Broke, Busted and Disgusted – Can We Spare Students This Fate?

Adam Carroll is a longtime friend and colleague from Des Moines who is dedicated to teaching people to be more financially literate. He has a campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds to finalize his documentary about the student debt loan epidemic in America called Broke, Busted & Disgusted. Please consider donating!

Financial literacy is an important topic for students I meet at Choose2Matter LIVE events. A group of students from East Greenwich High School is working to make financial literacy part of the core curriculum in RI.

I met with Adam recently and, given the critical importance of this topic, I asked him to submit this guest post.


I spend a good part of my year speaking on college campuses, teaching students the virtue of living below their means, only borrowing what they absolutely need, and going after scholarships like it’s their job. My passion is helping young professionals succeed faster by finding their passion, and having the wherewithal to go after it.

Yet, year after year, I see colleges and universities graduate students who have no real clue what they aspire to, and to boot are tens of thousands of dollars in debt. The payments on the debt require many of them to take jobs they wouldn’t otherwise have taken, and within a few years they seem lost in their own reality. Many of them ignoring or at the very least keeping their unique gifts in reserve.

What if we could liberate their genius through their finances?

I maintain that we each possess an “inner knower” that innately knows our God-given talents, our special gifts, and our unique calling. As a speaker I once heard said, “we are on this earth, not to be employed, but to be deployed.” Yet it’s the lucky few who actually realize what their deployment is. The rest of humanity seems to be going to work because it ‘just seems like the thing to do’ and we’ve got bills to pay.

In America, we graduate from high school feeling very proud of ourselves. If we follow the oft-given advice of going to college, we are ascribing to the notion that you need a degree to succeed. In the process of getting a degree, we rack up a large amount of debt – the average of which for most graduates is $29,200 but can be as much as $80-90,000 for some.

Once we land the job (either in our field of major or more often not), we then begin to “lifestyle up”. We acquire stuff to fill homes because in large part it’s expected, and it makes us happier (for awhile). We see our neighbors and family who are buying new things and we legitimize that we should probably be doing the same. And as we follow the heavily beaten path, our debt grows and grows.

It is a firm belief of mine that we have Four Legacies to leave future generations. It starts with

  • financial freedom, which leads to
  • time freedom, which leads to
  • relationship freedom, which leads to
  • service freedom.

What our inner-knower knows is that we were put here to be of service to someone or something. However, the debt begins to cloud our ability to see “the genius”. We start working to live instead of living to share our genius with the world. For many, something is missing, but they’re not exactly sure what.

Real freedom comes from doing what you love and being content doing it. Content with your time, with your money, with your relationships, and content with the fact that you are leveraging the service you were put here for. Financial freedom is something most Americans will never achieve, and as a result, may never be able to pursue their passions at the level to which they’d like.

Let’s make a drastic correction with the next generation.

My children’s financial education is one of the most important things I can impart on them as a parent. Though we’re allegedly living “better lives” than generations past, I would argue that we’re simply living “better lifestyles.” My grandparents had significantly fewer niceties, but they had enormously more freedom. Isn’t it time we tried trading a bigger lifestyle for a bigger LIFE?

The questions my wife and I are pondering as we look at financing college for our 3 children is will college be worth it? And is college the answer for them? The growth in tuition is skyrocketing, and by the time they are ready to go may cost upwards of $250,000 per child (for a state school no less). That kind of investment could buy an apartment complex that would take care of all of us financially for the rest of forever. And most importantly, allow our children the freedom to pursue their genius.

My challenge to you is teach your children every facet of money you wish your parents would have told you. Liberate their genius from the bondage of debt. Focus on providing them the tools to become more, not the toys that make them want more. And while I have no doubt you’ll get push back, and comments about all the other kids getting this or that, imagine a future society full of liberated geniuses free from financial pressures. Your children will be walking out the God-given gift their inner-knower told them about – the ultimate service freedom.


Adam Carroll is the co-author of the book Winning The Money Game, the co-founder of Succeed Faster Seminars, and the Chief Education Officer of National Financial Educators. To find out more about Adam, check out

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  • rayfilwong

    As the CEO of Professor Savings, I know first hand how debt can be our ball and chain. Injecting financially literacy is a must. Every $1 created in the United States results in $5 debt. visit our site, hope it helps. TGIF

  • Computek Int

    Thanks for sharing
    I appreciate it.

  • Computek Int

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    Please feature it if you are writing article on Educational Technology Software.

  • Emma Elwell

    Dear Angela Maiers,

    My name is Emma Elwell and I am an EDM310 student at the university of your blog. It is so important to know about safe money decisions and debt. I will take this blog post into use and hopefully can use this knowledge to give to my children and students one day! Thank you, I enjoyed the read!

    Emma Elwell

  • Sarah Richerson

    Hi Angela! Thank you for sharing this post from Adam Carroll. I firmly believe in this message. Thankfully I had parents that preached “live below your means,” but most kids aren’t taught that at home. I will be a math teacher in about a year and I plan to discuss with my students the aspects of financial literacy. I think finances are a great way to show how math is applicable to our everyday lives! Hopefully, these students will then be better prepared to manage their finances in their adult lives.

    Sarah Richerson

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  • Rob Condon – Lingotronic

    I agree with so much of this article and the general issue. However I can also see that we mostly come to realize what is happening just by experience, and influencing people at the early stages of life is hard. If only I knew then, what I know now.

  • william
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