Being debt free matters
now more than ever, but it has always mattered. As the world currently faces a Pandemic not seen in our lifetime, I can’t help but wonder how I would feel if I were debt free. What if my only financial concerns were to buy food and pay the utility bills? Would it bother me I’ve not been allowed to work or earn money for over two months now, with at least a couple more weeks to go?
Debt does not have to last forever.
Contrary to popular belief, not everyone has debt. It is possible to be debt free, and grow substantial savings. I’ve always known this in my soul, but was not experiencing that freedom in my life. I was terrified, and sought concrete guidance and structure to lead me out of my financial disaster.
I am not a natural spender. I am a saver, had no debt, and never paid a penny in interest prior to getting married. When I got married we did what a lot of newlyweds do. We bought a house we couldn’t afford. My late husband was going to school full time, and not working. Our financial plans were inadequate, and naive at best. Our unrealistic budget caused our debt to spiral out of control.
While driving and running errands, I stumbled onto a radio show that resonated with me. There was this guy on the radio going through his baby steps on how to climb out of debt, and be debt free, forever.
Most financial radio shows talk about investments,
the stock market, and gobbledygook I don’t understand. Quite frankly, it bores me because I cannot relate to anything they’re saying. These shows might be great if you need advice on diversifying your portfolio…but what if you don’t have a portfolio? Or, worse yet, what if you have a debt portfolio? I was not concerned about investing. I needed a process to get out of debt forever.
This radio talk show was different. Regular people, people who could have been me, were calling and asking relatable questions. And every answer included not borrowing money. The theme of the show was to be debt free, and never borrow money again.
Borrowing money to cover the monthly shortfall
for bills had become our way of life. Every advance from the credit card, or line of credit was soul crushing. There was never enough in the checking account to pay the countless bills.
I always believed I was good with money, though prior to home ownership and marriage my financial responsibilities were few. We were living in a house we couldn’t afford, and tried to normalize the debt. Debt never felt normal. It was like walking with a rock in my shoe, a lash in my eye, or an elephant on my chest. The weight of the debt was crushing me, and there was no end in sight.
I assumed time would take care of our debt.
Eventually we’d grow into our expenses and be able to afford our lifestyle. Truth be told, increased income did not erase the debt. We even moved up in house, and more than doubled a mortgage that we already couldn’t afford.
So when I heard people on the radio ask the same questions I would have asked if I were calling, I knew I was in the right place. The host talked about baby steps. I looked up baby steps online, and bought his book that detailed them. I was all in. (This post contains affiliate links. Read here for more info)
If you are a Dave Ramsey fan,
then you know I’m talking about his show. If you’ve not heard of him, let me introduce you. He is a tough love kind of guy, and shows no mercy for borrowing money. His book “The Total Money Makeover” is the most life changing financial book I have ever read. Had I known of him sooner, I’d be debt free!
Even if debt has become normal in our society, why would you want to be normal? It is so important to not be in debt. The borrower is slave to the lender, and I’m tired of being a slave to debt.
The 7 baby steps
in Dave Ramsey’s book “The Total Money Makeover” are:
I highly suggest reading The Total Money Makeover to get more details on each of the steps.
There is also a Baby Step 3b, which is where you’d pile up money for a down payment on a home. His guidelines for purchasing a home include a 15 year fixed mortgage, where they payment is no more than 25% of your take home pay.
After immersing myself
in “The Total Money Makeover” and creating a realistic budget, my mindset about money changed radically. While I always hated debt, and it never felt normal, my feelings about it were finally validated. The “everyone has a student loan, or car loan, or mortgage”, just didn’t ring true anymore. Not everyone has to take out a loan when they want or need something.
My 65 inch, 25+ year old plasma TV died
January 1st. I moved my 38″ guest room TV into my large 450 square foot living room. The TV was dwarfed by the size of the room. And you know what? I didn’t care. I moved my sofa closer to the TV, and it worked just fine.
Did I want a new 65 inch flat screen with fabulous sound and crisp color? Yes I did. Would I go into debt to get it? Um, NO. I sold some items and started a “new TV” fund. I waited for a huge sale, and finally purchased it, paying cash.
In my previous life, I would have bought a new TV,
and figured out later how to pay for it. Aren’t most of us guilty of this? We “need” something, and just get it. Credit cards make buying so easy, which in turn makes amassing debt so easy.
“Live debt free” is the best advice I’ve ever heard. Pay as you go, or don’t go. While it is easy to get into debt with countless avenues available for borrowing money, it is not a new problem. The quote, “The borrower is slave to the lender” comes from the Bible. We know this problem has been around for over 2000 years!
When you are debt free, no one owns you
anymore. If you hate your job, or your boss is a tyrant, you can just quit. You no longer have to knuckle under pressure because you need that paycheck.
If you don’t feel well, you can go to the doctor and not worry that the bills will put you into bankruptcy. By the way, medical debt accounts for 2/3rds of all bankruptcies in the United States, followed by job loss and excessive use of credit.
Being debt free may seem impossible, but it’s not.
Being debt free matters because emergencies happen. You cannot predict an emergency surgery, or death of a spouse, or a pandemic. Debt not only robs you of your income, but it steals your ability to focus on the emergency itself, because you’re worried about your bills. Being debt free gives you choices, and freedom you won’t have otherwise.
There are specific steps to paying off debt quickly and permanently. It starts with a proven, structured plan. Add discipline to implement it, and tenacity to stick with it, and it will happen.
How about you? Are you debt free, or do you believe you can become debt free? I’d love to hear your comments on my Facebook page at Elaine’s Lane. Sign up below for my newsletter, and get access to the Freebie Resource Library with more helpful information regarding living a debt free life.