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The positive effects of paying off debt

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Debt sucks. You work hard for your money and watching it go to someone else is no fun. But it is such an overwhelming cycle and no matter how many self-help books and blogs you read, experts you listen to and advice you get, it’s a hard habit to break. The only thing worse than debt is when you’re in debt and not in control of it. I’ve been there for a very long time and finally feel like I’m beginning to see the light. I never want to go back.

I made minimum payments but never came up with a plan to pay it off. It has been incredibly stressful. To add to it, I went through a divorce, adopted a couple of kids, bought and sold way too many cars and had lots of job challenges. Years later, I’ve finally come up with a plan, got my mind right and I’m happy to say I am making great progress and feeling better than I have in years. There have been many amazing side effects from paying my debt off.

Emotional Well Being

There is an indescribable feeling that comes with having full control over your money. When you finally know how much is coming in and going out, is an amazingly peaceful feeling. The anxiety goes away. Though it’s never fun sitting down to calculate debt, it’s necessary and brings a sense of control when you finally know. As you start paying your debt down it just feels good, an accomplishment that you can see as you log into your accounts.

You Have More of Your Money

As your debt is paid off, more of your money is actually yours. Now that I’ve paid off the bulk of my consumer debt, I can really plan how to use my money.

You Appreciate What You Have

When you’re not in a situation to drop a wad of cash on new clothes for example, you appreciate what you have much more. You become resourceful too. There were times I thought I needed something but many times made do without whatever it was. Once the debt is gone, and I have more disposable income, I know my appreciation for things (including my money), will stay. I will always choose quality, but be a conscious consumer.

Getting started is hard, breaking those bad habits, sacrificing in the now for the future is hard, but facing your debts will be one of the best decisions you ever make.

What was the best thing that came from paying your debt off?

Transitioning from High Cost of Living to…Middleish

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We’re broke. The budget is TIGHT and it’s going to be that way for at least a couple more weeks until we recoup the money we invested in the remodel to sell our house. I’m moving money around in budget categories and it’s becoming terribly obvious how high the cost of living is in San Diego.

Let’s start with the Utilities. We have one utility company in San Diego. Not a lick of competition. Texas? There are seemingly endless companies willing to sell you power who are willing to find you the best deal possible based on how you consume it. My electric bill this month? $52. And my Texas house is 50% larger with more lights. In San Diego, I counted my blessings if it was under $150 but it was generally over $250, sometimes well over $300. The current bill is $82 for my house in San Diego with nothing plugged in and no one living there. Unfortunately I have to leave the power on until the new owners take possession but I’m still coming out $18 under budget. That’s not even talking about internet (50% less) or water (25% less). We still don’t have cable TV and, even though it’s way cheaper here, we have no plans to get it.

Groceries. I’m consistently $100 – $200 under my average San Diego spend. This is very noticeable in pork prices (heads up Cali…pork is going to be completely unaffordable come March. Stock up now). The crazy part is, because of my recent health crisis, I’ve had to drastically modify my diet to whole foods which are expensive yet, I’m still able to stay under budget.

Gas. Yeah. It’s pretty much half price in Texas. These days, I get very upset if I have to pay over $3 in Texas. In San Diego, as long as it was under $5, I was happy. To make matters even better, I live less than a mile from work. When the weather behaves, I walk. I’ve gone from 26 miles/day driving to less than 2 miles/day. This money I’m letting build in the budget line item. My repairs budget (which is the same budget line as my gas money) got beat up a bit last year so it could use some growth. I love that I don’t have to make any changes to my budget and I’m coming out way ahead in this category.

Vehicle registration. I’ve mentioned this one before. My registration was several hundred dollars in California. It’s $92 in Texas. I’ve been able to cut this budget line item by 60%.

The list goes on and on but I wish someone had told me that moving out of San Diego would be so much more than less expensive housing. The difference financially is HUGE. The future is bright.

The other part I want you to take from this, if you are considering moving to a new area with a higher cost of living, remember it’s so much more than more expensive housing. You will get hit on so many levels. Be prepared.