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Let’s honor our soldiers by staying out of financial slavery

May 30, 2012

Earn this freedom you have received through the sacrifice of others.

This past week we celebrated Memorial Day. From the Revolutionary War through the conflict in Afghanistan, more than 1,300,000 soldiers have given their lives so we can enjoy the freedoms we have today.

Around 1,400,000 soldiers currently serve in our military on active duty, and another more than 800,000 are in the reserves.

These soldiers make sacrifices for our country, and in turn, our individual freedoms. So how are we doing as a society to take advantage of the freedom we receive from their service around the world?

I would argue not very well. We live in a country with an amazing amount of freedom, but with the use of debt, many have trapped themselves in a life of slavery to repay their debts.

We have borrowed more than $1 trillion in student loan debts. This puts many recent college graduates in a tough spot where the job they choose is largely determined by how it will help pay off their student loan debt.

We have borrowed more than $800 billion in credit card debt. By purchasing now and paying later, many have had to pay double the price of products with interest.

We have borrowed more than $300 billion in auto loans. Even though we have nice cars to drive, the monthly payments put a strain on many budgets.

We have borrowed more than $10 trillion in mortgage debt. The total value of property of this debt is only around $9 trillion, meaning that as a group, we are more than $1 trillion under water. When homeowners find themselves under water on their mortgage, it may feel like a jail sentence.

We have continually elected federal officials from both parties who spend more than we have in revenue. In this current year, we have a budget shortfall of more than $1 trillion with a total national debt of more than $15.5 trillion.

We have let down those who have fought and been injured or died for our freedom. The bondage we have put on ourselves and our country by our overspending has removed the freedom that has so graciously been given to us.

All is not loss. We can turn this around and show the world and our neighbors this loss was not in vain.

We can choose to make wiser decisions about how we pay for our college education. A little more sacrifice and attending a little more affordable school can provide many with a debt-free education.

We can choose to wait to purchase a product until we have saved enough for it. We can pay in cash and not have to pay additional interest.

We can choose to drive our cars a little longer and get to the point where the monthly car payment isn’t breaking the family budget.

We can choose to not borrow as much as the bank will lend us. We can take out a fixed mortgage that has us spending less than 25 percent of our monthly income toward our housing.

We can choose to elect federal officials who will balance the budget and start to cut the national debt; people who don’t promise us programs and tax cuts we can’t afford. This probably will lead to sacrifices as important federal programs will be cut and taxes likely will increase. This will make life a little more difficult to us now, but will pay off later.

These are all difficult cuts we will have to make, but is nowhere near the sacrifice American soldiers have and continue to make for us.

We can honor our soldiers on Memorial Day, but the greater honor we can give them is to live our lives so as to not be in slavery to our individual or country’s debt.

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