Fresh Start = Back to Zero
Freedom’s Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose.
“Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose, And nothin’ left was all she left to me, Feelin’ good was easy, Lord, when Bobby sang the blues, And buddy, that was good enough for me. Good enough for me and Bobby McGee.”
Being Broke is No Longer Being Free
Kris Kristofferson wrote those lyrics, Janis Joplin made most of them famous. This is one of my favorite songs, there’s just something about the idea of being so free, with nothing to lose. Of course, nothing to lose would mean I’m broke, but in the recent past, the term “broke” seems to have changed meanings. Now, many folks strive to get to zero, as it would be an improvement, a fresh start. While not long ago, “broke” seemed to mean you had nothing, nowadays, “broke” seems to mean worth far less than nothing. All of a sudden, “broke” means having very little ability to spend money that’s not even yours, to begin with, not just having none of your own to spend. Credit Cards came along, housing debt, lines of credit, and even payday loans. Not to even mention exploding medical debt oh so many new ways to get your paws on money that isn’t really owned by you, but that someone else allows you to use so they can financially “own” you. Now, “nothing left to lose” no longer resembles anything to do with freedom, but crippling debt, and the infamous debtor’s prison. When did we move from “financially strapped” meaning one really had nothing, and essentially free, to the idea of being worth nothing, or zero being such a goal for so many?
The Goal of Zero
For so many Americans, if they truly were financially at zero, that would be more than they’ve been worth in a long time. In fact, many of us strive to someday be worth nothing, to be debt-free, to truly be at zero. Having no debt, what would that actually look like? Living with the burden of everlasting debt, now what does that look like? “Man, I want to keep the house, someday it’ll be worth what I paid for it”, or “Man, I’m hoping to someday pay all this off and start contributing to retirement”.
Climb From Zero, Not To Zero!
There are a lot of theories on this, some political, some historical, some simply of definition. Here’s what I know through my clients file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief because to them, being back at zero, worthless, nothing, zilch, notta, would be a great improvement, and it’s easier to climb from zero than it is to hopefully climb to it. A Chapter 7 provides the ultimate financial “do-over”. It places you back to zero, up to zero, and essentially says, start again do-over.