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Do you Rent or Own?

And no, I'm not talking about houses here.

I'm talking about your money.

I'm talking about my money.

Do you own your money? Or do you rent your money?

For the past 19 years, I've been renting my money.

For the past 19 years, I've been in debt in one way or another. Car loans, students loans, credit cards, mortgages, equity lines, business loans, and personal loans.

For the past 19 years, I've been paying other people for the privilege (seriously makes me want to gag) to rent their money.

Chase United Mileage Plus card offered me a deal to rent their money. And as a bonus for renting, I got a few miles and ended up taking a few trips that required me to rent even more money.

Fannie Mae made me a deal to rent their money. I rented their money and lived in a house. I used to call that owning a house but the truth is: I never owned it. I rented the money so that I could live there. Fannie Mae owned the house and they owned the money that I used to stay there.

So here's what is interesting about renting money...

Until I am debt free - I'm still renting.

Even though I'm no longer using credit cards. 

Even though I'm paying off my debt.

Even though I'm kinda militant about the evils of finance charges. And tell every checkstand clerk that offers me 15%-off-if-I-open-a-card-today my opinion of what they are doing.

I'm still using.

Just like a junkie in tenement housing.

I'm still using someone else's money. Paying to rent.

The dollars in my bank account are owed to someone else. They are not mine. I do not own them.

This gives me a very honest perspective on whether or not I should pay money for something or not.

I don't want to rent money anymore.

I want the dollars that I earn to be mine.

I want to own them.

I want to be able to determine what I do with them.

I don't want Bank of America or Chase or anyone else in the private life of my money. These institutions are the financial equivalent to a slumlord.

Slumlords get their name by offering a crappy place to live and making money off of other people's misfortune. (No different than credit card companies.) Slumlords offer initial low rent to lure tenants who will not or cannot pay high rents due to lack of funds or faulty background checks. Slumlords then profit off the dependency of the tenant while continuing to raise the rent. They prey on tenants who believe they cannot live elsewhere.

Credit card companies prey off of our weakness when it comes to instant gratification. They offer us nothing except an offer to pay for renting. They profit enormously from the dependency that they create. 

I'm done with this.

If I want to buy something right now - all I have to do is remind myself that the slumlord is paying for it. And that immediately sets me straight.

I don't want the slumlord to pay for my stuff anymore.

I don't want the slumlord to be in my life at all.

I'm paying the slumlord off. And I'm moving out.

To a place where I own my own money.

Talk about emancipation, baby.


There's nothing better.


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Reader Comments (12)

Amen, sister. I stopped renting money a long time ago and it feels great. Honest, too.

June 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Love love love this Meadow. Powerful.

June 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermichelle

Thanks you guys.

June 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMeadow

I have stopped renting money a few years ago and am loving the freedom of spending my own cash! nice post Meadow.

June 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

Your best article yet Meadow. Nice work. However, it should be said that there is such a thing as good and bad debt. Labeling all debt under all circumstances for all people is going a bit overboard. Having said that, if more people in this country had an attitude towards debt that was more in line with what you've written we wouldn't be in the mess we're in. Bravo!!!

June 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbryan


June 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkathleen

Hey Bryan-

I take a pretty strong stand against debt. I don't see it as "good debt or bad debt" I see debt as renting someone else's money.

However - I do agree that renting someone else's money for a secure appreciating asset is WAY different than renting someone else's money to go shopping at Victoria's Secret.

This post was written - primarily - with consumer credit card debt in mind. (Probably what you're referring to as 'bad debt.')

The problem with a lot of my clients (and readers) is they don't know the difference between what you'd call a good/bad debt.

They think leasing a car is 'good debt.'
They think student loans are 'good debt.'
They think mortgaging a house while real estate prices fall through the floor is a 'good debt.'

Bryan - I'd love to hear from you - how do you determine a good debt from a bad debt?

June 7, 2011 | Registered CommenterMeadow DeVor

This makes me reflect back on the days when charging groceries was frowned upon, now God forbid you pull out cold hard cash or a check book to pay the grocery clerk and you get not only the stink eye from everyone in line behind you but your check (which has the $ in the bank to back it - I had just forgotten my debit (not credit)card) has to take a ride in and out of the little machine, they need all of your info including your blood type and make you feel break out into a cold sweat.
The convenience and entitlement our society lives in is very hard to swallow, and if we could turn back time into the late 30's when our country learned from the depression and found work when and where they could instead of applying for more credit that they can never pay back would be a lesson we all can learn from.
Off my soap box, thanks for the great blog!

June 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarley

Carley - you rock. Love your soap box.

June 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMeadow

What a great post! Thanks Meadow. I am in the same boat..."movin' out"...but still usin' until I am debt free. What a good analogy to keep in mind on a daily basis...even though I no longer incur debt...each dollar I don't spend and instead put towards debt is one more dollar towards FREEDOM. Woo hoo!!!

June 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

Renting is a good way to earn money, but it is quite a bit tricky to get your money back!
Rent Seeker

August 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Hey really nice read on financial liberation! Thank you for the inspiring material.

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKyle Stearns

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