"The borrower is slave to the lender" - Proverbs 22:7

Avoid Debt

“The borrower is slave to the lender” is a phrase derived from Proverbs 22:7 in the Bible, which states, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” This proverb highlights the power imbalance created by debt, where those who borrow money are beholden to those who lend it. Financial expert Dave Ramsey frequently references this quote to emphasize the dangers and constraints of debt. Ramsey’s philosophy revolves around the idea that debt limits financial freedom, creates stress, and hampers one’s ability to build wealth. By avoiding debt and practicing disciplined financial management, you can escape this modern form of servitude and achieve financial independence and peace of mind.


My view on debt has been profoundly shaped by Dave Ramsey’s teachings, which emphasize the importance of financial independence and the pitfalls of borrowing. Ramsey’s principles, particularly his famous adage “the borrower is slave to the lender,” resonate deeply with me, underscoring the constraints and stress that debt imposes on individuals. Inspired by his Debt Snowball method, I have adopted a disciplined approach to eliminating debt, focusing on paying off smaller balances first to build momentum and confidence. Ramsey’s advocacy for living within one’s means and building an emergency fund has also influenced my financial habits, encouraging me to prioritize savings and avoid unnecessary expenditures. This holistic approach to managing money has not only helped me reduce my debt but also instilled a sense of control and peace of mind regarding my financial future.


Achieving financial independence often hinges on the ability to avoid debt and manage finances wisely. The first step in avoiding debt is to live within your means, which involves creating and sticking to a realistic budget. A budget helps track income and expenses, ensuring that spending does not exceed earnings. By identifying necessary expenses and cutting out or reducing non-essential ones, individuals can allocate funds more effectively and avoid the need to borrow.


Building an emergency fund is another crucial strategy for avoiding debt. An emergency fund, typically amounting to three to six months’ worth of living expenses, acts as a financial safety net in case of unexpected expenses such as medical bills, car repairs, or job loss. Having this cushion prevents the need to rely on credit cards or loans during emergencies, thereby avoiding additional debt. Regularly contributing to this fund, even in small amounts, can provide significant financial security over time.


Mindful spending and avoiding lifestyle inflation are also key components of debt avoidance. Lifestyle inflation occurs when individuals increase their spending as their income rises, often leading to unnecessary debt. To counteract this, it’s essential to maintain a frugal mindset and prioritize long-term financial goals over short-term desires. This includes making deliberate purchasing decisions, avoiding impulse buys, and seeking value in every transaction. Practicing delayed gratification and focusing on saving and investing can help build wealth without accumulating debt.


Education and financial literacy play vital roles in debt avoidance. Understanding the terms and implications of any financial commitment is crucial. This includes being wary of high-interest loans, credit card debt, and financing offers that seem too good to be true. By educating themselves on personal finance topics, individuals can make informed decisions and recognize potential debt traps. Seeking advice from financial advisors and utilizing reputable resources can further enhance one’s ability to manage money wisely and maintain financial independence.

Ultimately, avoiding debt requires a proactive and disciplined approach to financial management. By living within one’s means, maintaining an emergency fund, practicing mindful spending, and enhancing financial literacy, individuals can pave the way toward financial independence and long-term security. These habits not only prevent debt accumulation but also foster a mindset of financial responsibility and empowerment.

"Never spend your money before you have it." - Thomas Jefferson

A zero-based budget is a financial planning method where every dollar of your income is allocated to a specific expense, savings goal, or debt repayment, ensuring that your total income minus your total expenses equals zero. This approach requires you to plan your spending in detail, assigning each dollar a purpose, which helps prevent overspending and encourages mindful financial management. By accounting for every dollar, a zero-based budget promotes financial discipline and allows you to prioritize essential expenses, savings, and debt reduction, ultimately fostering greater financial control and stability.


Creating a zero-based budget is a powerful way to take control of your finances and avoid debt by ensuring every dollar you earn has a specific purpose. Here are the steps to make a zero-based budget:

Step 1: Determine Your Monthly Income
  • List All Sources of Income: Include your salary, freelance work, side jobs, investments, and any other income sources.
  • Calculate Total Monthly Income: Sum up all the income sources to know the total amount you have to work with for the month.
Step 2: List All Monthly Expenses
  • Categorize Expenses: Break down your expenses into categories such as housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, insurance, debt payments, savings, entertainment, and miscellaneous.
  • Include Fixed and Variable Expenses: List all regular monthly bills (fixed expenses) and estimate amounts for variable expenses like groceries and gas.
Step 3: Assign a Job to Every Dollar
  • Allocate Income to Expenses: Start by allocating money to essential expenses like rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, and debt payments.
  • Prioritize Savings and Debt Repayment: Ensure you allocate money for savings (emergency fund, retirement) and debt repayment.
  • Budget for Discretionary Spending: Allocate funds for non-essential expenses such as dining out, entertainment, and hobbies.
  • Zero Out Your Budget: Adjust the amounts in each category until your total income minus total expenses equals zero. Every dollar should be assigned to a specific category, leaving no unallocated funds.
Step 4: Track and Adjust Your Spending
  • Monitor Your Spending: Throughout the month, track your spending to ensure you are staying within the budgeted amounts for each category.
  • Make Adjustments as Needed: If you overspend in one category, reallocate funds from another category to balance your budget, keeping the total at zero.
Step 5: Review and Refine Regularly
  • Monthly Review: At the end of each month, review your budget to see how well you adhered to it and where you can improve.
  • Adjust for Changes: Update your budget for any changes in income or expenses, and make necessary adjustments to reflect your financial goals and priorities.

By following these steps, you can create a zero-based budget that helps you manage your money effectively, prioritize your financial goals, and achieve better financial control.

Tips for Success
  • Use Budgeting Tools: Consider using budgeting apps or spreadsheets to simplify tracking and adjustments. (A great Zero-based budgeting tool can be found from Dave Ramsey’s website)
  • Involve Your Family: If you have a family, involve them in the budgeting process to ensure everyone is on the same page.
  • Be Realistic: Set realistic budget amounts to avoid frustration and ensure sustainability.