Last 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?