12 months ago, I shared how Steve and I had made the final payment on his student loans. We’ve been officially debt free for one year! When he first came to me with his debt when we were just dating, he had over $50K in student loans and other miscellaneous outstanding bills. Woof! I can remember the first spreadsheet we ever made together and it was a beast. He worked his butt off in those first couple years and made some amazing progress.
After we got married, he still had two loans left. We were ready to go into overdrive TOGETHER to clear them out for good.
It’s pretty surreal looking back on how much we sacrificed to pay off $15K in just seven months, while also cash flowing our honeymoon to SouthEast Asia.
Over five years ago, I went on my own debt free journey. I paid off multiple credit cards and my car, all totaling around $30K. I think going through this first gave me a different outlook on the situation this time around. I knew it was 100% possible if we were focused enough.
Since my husband is new to this way of life, I sat down with him to get his opinion on how life has changed now that we are debt free. In his words, here’s what he had to say…
- Life is much easier: Not having outstanding debt gives me one less thing to factor when I make decisions. You’d be surprised how much simpler decisions can be when you aren’t married to large debt.
- I feel as if I have more options to do what I want to do (less pressure): I have way more options. Imagine planning your next week/month/year/decade around a giant debt. Best case scenario it’s a small gremlin you have to take with you. Something you feed monthly. We have way more options available now with one less mouth to feed.
- I never wake up worried and my mind is more at ease: I used to wake up and the first thing on my mind was how much money I owed and then how much work it was going to take to make those payments. Imagine being able to wake up and tell your boss to “fuck off.” That may not be a practical idea, but waking up for that 9-5 becomes a lot easier when it’s your decision to go out and get shit done. I can be proud, feel more accomplished and see my effort work towards something I want instead. It’s much more rewarding when you can take that responsibility instead of having your hand forced by an outstanding debt. I currently work for my retirement, not for past obligations.
- I have a different relationship with money: Without monumental debt, I feel like money is a tool instead of a shackle. At this point, it’s a resource to be gathered and leveraged. Previously I felt like I was the resource that was being leveraged.
- It’s more fun saving to buy things I want, and not be forced to spend my money on payments: Who likes taxes? Imagine not having to deduct that extra tax in your paycheck every month. It’s way more fun imposing a retirement tax or a new computer tax rather than a student loan tax.
- I notice more savings progress: I was able to delete the bookmark folder called “Billz.” No more time is spent verifying payments and accuracy and progress with despicable loan companies. No more time trying to track down where my loans were sold to. Instead, it’s a quick login to the savings accounts. The longer I wait to look at the savings account, the more impressive it is when I check.
We’ve been able to look forward to our future in a totally different way in the past year. There are so many new options and possibilities that would have not been there if we were tied to debt.
There are a few big things about being debt free that stand out to me:
It’s not “normal”: Money is a sensitive topic for many—especially when debt has been in their life for so long. Many don’t understand that freedom from debt is even an option or they still believe that there is such a thing as “good debt.” It can be hard to relate to people and even harder to give them hope for a way out. I mean come on, between the two of us, we paid off over 80K in debt. If we can do it, YOU CAN.
Savings Builds Quickly: One of the best perks to being debt free is that you can save and invest easily. Just as Steve has mentioned above, it’s way more fun to save for things that you want to do/buy, such as traveling or buying a new audio-video receiver for your speaker system—we just got one and it’s awesome, you can control everything right on your phone! When we are funneling money all over the place—to paying debts, bills and trying to save at the same time— it’s hard to make progress on any one thing alone.
Outlook on Working is Different: Steve mentioned this earlier, but I think it’s extremely important. I experienced this greatly when I first became debt free and was working at a 9 to 5 job. The moment I was free from debt, I walked into work with a completely different mindset. “I want to be here, I don’t have to be.” That alone is HUGE. So many people hate their jobs but feel completely chained to it. Work should feel meaningful and lift you up, not drag you down over and over again. Since working is such a big part of our lives, I feel as if this factor is one of the most powerful to becoming debt free.
Are you working towards a debt-free lifestyle? Comment below =)
“Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.” – Oprah
Thanks for reading,