Debt is Slavery Book Review

I recently picked up a copy of Debt is Slavery:  and 9 Other Things I Wish My Dad Had Taught Me About Money by Michael Mihalik.  There were a couple things that intrigued me about this book.  First, I like the title, because I hate the idea of being a slave to anything, especially debt.  I also liked the parenting reference because I often wonder myself what things I could do to better prepare my kids for handling their own finances some day.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book.  It’s short – a weekend read for me at only 123 pages, but it is packed with good information.


I thought the introduction of this book was very well done as it provides some background information on both the author and the history of money.  Mihalik’s father passed away when he was just 13, which explains the subtitle of the book.  Like most of us raised by a struggling single parent, or by two parents that were bad money role models,  Mahalik made some bad choices early on borrowing heavy debt loads while in college and immediately thereafter.

It reminds me of my own story of borrowing money to finish school, and then borrowing money to pay for various life expenses when I was newly married because we were living beyond our means.

The introduction also includes an excellent section on how to select a teacher for the world of finance.  Two basic questions are really the key to this section:  Have they done what they are teaching?  Do they have your best interests at heart?  If the answer is no to either of these questions you ought to move on.

Chapter 2:  Time May Not Be Money, but Money Definitely is Time

I think the technique of converting purchases into hours worked is a great one.  Let’s assume you bring home $12.50 an hour from your current job.   A new Nintendo Wii game just released and retails for $49.99.  Are you willing to work half a day at your job to pay for a video game?  The seriousness of that question grows as you consider larger, more expensive purchases.

Let’s say your local bike shop has an awesome deal on a mountain bike you’ve had your eye on–$600 and you can ride it home from the store.  Earning $12.50 an hour it would take you over 40 hours to pay for that bicycle.  That is a week’s worth of full time employment.  There are only 52 weeks in a year.  Are you sure you want to give up one of them for a new bike?  So you see how converting the price of something to hours worked can be an effective strategy to weed out the needs from the wants.

Chapter 6:  Don’t Sell Your Soul for a Salary

I sold my soul for a salary for a long time (and not a very good salary, I might add!).  I worked for a credit card processing company, and I just hated my job.  It was a toxic environment, I didn’t believe in the work I was doing, and I was all-around miserable.  Why was I there?  Because I thought at the time it would lead to something better – more money, more perks, etc.  In this chapter Mihalik looks at the various reasons why we choose the jobs we do, and why we stay there when things go bad.

Lesson learned:  Do not choose a company/profession/position for the money–choose it because it is something you love to do.  And if you find yourself working in a job you hate, find a way to change and fast.

Chapter 9: Save 50 Percent of Your Salary

I’ve written about the 50 Percent Savings Plan before, and when thinking about it I find myself wishing I had a time machine to go back and start the plan in my twenties.  At the moment I’m devoting a large portion of my earnings to debt repayment, so saving half of my income is not feasible.  However, I fully intend to save 50% when I’m debt free.  For every year I accumulate half of my earnings I’ll earn one year of financial freedom, without a change in lifestyle.  Pretty cool idea!


Debt is Slavery was a short, enjoyable read with tons of nuggets of wisdom on repaying debt, living frugally, and finding financial freedom.  At around $13 on I consider it a steal.  It’s going on the bookshelf at home, which is rare for most books I read.  I typically send them back out into circulation via eBay, or just check them out at the library.  But not this one–it’s a keeper.


  1. I’m with Marci, I do that *all* of the time. Really helps, especially on my tiny student earnings. 🙂 I use it to evaluate the bigger purchases, and if I’m alright with having to work a week for something, I go ahead and do it. Sometimes I cheat and use only the commission part of my job to determine if I “earned” something or not. (“If I get $X in commission, I can buy Y for $Z.”)

    I’m going to try hard to save 50% of my income, I currently am. (Which, sadly, isn’t amounting to a terribly large amount, but it’s not a bad chunk of cash either.) I’m in the middle of Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek, which definitely makes me realize that while saving 50% is good, I should go ahead and spend 25% of that on present activities and perhaps save the other 25% for retirement. I love the idea of having balance to do things now instead of being on the “deferred life plan.”

  2. “2” is something I practice faithfully! Sure stops a lot of buying dead in its tracks!

    Thanks for the review!