Most people find personal debt to be normal, but I decided to buck that trend and become debt free. Now I have more money to commit to the things that matter most. You can have that freedom too.
Becoming debt free wasn’t a goal for me at first.
During my freshman year of college, I had amassed over $9,000 in student loan debt. Part of the loan amount was a personal loan from my dad and stepmom. They wanted to help me pay for school, but they didn’t want to give me the money. They wanted me to earn my education and they thought this would be the best way to do it.
We agreed to a monthly payment plan that would start immediately once school began. The monthly payment was meager and due dates were flexible.
During my first semester, I didn’t keep up with my money very well. I spent too much and I never kept a monthly budget. By the end of the first semester, I couldn’t make the loan payment.
My family gave me a lot of grace once I confessed that I wouldn’t be making my payments. But still, the feeling of letting my family down was debilitating and haunted me for weeks.
I never wanted to experience this feeling again. So, while driving around town aimlessly on December 12th, 2013, I made a goal to pay off my entire student loan debt by my 20th birthday (or in about 15 months). Through a lot of hard work and dedication, I paid off all of my debt in about 15 months.
The best feeling out of this was being able to give my family a big check for the debt. The payment symbolized a lot to me. I didn’t have to have this clot of angst over me when I would visit home, worrying about whether or not I could make my next payment.
But becoming debt free has led to more freedoms in my life as well. I now can:
- Save more. Since I no longer have payments to make, I can then save that money for other things (such as a new car, a house purchase, or home furnishings)
- Invest in retirement. The money I was using to service my debt can now be investing into a Roth IRA.
- Give to others more. Becoming debt free has made me a stronger giver than I was before. The extra cash on hand can lead to more organized giving.
- Take more risks in my career. Since I don’t have many ‘real’ bills to worry about, I can move between employers in order to find the best fit for me.
- Plan for the future. Debt kept me focused on the short term. Now that I’m debt free, it’s much easier to establish long-term goals and work towards an envisioned future.
- Take more trips. I now have more margin to take nicer trips throughout the year.
You could experience more financial margin in your life too.
What Could You Do If You Became Debt Free?
What could I do with my extra money if I didn’t have to make a car payment anymore? Where could I go if I eliminated my student loan debt? How could I add to my life by cutting out MasterCard
With an extra couple hundred dollars a month saved, you could go on a week long vacation to the Caribbean in a few short months. Or go to that concert you always wanted to. Or finally go on that mission trip you’ve always wanted to take. The possibilities are endless.
While becoming debt free can feel insurmountable, I’m here to tell you that it can be done. Start with a simple goal and work gradually towards paying off one debt at a time. Make a few small life spending changes and watch the extra savings add up.
Becoming debt free is possible. Take action today and work to becoming debt free.
Question: What would be the first thing you would do with your extra money if you became debt free?