Recently, I was speaking with someone who attends my church and he was sharing how he paid off an $8000 credit card bill after he earned a large sum of money. He was honest about the difficulty in taking $8000 and dropping it on that card. We laughed loudly because I understood 1000{9069888369846a22295093f51d5c50b671d3e10dfb11fc2432385dbc7ef76391}. Somehow our mind tells us that we are missing out on something by paying debt off too soon. The thought of the $8000 paying a bill at one time goes against our cultural philosophy. He proceeded to tell me how his wife was on board with their debt free journey and the progress they were making. It was a blessing because of the new mindset they and so many others are developing. Every week someone is sharing with me their debt elimination victories! It’s surreal every time someone shares with me because our culture is so pro debt.


Some reading this may not understand why becoming debt free is advantageous. For others, it might be hard to imagine living life without the credit card as the emergency fund. Living without a car note or mortgage doesn’t seem possible for many. Paying for college without a student loan seems impossible for a large segment of the population. This is all cultural. 50 years ago, our grandparents could not imagine living with the amount of debt we embrace today. What we consider normal, they would have avoided like the plague. They paid their homes and cars off quickly. They used cash. It was a different culture. It was a different mindset.

Today we live in a debt culture. We live in a monthly payment culture that allows for incredible inflation and high interest to erode any substantial financial growth. We are conditioned to focus on what we can afford on a monthly basis without consideration for the total cost of the item. In many cases, we are throwing away 400{9069888369846a22295093f51d5c50b671d3e10dfb11fc2432385dbc7ef76391} in interest because we take on years in payments.

I’ve been there and done that. I remember when I took out a line of credit for $37,500. I made the monthly payments at 12.5{9069888369846a22295093f51d5c50b671d3e10dfb11fc2432385dbc7ef76391} for 14 years and paid $57,000 in interest!!!!!!!!!!!!! Of course I would draw from the line of credit over the years and the balance didn’t go down until I woke up from the delusion. I had the mindset of the culture and as long as I could “pay my bills”, I was good, right? WRONG!!!! My credit score was excellent but my resources were evaporating monthly and I was making really good $$$.

That was part of the problem too. The more money we make, the more at risk we are for debt payoff procrastination and overspending. This is a condition I have coined when we put off aggressively attacking debt because we have cash flow that can meet the payments. A huge mistake we make during the cash flow peaks is to take on more debt. Many times we do it with a gamblers mentality. We are hoping to hit it big with no real financial training. For many of us, we have access to a lot of credit with a street hustler’s mindset too. It’s a recipe for a financial wreck.


The average person will take out a loan to purchase home. I am a major supporter of home ownership and investing in real estate. The biggest mistake many people make is focusing exclusively on the monthly payment and ignoring the total cost of the home over 30 years. In many instances it will cost two or even three times the sales price. Outrageous! When I realized how much money I was GIVING away in interest on my mortgage and other debts, I knew it was time for drastic changes and begin the process of paying everything off quickly.

I grew to hate paying debt knowing exactly how much money I was throwing away in interest. I know hate is a strong word but it is what it is. I hated waking up having to work to make someone else wealthy. Each month, I was paying a little towards the principle on my mortgage and paying even more towards the bank’s mortgage/profit with the interest. I felt played. I felt tricked. The banks would seduce me with attractive debt incentives and high credit limits that stroked my ego. When I would have trouble paying a bill, they would call with threats and intimidation to take back what was theirs. I truly felt like a slave and I wanted to be free. I was really a slave to the illusion of my lifestyle just as much as the debt. Hmmm.

I had to take ownership for my decision to sign up for the debt. I had to take responsibility for lacking self control and spending more than what I could afford. I couldn’t blame the banks for being the banks. They were the lender and I was the borrower. I was the tail and they were the head. That was the truth no matter how much I tried to deny it. If it was going to change, it was on me to change it. I was tired and ready to do whatever it took to break free.


When I decided to write my stage production College Fever and Debt Free College Degree – The Seminar, I knew I was fighting an uphill cultural battle. Who writes a production about the student loan madness? Who illustrates the cultural dynamics that influence poor college financing decisions onstage? I hadn’t seen anything like it and knew I had a responsibility to present it. Too many people were/are burdened with student debt and the alarms and solutions weren’t being sounded in the community I live and serve in. If anything, the various school systems were/are feeding the kids to the student loan sharks without any opposition. Many families had/have no clue about the financial aid dynamics, parent plus loans, federal vs private loans, subsidized vs unsubsidized loans, etc. We are in an age where people are burdened with $50,000 to $150,000 of student debt for some degrees only worth $20,000 (if that) and consider it to be normal. They complain about the loans but many don’t have an urgency to get rid of them. It is almost like a form of debt paralysis. This is a term I’ve coined when people feel fearful, indifferent, hopeless or clueless about what to do so they do nothing. They try to ignore the loans but the interest keeps growing.

When I saw this repeatedly, I developed that table flipping, righteous indignation about the many debt hustles in our culture. I immersed myself in studying finance, the capitalistic system and how it works. As I learned more, I sad realization hit me hard.

Although, many people were released from the physical slavery plantations in America in 1865, they are now on new, voluntary debt plantations today. Slavery is usually about money and control. We tend to focus the racial aspect of 19th century American slavery but miss the fact that slaves represented cheap labor to make money. It was about THE MONEY! It still occurs in the world the exact same way.

In America, the new and sophisticated slavery is voluntary debt slavery rooted in financial ignorance. This is why Proverbs 22:7 is so profound “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” When you read carefully, you can see our financial slave system in America. In many ways it’s more effective than the American slavery we are most familiar with because it transcends all ethnicities. Instead of picking cotton all day, many of us work a low wage to make enough to pay interest on depreciating items, a long term mortgage, an overpriced education and other debts. Our low wage could even be six figures but by the time taxes and interest attack it, it becomes a low wage. There are enough new trappings that ensure we stay on the financial hamster wheel of exhaustion. Our annual calendar is driven by financial holidays. We are conditioned to hustle and grind non-stop or become complacent because we can’t see our way out of struggling. We have been conditioned to live paycheck to paycheck without any thought of a better way of living. Many people spend EVERYTHING they have and consider it normal. We are fooled into thinking taking 30 years to payoff a house makes good financial sense. THEN, when the monthly payment becomes to high eight years into paying the loan, we refinance in an effort to lower the payment but we extend the term another 30 years (38 years total). If we are as educated as we claim to be, why are financial deficits normal in many American cultures?

Another issue we face in our debt culture is financial silence. Who wants to admit they have followed what the system told them to do, earned the education but are struggling financially? As a result, many suffer quietly. They are drowning in their money woes but won’t say anything until it all blows up. When a financial collapse happens, the financial “massas” come to take back their stuff all to sell it again and make more money. That’s how the game is played and most people are clueless. This is why educating people about the benefits of living debt free is so important. When all of this started to become clear, I had to begin the process of teaching the alternatives.


Most people would be surprised to discover the financial condition of many of the people they elect to write financial policies. This is not to suggest that someone should be filthy rich to write financial policies but they should be fiscally responsible on a personal level.

I will never forget the time a very prominent politician wrote a small personal check to one of my organizations and it bounced. This politician is currently responsible for overseeing billions of government dollars but bounced a relatively small personal check. I did consider the various things that could have happened because I’ve bounced checks in my life. The check eventually cleared on the second deposit but it caught my attention; not from a condemning standpoint but from a reality standpoint.


One of the saddest realizations that I have had to come to in this journey is that many are content with being 21st Century financial slaves. I’m sure this mentality was prevalent in 19th Century as well. I am sure many 19th Century slaves opted to stay on the plantation because they had been conditioned that it was normal. I’m sure many stayed because of the fear of the unknown that came with freedom. It’s no different today.

The biggest issue I see today is financial indifference. This is where a financial education is not important or a priority but it is clear the person is struggling. The latest concert, sporting event or sale takes precedence over getting their finances in order. They complain about their finances but aren’t willing to do what it takes to change their financial picture. As a result, they continue to wade in the waters of debt and delinquencies. It’s real!

I have taught thousands about the dangers of massive debt and the benefits and living without it, all to watch many still take on the massive debt. On the flip side, I have watched many families RUN from the new age plantation like a gazelle (lol). Countless kids and parents email me or run into me on the street and tell me how they avoided the student loans and will be graduating soon. The excitement on their faces is priceless.


CommonCent$ with Jay Cameron is coming in January of 2017. This is a financial and life strategy series of workshops for families, students, businesses and ministries. These sessions will be designed to offer simple and easily applicable steps to see realistic improvements quickly.

I am also committed to teaching our kids about personal finance. It’s much more than an elective or a one-time class. It should be a part of the culture. I will campaign for it to be a part of the broader curriculum. Until it becomes a part of it, I will present it in my productions, teach it at my summer camp, put it in the 10,000 book bag giveaway when we return with those and yell it from the rooftops.

The one thing I do know is that our kids are ready and NEED to hear it. They come to life when they are given the tools to break the cultural debt slave mindset. Just like the lowest elements in our culture can influence us (and our kids) to make foolish choices, I know the right information has the ability to transform hearts and minds and change the story for generations to come. Stay tuned!