It’s been a little over a year since our family has been enjoying debt-free living. We paid off our mortgage of $320,000 in 6 years. Then we got out of the rest of our debt in another year after that. All in all, I wasn’t sure was what it would be like to live debt free. But now that I’m here, I can’t wait to tell you all about it!
I want this article to give you a glimpse into living debt free. This is exactly what I would like to have heard before we started our debt free journey.
Quick answer: Was it worth becoming debt free? Yes. 2000% YES!!!
Thinking of becoming debt free? Check out: How to Become Debt Free here.
Quick recap: The last time I wrote about being debt free it was a little over a year ago. At that point I admitted, I was feeling a bit let down by being out of debt the whole event.
That has safely passed.
I realize now that my disappointment was more about needing something new to focus on goal wise than anything else. With a year behind us becoming debt free has been completely worth it.
What is Debt Free Living Like?
Whenever I met someone who is debt free I would instantly ask them what it was like. Usually, they had been debt free for so long that they had normalized the whole debt free living thing and would just shrug and say “It’s pretty good, I guess.”
Pretty good??? You guess?!?
They undersold it.
Debt free living is amazing!
Like, ridiculously amazing.
Living debt free is like going from black and white TV to 3D-Imax-Blow-You-Out-Of-Your-Seat-Amazing.
It’s just that different.
Here’s a Great Example of Living Debt Free
Every morning, no matter what, I wake up knowing that the debt burden is no longer my problem. Debt is no longer part of my thoughts. I make my small day to day decisions based on what I want and not on how it will impact my budget.
It’s weird to say, but once you are finally debt free, only then do you realize how badly trapped you were.
I mean, we all know debt traps us. Otherwise, we wouldn’t want out. But actually getting to be debt free makes you see how debt was actually preventing you from living a much better life.
Do Heaven’s Part the Day You Become Debt Free?
Not literally, but emotionally it sure felt like it.
This is what living with debt is like and then becoming debt free:
Imagine your whole life you are walking around with a 50 lbs. weight vest (that’s your debt).
You don’t even know it’s there because you have gotten so used to it.
Every day it’s the same, you go about life and do the things you do because you are aware of your limits of this weight. You know you want to do more, but you can’t. Those limits are from the extra 50 lbs. but you aren’t sure why, because you don’t know it’s there.
Then suddenly that weight disappears.
And in that moment life changes instantly!
The next thing you know, you can run, jump, and do a thousand things that you couldn’t do yesterday. Because that weight is gone and no longer slows you down.
That’s what it’s like when you become debt free. The 50 lbs weight is gone and you have more freedom than you ever thought possible.
Financial Decisions Are Easier When You Are Living a Debt Free Life
In the process of becoming debt free, you get much better with your money. You learn to live off what you make. In doing that there is a comfort in knowing what you spend is in check from all the lean years you had paying off your debt.
It doesn’t matter if you make $2,000 a month or $20,000. At some point, you need to learn how to live on less than you make to become debt free faster.
This was the biggest takeaway in becoming debt free, now that the money we were putting on to our debt is available we don’t get stressed by the costs that come up.
Things like our washing machine smoking and needing to be replaced was handled quickly and without much decision. Because we have our reserves in place.
Even big things like deciding to go to Hawaii for 3 weeks, is decided upon pretty quickly. Because now it’s about what you have available to you. Not how much you can borrow to do something.
A Few Things About Being Debt Free You Don’t See
While the burden of debt is gone, we still have to go to work and earn our livings. It’s not financial freedom but it’s a BIG step in the right direction.
The BIG difference is the little choices we get to make along the way.
Like going out to eat. It used to be a bit of an internal conflict for me. I mean who doesn’t love to go to a restaurant, but the cost of doing it is so high.
Sprinkle the fairy dust of living debt free and we dine out whenever the mood hits us. But the truth is, we’ve learned to cook well (or at least learn to love our cooking) so before we go out a lot of the time we pass thinking we can make something just as good ourselves.
How to Live A Debt-Free Lifestyle
This was something I wasn’t familiar with when we started.
You see when you get out of debt, the first thing you want to do is celebrate with something big.
But you can’t. Because that will put you back in debt. So you have to wait and let your new debt-free lifestyle sink in. It’s not a hard thing but it does take a bit of getting used to.
Once you start this new debt-free life you will never want to go back.
Everything we do now is within our limits. Which can sound restricting, but it’s the most freeing thing ever. We have the ability to live within our means and still do the things we want.
We know what we make and what is within our current means. We don’t try to spend to prove to others that we have more than what we can afford, we are living our lives our way.
If we want more than what we have, that means either we must make more money, or save on our spending in other places. That is how we can afford the things we want.
How We Budget in Now That We Are Debt Free
We still have our money system (which you can have sent to you for free here). But we have new accounts for the bigger things we want.
As far as spending goes we have gone to a very simple system. We save one paycheck and live off one person’s salary. I’m not suggesting this is what everyone does. But we have our new goals and saving as much as we can is a part of that.
Confidence Abounds When You Are Debt Free
We have done some things I never imagined doing. Like going to Disney World for 2 weeks and doing whatever we wanted because we could safely afford it.
Or getting smarter with our spending and using credit card points to maximize our travel points. Travel is very important to us at the moment.
We Still Make Smart Money Decisions
Living debt free means that we are in control of our money. We still pick and chose what we do because we know that there are costs involved and we weight those costs against what that money could do later on.
Big Spending Decisions Are Different When You Are Debt Free
We are constantly saving up for things thanks to our money system. It’s how we budget. We know how much we want to have for travel every year so we save for that every month.
We also put money aside for other spending items like a new car, renovations and other items that we will need at some point. The decision on when we buy these is now a matter of if there is enough money in the designated account. If we have enough we can look into buying it, if not we don’t think of it until there’s enough money.
What’s the BIGGEST Differences Now That We Live a Debt-Free Lifestyle?
There are things that I have noticed in the past year that have changed. Here are some of the big ones:
- I no longer check my bank account on an hourly basis. In fact, I barely check it weekly anymore.
- There’s no need to budget down the penny. I still track our money but we have gotten so good with our spending that it rarely needs our attention
- No more heavy family budget meetings. Now it’s about what we are doing to build our wealth and what we can do for our family.
- Most importantly I don’t feel trapped anymore. Waking up to go to work to pay off my debt fuelled lifestyle was a terrible feeling. Now I enjoy work because it feels like it’s more of a choice.
Here’s My Best Debt Free Living Tips
Becoming debt free means you are a money master. You can start to enjoy life at a new level. Couple of things that I would say once you are out of debt.
- Come up with a list of everything you may want in the next few years, and start saving up for it.
- Be proud of what you have done. You don’t have to brag about it. But that doesn’t take away from what you have done.
- When you get out of debt you will think that the world is yours, and it is but within reason. Just because you beat the debt drug, doesn’t mean you want to get on that train again.
- Keep your wants in check and make sure you always have some reserves.
- Get smart with your money. Just because you can afford it don’t let that stop you looking for a better price or negotiating a good deal.
All in all Debt-Free Living is Better Than We Imagined
So that’s debt-free living in a nutshell. It took longer than we imagined but that just makes the journey even more worth doing. It’s completely worth it. I would love for you to start your debt free journey too.
If you are looking to get started you should check out our free guide to becoming debt free to help you on your way.
The biggest step is getting started. Take control and get started on your own journey.
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