called emotional as I read the names of these strangers and say silent prayers for them.
Discussing money is taboo, and admitting that you are in financial distress is like admitting failure which is often met with immediate judgement and scorn by those who are “smarter with their money and would never over extend themselves”. Many people who earn large salaries or those with “manageable amounts” of debt are often the ones to give unsolicited financial advice keeping those who need help silent. I remember watching cartoons with my friend’s four year old daughter and though I feigned interest in the show, she told me that, “It is not what you say but how you say it. You must be gentle and not hurt other people’s feelings.”
I was once one of those people who believed that it would never happen to me. I have a degree in Accounting, I work in financial services, and I may have terrible money habits but somehow the former would give me a clean slate when I needed it. Unfortunately, after my own mishaps, I realised that even I could run into this type of trouble. I had a clothing store account and a credit card for crying out loud, so I have no foot to stand on in judging others who have had their lives turned upside down by debt. I realise that I too could be in the paper should I fail to pay. It is all sunshine and rainbows when you are told how much you qualify for and the submission process a breeze. It is all good as long as you make the monthly payments, but hell hath no fury like a creditor who doesn’t get their money, and rightfully so, lenders fury is a thing. Try to recall your righteous anger over a friend or family member who owed you money and didn’t pay back on the agreed date? “It’s not the P100, it’s the principle!” you say. “Financial help” can turn into a nightmare pretty fast because indeed the borrower is slave to the lender. The worst thing about debt is that you actually believe that you own the car or house but until you pay it off. It is not yours and this section of the paper and the weekly auctions are evidence of it. Debt is the worst type of poverty because we sign up for it.
Discussing my debt free journey is almost always met with immediate scorn or the assumption that I am misinformed on its benefits. I am told that I may be charged by the bank for early settlement and that I am denying myself the joy of home ownership or a nice car. Someone advised me to take my time and pay off my debt over the maximum repayment period and not be so intense about paying back what I owe. I tried to elaborate on my conviction to be debt free, so that I can have my salary back to build wealth and give, but I stopped mid-way.
I realise that debt has become Batswana’s single story of advancement. We are sold debt with such intensity that we have taken the principles of delayed gratification, saving and buying things cash completely off the table and would rather run pillar to post looking for the lowest rate in order to borrow money. I used to believe there was “good debt” but after 26 weeks of writing this column, which requires me to read A LOT, I realise there is no such thing and no one can convince me otherwise. I get it, I believe that people are good but even good people sometimes give terrible advice. Henry Ford, one of the richest men whose family enjoys this wealth to this day and for generations to come was said to have described debt as a lazy man’s escape route. Rich people save money, broke people-myself included,do not save. We borrow from the rich making them richer and us poorer hence the rich rule over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender. I have nothing against rich people, I want to be a rich person one day so it is in my best interest to listen closely and follow suit. I think the distinguishing factor of us and them is that they save money, live on less than they make, owe nothing and control everything. Unfortunately, we live beyond our means, we don’t save,borrow money and as result have very little to no control. We live to work, pay debt and pass away.
When you decide to tackle your money issues, you quickly come to realise that you have to tackle other issues, guilt, shame, self-worth, greed etc. What we believe about ourselves often shows up in how we handle or mishandle money. That is why it is said that money does not change people, it simply amplifies who they really are. If you are a kind and generous person, money will amplify it. If you are rude and thoughtless, madi a taa re go bolaisa. You realise that managing and growing money are principles based on more than pulas and thebes. I am on the road less travelled, going the extra mile to buy a house cash. The thing about the extra mile is that it is never crowded and lonely. I am looking for like minded people who I can walk this road with, who reject debt in all its forms and want to have money.
How much money would you have if you saved the debt instalments (personal loan, car, mortgage) over the allotted time period? If you didn’t have debt, you would have money to invest, give and have some real fun. You could have options on how to live your life, but until then you owe someone, so off to work you go!
PS: You don’t have to be a hero, you just have to be what most people aren’t, consistent.