Income and savings, and associated spending, drive success towards financial independence and achieving early retirement. Debt, on the other hand, is the wildcard. It can completely cripple any chance of reaching financial or, it can be an accelerant and turbo charge the dollars coming in the door. I view debt in five separate buckets. They are mortgage, credit card, student loans, auto loans, and other. Mortgage. Mortgage is a term that that describes a loan for a piece of real estate. Most folks know a mortgage as the bill they pay each month to keep their house. There are various types of mortgages available, and each have their benefits and drawbacks. We will go into home loan options more in Level 2. The average American has mortgage loan that totals $173,995 (https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/average-credit-card-debt-household). Or in other words, their name is on a sheet of paper, but the bank owns $173,995 worth of the house they live in. When I talk to people, most say they “own” their home, or that they are a “home owner”. In reality, they only own a fraction of the home they reside in. For most folks, the bank owns the majority of their home. Over time, if they continue to make mortgage payments, they will eventually “own” their home once the debt is fully paid off. Total mortgage debt in the US sits at a staggering $8.74 trillion.