Editor’s Note: Originally penned in 2004, the content of this post is timeless. 

“Man is by nature a social animal. He who cannot live in society, or who, having no need, is sufficient unto himself, must be either a beast or a god.” – Aristotle

The ol’ greek is really talking about freedom here. He’s talking about how we depend on others. It’s our way.

I guess the best place to start this discussion is by defining freedom. I could list some silly dictionary definition, but that doesn’t really do it for me. Freedom is getting up in the morning and having no obligations but your own.

Now you might say, “I’m free! I choose to go to work!” Do you? What happens if you choose not to go to work?

There are two ways to be free, and ol’ Ari hit ’em both. You can be ultra poor (a beast) or independently wealthy (a god).

The homeless man is free. He goes where he wants, when he wants. His lifestyle leaves quite a few things to be desired, but he is, without question, free.

So to is Bill Gates. If you think someone tells ol’ Bill what to do, you have another thing comin’.

Lets look at the middle though. The best thing anyone can do to improve the level of freedom they enjoy is to remove themselves from the chains of debt. And yes, debt limits your freedom, even if you chose to borrow the money. You may have chosen to handcuff yourself, but you’re handcuffed just the same.

When you have these bills to pay, you cannot afford to miss any work. That means, when your boss walks in, cusses you – or smacks you on the ass and tells you how pretty your mouth is.- you can’t quit. You can’t tell him to go f**k himself either. You depend on him.

Congratulations. You’re a slave with a nice house.

Ahh.. but what if you were debt free? And what if you had $15,000 sitting in the bank? Then when your boss comes in and acts like an ass…. well, you now have considerably more options, don’t you?

Mind you, this isn’t about not working. It’s about options. Take a friend of mine for example. He took up an in-demand trade when he got laid off, and started making good money at it. When the folks at his old job called to re-hire him, he went. But he kept his trade work going too. Why?

Because the money from the trade made it a choice. He can quit that job any time he wants. He doesn’t need it. Consequently, the job is far more enjoyable. All jobs are, when you take no crap.

You want freedom? Here’s how ya get it.

step 1) Save up an emergency fund of 3 months expenses

step 2) Spend as little as possible, and send all the extra money to the bill with the lowest balance.

step 3) Once that bill is paid off, which won’t take long, take the money you were spending on it, and move it to the remaining bill with the lowest balance.

step 4) Repeat step 3 until you are debt free.

step 5) Pay cash for cars and everything under.

Step 6) Horde for the future.