Whether you are young or old, you don’t want any part of debt.

When you’re young, you have your entire life in front of you. As you get older, you want to enjoy your friends and family without being burdened by money issues.

Living with debt is like walking around with chains around your neck. Your choices are restricted. You lack freedom. And that’s just no way to live.

Eventually, borrowing money and reckless spending will catch up with you, and those decisions will have an effect on the rest of your life. How can you make a difference in the world if you’re stressed about paying back loans and credit cards?

Think about this: What could you do with the money you’re currently using to pay back student loans, credit cards and car payments? Think about all the ways you could take That’s why it’s so important to get out of debt as quickly as you can. The quicker you can get Visa to stop breathing down your neck, the quicker you’ll be able to take that $300-a-month payment and put it toward something meaningful, like retirement, investing and charity.

You don’t have to stop dreaming about changing the world while you’re in debt, but it’s much more difficult to act on that dream when you have several banks waiting on their money from you each month.

That’s why, no matter where you are in life, it’s important to begin making smart decisions that allow you to stay out of debt. Get on a budget. Cut up and stop using credit cards. Live on less than you make.

All of those daily decisions will eventually bring you to a debt-free life, where you’ll be free to pursue your dreams and make an impact without worrying about the consequences of debt.

Never forget that debt isn’t a tool. Cash—that’s actual money, not credit—is a tool.