I can’t believe that the day has finally come where I can say “I’M DEBT FREEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!” Officially, as of November 1st, my husband and I are free from any kind of debt, including our mortgage. For the past two and a half years we have been budgeting every extra penny available to throw at the principal of our home.
When we started in June of 2011:
Our completed visual aid: November 2013
I learned that there was no easy answer to becoming debt-free. The answer is not a loan consolidation, an extra credit card, or even making more money (for some people, mo’ money = mo’ problems.)
The following is what my Husband and I learned on this journey to financial freedom:
1. It takes hard work. You don’t just “kind of” decide to become debt free. You either do it or you don’t. We attacked the debt as if someone lit a flame under us. We were very inspired by the phrase that Dave Ramsey uses “Work like no one else, so that later, you can work like no one else.” For us, this meant working overtime like it was going out of style. There would be plenty of times where my husband would have over 100 extra hours on a paycheck. At first, I didn’t have this kind of opportunity for extra work, so I got a second nursing job that paid more and made it happen.
2. You Need A Budget……literally. For me, budgeting always meant restriction, confinement, a straight jacket and arm restraints. I stopped being a Mrs. Complainey pants and tried the darn budget. The budget has brought a new level of communication and intimacy to our marriage. At the end of every month, we sit down and calculate the money earned that month. We then budget every single dollar and how we will spend it the following month. I have noticed that I no longer feel guilty about buying things for myself. I figure that as long as I stay within the terms of the budget that we both decided upon, then I can buy what I want. I can even buy Tommy’s chili cheese fries at midnight if my heart desires 😉 Once you get on a budget, you feel like you get a pay raise. We started tracking our spending in all areas and couldn’t believe how much money we were wasting each month on things like dining out or shopping at costco! When we put a limit on it, we had more money for other things. I would love to personally thank Jesse, the dude that invented the budgeting app that we use: YNAB. It was actually fun to use the program and track our net worth along the way. Thanks Jesse the folks at YNAB!
3. I don’t need “things” to be content. I feel like this whole experience has transformed the way I perceive money, time, and happiness. I don’t feel like I NEED anything else in this world to make me feel content. I have realized that I have MORE THAN ENOUGH and some: I have a wonderful husband, a healthy baby on the way, my health, wonderful family and friends, a roof over my head, running water, a job, and a God that loves me. I don’t need things to be happy. For example, I used to go shopping for “fun.” Now, the things I do for “fun” aren’t as costly: running, spending time with my friends and family, beating my husband mercilessly at backgammon, spending time at the beach, playing piano, and writing this blog. When we cut the excess stuff out of our budget, I realized that I didn’t need it to begin with.
Being debt-free is exciting for us because:
Now, I’m working because I want to.
Now, we have greater control over our finances (no big monthly payments.)
Now, we can send our kids to college.
Now, we can retire early.
Now, I no longer associate happiness with material things.
Now, I have more time to do the things I want.
Now, I am no longer a slave to anything.
Today, between 11am-12pm Pacific Time, we will be making our “Debt-free Scream” on air with Dave Ramsey, check it out if you get a chance!
Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day!