Leveraging Liabilities & Staying Debt Free
You’re taught in America that your home is your biggest asset. If that’s true, why do so many Americans fail to utilize their home as an income-producing asset?
The answer is because so many of us are limited by misunderstandings about debt. When we understand the correct definition of debt, we are able to unleash unutilized potential to increase our production.
Can you give a clear definition of debt? We’re taught by financial pundits and religious leaders to avoid debt, but do we even know what debt is? How can we avoid something when we don’t know what we’re trying to avoid?
The most common definition of debt is any borrowed money, which is false. My friend Les McGuire, who spoke Japanese, used to teach this concept by telling people that they should avoid tabemono like the plague. The joke is that tabemono means food in Japanese, and the ironic point is that, first of all, by not knowing what it is we can never avoid it in the first place, and secondly, if we don’t know the correct definition of debt, we may be avoiding the very thing that is the most essential to our financial health.
So many people are avoiding debt, but not only do they not know what it is, they are also avoiding some of the most critical knowledge about finances that keeps them away from prosperity. Ironically, it’s also the knowledge that would help them get out of debt.
The True Definition of Debt
Contrary to the common definition, debt is the negative difference between liabilities and assets. It’s having more liabilities than you have assets on your balance sheet, and the difference between them. The best way to understand this is through balance sheets. The purpose of a balance sheet is to itemize one’s assets and liabilities and determine if they either have an overall equity position, or a debt position. For example, suppose a person owns a home with a market value of $300,000 (asset) and owes $100,000 to the bank (liability). Ignoring every other asset and liability, how much debt does he have? The common definition would say that he has $100,000 of debt. The true definition (although strangely ignored and/or unknown by most people) helps us to see that this person has zero debt, and actually has $200,000 of equity, which is the opposite of debt.