The borrower is slave to the lender. — Proverbs 22:7
Last Christmas, shoppers racked up an average of $1000 in debt during the holiday season. Nearly 80% of US workers live paycheck to paycheck and 1 in 3 Americans have less than $5000 saved for retirement. Santa is broke beloved and it’s time we start acting accordingly.
Some might say that Christmas Eve is a bad time to remind us about our financial situation. But I disagree, the truth is a gift any day of the year. Besides, the Christmas Spirit shouldn’t be about going further into debt. I say that knowing firsthand what it’s like to climb of it.
When I started at Mission Bit we had no funding. I needed to raise money to fund the organization and my salary. I put the organization first and paid myself inconsistently as a 1099 employee. When I couldn’t make ends meet I used my credit card to get by. As a result, I had a nice juicy tax bill at the end of the year and credit card debt. These are the uncomfortable parts of starting a business. I spent many days eating $1 bread from the grocery story on 24th street, top ramen and oatmeal.
Eventually, we raised enough money to put Mission Bit on stable financial footing, but I had to get my financial house in order. Books like Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, Tony Robbins’ Master The Money Game and Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich put me on a path to pay down my debt and build my investments.
I had to educate myself about money. Throughout this process I kept asking, why didn’t I learn this in school? I asked a high level district official for an overview of our financial literacy curriculum. Come to find out, there isn’t one.
That partially helps explain the current state of affairs. We’ve made it acceptable to live on debt while also not giving people the tools to manage their money. We go into debt for college, our cars, our mortgages and to finance Christmas morning. Our children deserve better.
In the coming year, I will introduce a resolution to develop a financial literacy curriculum in our schools. We want our children to pursue their passions, whether it’s the arts, sciences, teaching, technology or a trade. But no matter what they do, they’re going to have to know how to deal with money and it’s our responsibility to make sure they’re prepared.