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Livin’ the Debt-Free Life

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My friend’s surprise visit earlier this week was so very welcome. He only ended up staying less than a day (because of his airport delay troubles), so the visit was way too short. One day, we’ll be debt-free and can afford to pay him a visit.

That leads into an article I caught my eye this week. J.D. asked his readers “How to Live Debt-Free”.

J.D.’s been working to get his finances in order and he’s scheduled to be debt-free by Christmas. He’s curious about the transition from working to become debt-free to living debt-free. How much do you relax with your frugal ways? How many indulgences do you give in to?

As you can see from what I wrote earlier, I already equate being debt-free with having more freedom to spend money on life experiences. I’d love to be able to visit my friend out in the West and maybe even visit the ocean. Knowing me, it’d still be a very frugal trip, but it would still be an indulgence. I think there is a happy place that one should find once their debt is paid off. You want to spend money to experience life, yet still save some money to secure your financial future.

Exactly where that happy place is, I’m not sure. I have a while to think about it more before we are debt-free 😉


15 Comments

  • Reply S |

    It’s interesting that you speculate on when you’re debt free that you don’t mention anything about building a greater savings/retirement nest egg.

  • Reply jason |

    Hi Tricia,

    Once you’re debt free, don’t take that as a signal that you’re free to splurge again, or you’ll end up back in debt. Instead, focus on the next phase, saving for retirement. That’s not to say you should deprive yourself of nice things, but, do splurge only with money left over after you’ve set aside enough savings for retirement (or your child’s college education). However, I think you’ll enjoy planning and learning about investing when that time comes.

  • Reply Rob in Madrid |

    Jason, very good point, it’s easy to slip back into bad habits. That’s why I try to keep my focus on living frugally rather than getting out of debt. I let my debt snowball run and focus on getting savings else where in the budget. Over time our debts will disappear and we’ll be used to living on less.

    Good example, my Wife got a bigger annual bonus than expected and were tempted to spend more. but it’s all going into savings (and some to debt reduction) and a very small amount to spending. My Wife after a year of waiting is finally getting a cross trainer to replace the exercise bike she’s been using for years (and yes she does actually use the equipment)

  • Reply JW Thornhill |

    My wife and I just had a long conversation about this because, she was having a very difficult time with not being able to purchase items or things that she wanted when she wanted and seeing me take 80% to 90% of my check to pay down our current debt was difficult for her.

    Thanks for the post.

  • Reply DC Smith |

    Actually S, she did mention securing her financial future there at the end. Given how much she is paying on the debt now, I think there will be plenty left for retirement, college, full e-fund, and spending on other things.

    I’ve heard that experiences are definitely the most bang for the buck when it comes to spending. And just imagine going on a trip without having to even once consider which card has the lowest rate or highest limit or how much bigger the minimum payment(s) will be on all the cards when you get home. That makes coming home almost as much fun as going away.

    I bet at first you might find it hard to loosen the purse strings too much. Once the cc bills are gone you’ll just divert that income to get the e-fund fully stocked thinking once that’s done then you’ll spend.

    Oh, wait, now that the e-fund is up to snuff we need to get the 401(k)/IRA caught up a little, but then the blowout.

    Oh, and the college fund. Let’s get that off to a good start then off we go!

    But you know, a Roth IRA might not be such a bad idea either. And shouldn’t we be giving something back? Ten percent seems like a common number.

    Not to mention the house could use some maintenance we deferred when we were working off the debt. Let’s take care of that. Then par-taay!

    Although… we’ll probably need a newer car in three years. Should we set aside something for that in the budget each month?

    Next thing you know, you have more statements in the mailbox for retirement/investment/college/savings accounts than you ever had for credit cards and loans (except the balances are black now instead of red), you’re sending more to Modest Needs than you used to spend on groceries for yourself, and there’s STILL money going into savings that isn’t earmarked even though you now buy luxuries like Deluxe mac and cheese.

  • Reply Hoto |

    debt is always a bad thing and i real know what i am talking about. when everything will be ok then i be out of debt in 2 more years. i work hard on that and hope a little money from blogging will help me too. in germany is a program you can join to lose all of your debt in seven years. i don´t like that to much because people think like this. debt is no problem because when i cannot pay it back i just join the program and after 7 years i am out of that. what they don´t think about is the way they gona feel when the have a lot of debt and people come to there house and want their money back. that can really pull you down. i have big respect for all people that work hard and pay their debt off. keep on working !!!

  • Reply Fabulously Broke |

    I’d probably loosen up a bit on the purse strings… but to me, it’s like a game to see how far I can get ahead…

    Husband’s the one that pulls in the reins, gives me a reality check and tells me to enjoy life. 🙂

    Besides, I just know we’ll be getting a house in the future and I’ll have another debt to pay down lol..

  • Reply MVP |

    Yes, daydreaming about what a debt-free future holds is so much fun! It’s absolutely amazing when it turns into a reality. Simply by delaying pleasure for a couple of years (to focus on paying off $40K in debt), my husband and I are now able to go to far-flung family events, (frugal) vacations and replace worn-out appliances – not to mention contribute more toward retirement and emergency fund. So worth it!

    @ Jason, this isn’t necessarily “splurging” as it’s all paid-for out-of-pocket with thought and planning.

  • Reply Eva |

    I love this line:
    “. . .even though you now buy luxuries like Deluxe mac and cheese.”

    It’s hard for me *not* to look at more expensive luxuries when I think I have a little more $$ available. Next thing I know, I’ll only want mac and cheese from the Four Seasons room service menu. Thankfully we’re nowhere near that kind of extravagance.

  • Reply boomie |

    Marcie,
    Thanks for the nod. People think that once they are debt free all will be peaches and creme. You have no idea the pressure you will be under to spend again. It takes a big heap of personal strength NOT to reach for a credit card and save up for a purchase instead. I went debt free first in 1987 and was good for 12 years UNTIL I got this $1500 MasterCard in the mail. DH and I took a vacation, because we deserved it for being so good and the debt started to snowball again. Before long we were taking our car loans etc. and wound up in debt once again by 2000. Only this time we’re older and couldn’t pay it back so quick.
    Well, two strikes so far and the third one will deal us out. That thought alone keeps us on the straight and narrow.
    You can read my blog at:
    http://wastrelshow.blogspot.com

  • Reply Joseph Sangl |

    I have found that becoming debt-free made me much more focused on long-term objectives. I am WAY less distracted by short-term inconveniences or issues.

    I LOVE being debt free!!!

  • Reply Mrs. Micah |

    I hope I’ll be quite generous. And go in for experiences, as you plan to. Not acquire, but enjoy what I have and enjoy not having to worry about whether I can afford, say, an occasional date night.

  • Reply Janet |

    No offense intended, but my goodness this post is rather depressing. You have sadly limited vision, goals, and world views. Sure, in the short-term go ahead and dream about getting out of debt and being able to travel a bit more to visit family. But, have some vision for your life! You won’t achieve more than you imagine yourself achieving. Imagine yourself building wealth (rather than just scraping by a little more comfortably), imagine yourself traveling the world if that’s what you want (rather than a sad little trip to the coast), etc. Set out to give back to the world and leave it a better place than how you found it. Get out of thinking like a poor person whose mind hasn’t left the midwest.

  • Reply Tricia |

    Janet – no offense taken.

    I do have visions and they do involve leaving the world a better place than how I found it. I don’t discuss them on here. I don’t discuss them with anyone. I don’t mention them because I don’t want anyone shooting them down because they help keep me going.

    I understand what you are saying about having broader vision. Please just know that there is always more to a story.

So, what do you think ?