There are times where I feel that millennials believe that striving for a debt free lifestyle is just plain stupid. If you ask me, I would say the idea is actually pretty great.
Once you get into the groove of paying off your debt, you’ll see how easy it actually is! So, I say you should try it!
I’m about to share with you all the “aha” moment that J and I experienced, which prompted us to pursue a debt free lifestyle. Since embarking on this financial journey, we’ve never looked back.
Imagine This for a Moment
You’re cruising along the California coast in a fancy Porsche (or any other luxury vehicle of your choice). You’ve got the windows rolled down as you breathe in the smooth scent of the sandy beaches.
The wind catches you suddenly as you feel the warmth of the sun beating down on your skin. But wait…there’s more. It’s a Monday and you aren’t even working! Ahhhh, wonderful thought, isn’t it?
Then suddenly, you hear this nagging voice in the back of your mind whispering, “You have to go back to work in ten days”.
The Long Overdue Vacation
Well, a little over two years ago, J and I were living the exact scenario that I’ve just painted for you above. As for that Porsche? It belonged to my parents. No way could I afford a ride like that!! Certainly not now, anyway.
It was May of 2015 when we both decided that it was time to take a trip back to my hometown. I hadn’t been back to the Golden State since moving out to the Midwest in 2012. So this was one of those long overdue vacations that had to happen.
Anyway, while we were on that drive passing by the beaches, million dollar homes, and people “showing off” their expensive vehicles, a conversation about money and debt began to brew.
I asked J the following question, “Can you imagine what it would be like to wake up every day and walk to the beach?”. I tend to ask random questions a lot and I wanted an affirmative answer on this one.
However, the response I got was more along the lines of, “Yes, but we don’t make enough money or that”. **insert confused look on my face** We don’t make enough money!?
At the time, we were both pretty much locked into decent paying jobs, where promotions seemed to be more lateral rather than climbing the corporate ladder. So I knew something had to be done if I ever wanted to afford to live on that sandy beach some day.
First things first, get rid of our debt! And we had a ton of it, over $70,000 combined! Ugh.
This is where our journey began.
No Time for Complaining or Comparing
Rather than whining about the amount of debt that we had and comparing our financial situation to our colleagues, we got serious. We have been in debt for years and we absolutely hated its guts. So together, J and I created a goal: To become completely debt free (except for the house) by 2020.
[side note: this goal will be achieved by late 2017 (maybe early 2018!) fingers crossed.]
For the remainder of that vacation, I spent a decent amount of my time trying to figure out ways to stretch any cash that we had on hand. Sharing meals and avoiding trips to the mall whenever possible helped a great deal.
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I guess you could say I was already in “go-mode” before heading back home. I sort of got ahead of myself there.
Having a clear goal was the easy part (to get rid of our debt). It was actually following through with that goal which was going to be tricky. So once we got back home, we set a strategy in motion: adopt the debt snowball method.
We arranged our debts in order from smallest to largest despite the interest rates (this method is NOT for everyone, but it worked great for us), set a budget, and began selling anything and everything in sight that was no longer needed in our home (my favorite side hustle).
At the end of the month, any extra money that we had laying around, went straight to our huge pile of debt. Which meant, no buying fancy things. *There was a point when we became pregnant and had to stop the debt snowball and save, save, save. You can read more about that here*.
However, the debt snowball only lasted for a season for us. We quickly realized that experiencing those small debt payoff wins were no longer needed to keep us on this track. So we shifted course and began paying off our debt via the debt avalanche method. Which is the paying off of debts from the highest dollar amount to lowest, despite interest rates.
You’ve got to find what works best for you.
How Far We Have Come
After months of strict budgeting, side hustling, and prioritizing our finances, we have paid off just over $50,000 of our debt! This included paying off all $27,000 in my student loans!!
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In addition to that, we have also managed to pay off our one remaining vehicle. NO MORE CAR PAYMENTS!
To our surprise, it only took us two years to accomplish paying off this amount of debt! As the saying goes: if we can do it, so can you.
Our current goal is to pay off the remainder of our debt (a little over $21,000) by the end of this year. Which may actually lead into the beginning of 2018, but that is totally fine.
Once all of our debt is paid off, we will then focus on tackling our mortgage and plan to pay it off early.
Knowing that one day my family will be able to live a life with absolutely no debt gives me that extra push to keep going. No sense in stopping now!
So, the next time you see me in a Porsche, I’ll probably be heading to my family vacation home in the Golden State. Which would be conveniently placed alongside a sandy beach, somewhere in California.
Ok, ok. Maybe that’s a stretch, but I will say that had it not been for that conversation that happened two years ago, we likely would not be in the positive financial situation that we are in, today.
What was your “aha” moment? When did you realize debt was not the way to live your life?
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