I give JESUS the praise and glory for the below true story!
I remember when Jenn and I decided it was time to become debt-free. It was so exciting! We were so frustrated at the mess we had made, but we had hope now! We had calculated our debt-freedom date (see post from 2/15/2006 to see how to calculate yours). Our debt freedom date was 14 months away – February 2004.
What was one of our biggest motivations to become debt-free? It was the huge amount of money that was being sent out each month to pay the monthly loan payments! We asked ourselves the question – “What are we going to do with all that money once we have become debt-free?” It was so exciting just to think about the possibilities – cruises, exotic vacations, cool electronics, a new car, helping others, seed-germination heating mats, giving to worthy causes, season tickets to Purdue University football games … The list was endless. We were so amazed! To think that we could pay off everything but the house in 14 months and have access to all of that money was HOPECREATING (new word – “W” is envious)!
That HOPECREATING moment was what kicked us off toward our debt-freedom date. If we would not have had that moment, we would absolutely still be in debt – probably even more debt. Anyway, the great thing about the process of becoming debt-free is that it takes time. This means that you have to think about becoming debt-free a lot. It means that you have to maintain the intensity even when all your friends are going on a cruise together, and you can either go and be in debt for another 24 months or not go and be out of debt in 4 months. It means that the latest electronics can wait their turn for you (Ebay!).
Jenn and I thought about becoming debt-free for the entire 14 months. We made decisions that meant we would not be able to live life like we had before. We could not spend $200 a month on dining out. We could not shop at the mall and buy something every time. Do you know what we discovered? We discovered we could live without stuff. We realized that happiness cannot be bought at the mall and that home-cooked meals taste better than restaurant food anyhow.
Since it took us 14 months, our entire financial behavior changed. Guess what? The magic month arrived in February 2004, and we became debt-free!!!! We paid off a credit card, a truck loan, and a student loan. At the same time, we were also able to absorb a major surgery for Jenn that WE PAID CASH FOR.
Jenn and I now stand on the other side of the fence. We have remained debt-free for over 2 years now. Words cannot express how much better Jenn and I’s communication about our life has become. I have discovered “what I would do if I had all that money that was going out for loan payments” – give more than I ever have, save more than I ever have, and truly understand what financial peace is.