Adam Baker: Sell your crap. Pay your debt. Do what you love (Full Transcript)

Adam Baker

Full transcript of Adam Baker, founder of Man Vs. Debt, presents Sell your crap. Pay your debt. Do what you love at TEDxAsheville conference.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: adam-baker-sell-your-crap-pay-your-debt-do-what-you-love-at-tedxasheville


Hello! Today I want to challenge you — I want to challenge you to answer a question. The good news for you is that this question is actually simple, the words in the question are actually simple. The bad news is, for thousands of years people have been trying to answer this very same question for themselves. People have dedicated their lives for this question, they fought for this question and sometimes they’ve given their lives in defense of this question. And the question is this: what does freedom mean to you?

I’m not taking about like a dictionary definition of freedom, right? I’m not talking about an academic or even intellectual discussion about what freedom is. I am talking about what does it mean to you? What does it mean in your own life? And I know first-hand that this very question has the potential to change your life, because this is the exact question that my wife Courtney and I asked ourselves three years ago.

It was a little bit of awkward time for us to be talking about freedom. It was the night we brought my daughter Milligan home from the hospital. As new parents we struggled for 30, 45, whatever minutes and I used try to get her to go to sleep in her new crib and after that we wandered like zombies out to the kitchen table, and as we sat down, I turned to her and said, “Honey, I need to talk to you about something,” which I’ve learned after five years of marriage that, that’s the most terrible way you can possibly start a conversation. I said I want to talk to you about freedom and you can imagine what her expression was and what her response was. I can’t repeat some of it here today.

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But after we started talking more about it, we realized that the timing of the situation was actually in our favor. Because if there was one thing we were lacking at that point in our life, it was clarity. It was the ability to step back and analyze how we will live in our life. And whether that was congruent with what we really wanted. It started for us on our financial life.

Our financial life had degraded I guess you could say into a simple question. And that’s what item in our apartment do we want to upgrade next? Have you ever had this discussion? Do we need to upgrade the couch or maybe we should save up and get a new kitchen table? Should we switch locations to just get a better apartment or maybe let’s just get a flatter TV and call it a day? This was our financial life at that time.

And then it should be no surprise on what our debt looked like. We were in our young 20s and not even counting the tremendous amount of student loans we carried, we had $18,000 in consumer debt, to start off our new marriage and as new parents. We had four credit cards, we had store cards, we had two automobile loans. We had a loan for the jewelry I bought to get married. We had a loan from family. I used to joke that we were collecting loans, we had one of everything except for a mortgage. And guess what we were house shopping. It was the most hectic time in our life. I just started a new business, I was working 80 hours a week. Courtney had just graduated college. She was starting a classroom as a new teacher. I mean there couldn’t have been a more hectic time in our life. And we were shopping for a mortgage. This didn’t make sense.

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