During my debt-free journey I learned a lot -- about myself, handling my finances and seeing a goal through to the end. But I think the biggest thing I learned was how strange life would be after debt.
My experience this past year has been similar to my experience of paying down debt, in that it takes a lot of discipline, and out-of-the-box type of thinking.
Being in debt is a normalcy in this society, so getting -- and staying -- out of debt is a crazy new thing altogether. You're definitely going against the grain on this path.
So has it been worth it? What lessons have I learned after being debt-free for one year?
1. Sacrifice is Empowering
After working multiple jobs, starting a freelance business and sludging through a day job that I really disliked, I came out on the other end a winner. The rewards to being debt-free are obvious -- more money, inner peace and financial freedom.
And the intangible benefits too! The biggest advantage to sacrificing and completing your goal is that you followed through and can now reap the rewards of your journey.
Now anytime I face a difficult financial problem or life choice, I think back to when I had debt and know that I can accomplish anything that's thrown my way!
2. Financial Freedom is Boring
Before I paid off all my debt, my decisions consisted of multiple questions and complicated strategies.
- Which bills should I pay first?
- Which one has the highest interest rate?
- Should I take this vacation or use the money towards debt?
The list goes on. But now, my decisions are much simpler. I pay my bills, put money into savings and investing, then use whatever funds are left for entertainment or other financial goals.
Once you're out of debt, the decision making process is rather boring. There aren't any complicated financial spreadsheets (like tracking debt snowballs or debt avalanches). There's just simply living within your means.
It's an awesome perk in my opinion! But if you're someone who likes living on the edge, you'll find that having full control of your finances, may not be quite as exciting as you'd think.
Slow and steady wins the race, and in a world of endless promotions and crazy financial endeavours, the road to financial freedom is simple and boring.
3. Going Into Debt (Again) is EASY
Like I mentioned, life after debt can be daunting. When everything around you is tempting you to spend more, it's hard to constantly say no.
This is especially true once you have all your debts paid and the creditors are all but knocking down your door with new credit card offers and incentives. It's ridiculous how easy it is to charge a few purchases on credit and end up in a couple hundred or thousand dollars of debt again.
Even when you have the discipline to get out of debt, you have to remain disciplined to stay out of it. Just because you paid everything off doesn't mean you don't still have the urge to spend or buy new things!