Life After Debt

Life After DebtLast week, I paid off my student loans.

Pause for applause.

Now, all I have left is a car loan. And that’s low enough to be gone before I can wear short sleeves outside.

I feel like a balloon, barely tied to the bench at the picnic table. It’s secure, but the knot is loosening.

And just like that balloon, I’m ready to be free.

It’s an interesting side effect of eliminating debt. I feel so light, I feel so free. It’s crazy how tied to my debt I was, without even realizing it.

But now, it’s interesting.

I don’t have any subscriptions. I’m on my parents’ cell phone plan (thanks, Mom and Dad!) and I know my best friend’s Netflix password (which provides endless entertainment for her husband, who thinks my taste in movies is atrocious!). My rent is month-to-month, and I have no boyfriend, no children, no responsibilities.

I have a houseplant.

I live a minimalist life, and I love it. I could pack my life into ten boxes. So, why don’t I?

There’s so much freedom, so much adventure. So much of a blank slate.

It’s life after debt, and it looks good.

I could float away.


What Does Life After Debt Look Like?

  • It’s pretty simple. My money is my own. Instead of paying interest, I’ll start earning interest. A little at first, sure, but that’s okay. Earning a little interest sure feels a lot better than paying a little (or, shudder, a lot) of interest.
  • I’m not committed to a job I don’t like, just because I need the money.
  • Getting out of debt taught me how to live on half my income. And now I will be saving half, so that at the end of the year, I’ll have a hefty emergency fund.
  • I won’t fuss or worry if I get asked to go on vacation. Because vacation is part of what makes a life happy.
  • I won’t have to see every hour I’m not working as a dollar sign that I’m losing.


Ultimately Not Much Will Change

I learned how to live well under my means. I was able to get out from under $25,000 in credit card debt and $15,000 in student loan debt.

All by myself.

Pardon me, but I keep patting myself on the back. I’m darn proud of myself.

So all the money I’d been putting toward the various debts will now go straight into savings.

So, here’s the real truth. I hate to spell it out so simply, since I know there are a lot of people who are struggling to get to the same place I finally got to, after all this time.


Life After Debt is Exactly Like Life Before Debt

That’s really the truth. It’s no different. It doesn’t feel like a new day, it doesn’t feel any different, really.

And that’s okay!

What I’d like to tell you is that if you like your life, if you celebrate your ups and downs, your small and large victories, the day-to-day amazingness, then you’re set. You’ll still like your life once you’re out of debt.

The converse is true, though, too.

If you are not happy now, if you beat yourself up for every bad decision (financial or otherwise) you make, then you won’t be happier when your financial situation changes for the better.

So, the moral of this story?

Get happy. Do whatever it takes to forgive yourself for your past transgressions.

Then, get yourself out of debt, and onward to investing in your future!

The future looks great, I promise. I’m just here to tell you that life goes on, no matter what. Don’t expect fireworks.

 Do you have goals for life after debt?

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  1. says

    Congratulations! Reaching the “After-debt life” is an exhilarating experience… for a few days.

    Then the question arrives: what next?
    The surprising answer: responsibility. While most people are paying down their debt, that pretty much defines the focus of their responsibility. Once the debt is gone, though, there isn’t anybody making their minds up any more about what to do. Now they are on their own. They have to decide what to do with complete, unfettered freedom. It’s surprising to see how many people are not prepared for that moment. And that’s why a majority of them just go right back into debt.

    Why? While they were paying off the debt, they (consciously or unconsciously) programmed their financial lives into a rigor of “making payments.” It’s like they develop a kind of “there. that’s settled, I know how to budget, so I’m good with this” comfort.

    But once your debt is paid off, you are faced with your #1 issue: you have to invest. To many people that’s a scary transition. “Debt we know,” they seem to say, “but investing, that’s a scary thing for us.”

    I’ve learned in life our financial identity is either debtor or investor, there’s not much else to be.

    So… now you’re an investor. How does that make you feel? :)

  2. says

    Congrats Kathleen and great work! I love the sentiment and one that I can relate to as it’s pretty much how I felt after getting out of debt. I loved that I, all of a sudden, had choices to make with my money and that I had freedom to choose what I wanted to do as opposed to being obligated to send someone else money for my poor decisions.

  3. says

    Hey Kathleen, I am glad to hear that 😀

    I landed on your blog few days before and read some post. This was also a fantastic one :

    keep it up. Added to a Google Reader. 😀

  4. says

    Congratulations. I am sure it will be a big load off your mind to be debt free. I have some time before I reach that stage again. However, I do know that I will start investing in more assets and giving away a lot more once I no longer have monthly payments.

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