Whether you are young or old, you don’t want any part of debt.

When you’re young, you have your entire life in front of you. As you get older, you want to enjoy your friends and family without being burdened by money issues.

Living with debt means your choices are limited. You lack freedom. And that’s just no way to live.

Eventually, borrowing money and reckless spending will catch up with you, and those decisions will have an effect on the rest of your life. How can you make a difference in the world if you’re stressed about paying back loans and credit cards?

Think about this: What could you do with the money you use to pay back student loans, credit cards and car payments? That’s why it’s so important to get out of debt as quickly as you can. The quicker you’ll be able to take that $300-a-month payment and put it toward something meaningful—like retirement, investing and charity.

That’s why, no matter where you are in life, it’s important to begin making smart decisions that allow you to stay out of debt. Get on a budget. Cut up and stop using credit cards. Live on less than you make. Stop financing new cars.

All of those daily decisions will eventually bring you to a debt-free life, where you’ll be free to pursue your dreams and make an impact without worrying about the consequences of debt.

Never forget that debt isn’t a tool. Cash—that’s actual money, not credit—is a tool. The more you earn and the more you save, the easier it is for you to make a difference. 

 Debt-free guidelines to follow:

  1. Pay off student loans as quickly as possible by selling everything you don’t need and taking a second job if possible. 
  2. If you need a car, buy something used and extremely affordable.
  3. Stay away from credit cards…forever. If you play with sharks, you’ll get bitten.
  4. Live within your means—which means take it easy on eating out, going to the movies, pricey vacations, etc.
  5. Learn to say no! This is so important because it’s impossible to get out of debt while you’re still making impulse purchases.