It’s Not as Great as You Think After Paying off $75,000 - It’s better! Here’s how it feels to be debt-free
What's it like to be debt-free?
It’s not as great as you think it will be. You’ve been wearing the same three pairs of jeans for five years, and your socks have noticeable wear on them. Your husband tells you to buy something new, but you still don’t have the money. That’s what you think anyway.
You can’t just turn off the broke mindset to the debt-free mind as soon as you click pay in full. It’s the same process when you started on this journey. You have to allow yourself to transition your mind. How you think and feel about money determines your behavior.
Two years ago, you stopped using credit cards and started to pay down your debt. All your extra money went to the smallest debt until it was paid off. Then you concentrated on the next smallest. You did this until twenty-four months later, you paid off the last one.
Your mind doesn’t change immediately when the bills are paid in full.
It’s a great feeling, don’t get me wrong. But you’ve been living with a scarcity mindset for so long, you have to have time to adjust. When you see the first statements coming in with zero balances, you know it’s really happening.
Where we came from
I used to carry my bills with me in a notebook, true story. I didn’t open my mail; I just put the bills in the notebook. Bills were always on my mind, always a worry. How am I ever going to pay these? I finally stopped going to the mailbox, and the post office stopped delivering my mail. I was afraid to get more bills.
That was thirteen years ago. My life was a mess; I was divorced, out of a job, and out of hope. Bankruptcy was the only option after my ex-husband’s bankruptcy was final. Silly me, I thought the divorce settlement was the deciding factor. You know, he agreed to…just stop there.
None of that matters if both of you signed your forever names to the document. It doesn’t matter that my ex-husband agrees to pay for the truck that he just bought. He agreed to many things that didn’t happen, which led to the divorce. Why, oh, why would you think he would follow through after the divorce?
After my bankruptcy, my credit score plummeted to 580. In the back of your mind, that’s what you think you’re worth, you know? I was afraid when I applied for a job that the company would consider me a risk. Would my low score eliminate me from the job? It happens, you know?
Our life changed when we started working together
Ten years ago, I remarried and learned to trust again. Both of us had baggage from our previous marriages, but we went beyond that. It was when we finally got serious about our money and working together that our marriage strengthened. We made the decision to pay off all our debt except for our house.
It wasn’t easy, and we struggled along the way. We didn’t decide to just do it; we slacked off, used our credit cards. Then we started all over again. Don’t give up, because you can do this at any age.
After Paying off $75,000 in 24 months, here’s how it feels to be debt-free
So how does it feel to be debt-free? There’s still some fear and some insecurity. The memory of the lights getting shut off or the gas in the winter. (My son still remembers taking a cold shower. Not my best moments as a single mom.)
You think all your problems will be solved, but money doesn’t solve everything. Cash makes it more comfortable, makes life more secure. The challenge is to stay strong and not go backward. The freedom we experience is now we have choices.
You think you would feel euphoric, but you’re still guarded. Still unsure and not fully accepting that you really did it. You’re just not ready to celebrate, not yet.
This might be the opposite of what you would expect; I know it is for me. I expected to feel different somehow. But you have to give your mind the chance to catch up to your life. Your mind has been in this scarcity mindset for too long.
So how long will it take? As long as it needs, as long you feed it information. If you keep living with this scarcity mindset, it’s going to take a long time. If you start realizing the achievements you made and acknowledging them, you can shift your life.
You’ll accept the new reality; you’re debt-free. You don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck any longer wondering if you’re going to come home and the lights are off. Well, if it happens, it’s because you forgot to pay the bill, not because you didn’t have the money!
It’s not as great as you think, it’s better!
Just like everything in life, it’s an adjustment. You can’t just click your mind into believing the new reality. You have to convince yourself and change your mindset.
Think about your first day of retirement. What would that day look like? You would plan for it, prepare for that first day when you wake up at 6 a.m., and then realize you don’t have to.
Do that when you’re trying to get debt-free. Have a dream session; this is what we’re going to do when we’re debt-free. That’s what we did, and it kept us motivated. You have to have a goal beyond the task.
It’s not what you’d expect; it’s better. Some of you have to give yourself permission to spend again, oh darn. That’s awful, isn’t it? (insert sarcasm)
It’s a commitment you make to become debt-free, and it’s not easy. Anyone can do it at any age, but you have to know why you want to. Plan what life will look like when you’re debt-free; dare to dream. It’s worth working for, and you can do it if you want to.
Writing about a debt-free life, history buff and work/life balance