A few years ago a friend of mine turned me on to Dave Ramsey podcasts and I would sit at my job (designing carpets-pushing pixels as I use to say) and listen. All these people would call in with their crazy stories of debt (I’m mean honestly people? Some of it was really good for a laugh!) and then there would be the excited calls to announce “I’m DEBT FREE!”. I’d get a thrill hearing those calls and wished to be right there with them, especially since I was really close.
Well, in 2009 I got there, I paid off my car and my college loan (after 10 years) and it felt so great (but NO I didn’t call Dave)! I wasn’t using credit cards and had learned some valuable lessons about interest rates and late fees in my early years after college when the thrill of having credit was new and felt so grown up! I quickly learned there was nothing mature about owing people for stuff you couldn’t afford and most likely didn’t need to begin with. I made a switch from using a typical credit card to using an American Express or my debit card which forced me to live within my limts (some people still can’t use either of these and remain disciplined enough to stay within their limits).
Today, I am so incredibly grateful that I don’t have the debt that so many Americans are saddled with. I also don’t own my own home, which I want to one day but we (my husband and I) made a conscious decision NOT to burden ourselves with a mortgage we felt was extending us beyond what felt comfortable. Thank goodness we didn’t take that on 5, 4 or even 3 years ago.
When was faced with making a decision about leaving my corporate job over a year ago one of the reasons I was able to say no to a job I didn’t love doing anymore was having no debt. The other was having a little nest egg saved away (that’s another story for another post). Today, as I begin a new career doing something I feel very passionate about I am so grateful for the lessons I learned from listening to Dave and his callers. Some people don’t like his personality or his approach and I’m generally not a conservative person but I think a little fiscal conservation goes a LONG way! In more recent years there are a lot of other financial planners giving out similar advice and we’ve all seen the damage that living beyond our means can cause. It’s something each person must decide for themselves but it certainly gives you a sense of FREEDOM when you don’t owe anybody anything!
So, go ahead and get that elephant off your back and begin to live DEBT FREE!