Freedom in becoming debt free

Rewind about 12 years and Brance I were happily dating and learning ALL about one another–everything from Brance’s preference for frosty mugs for milk-drinking and my obsession with British lit. and television to what our hopes and dreams were for the future.

I remember distinctly during that time a conversation we had. I can’t remember it word-for-word, but it is one of those conversations that really stuck out and got me thinking.

Somehow it came to light in that conversation that I had a credit card. Not one that could do a lot of damage (I think it had a $500 limit and I always paid it off), but one that I used occasionally none-the-less. More than anything, though, as a single gal, that little rectangle of plastic was something I viewed as a safety-net.

I was surprised to learn that Brance didn’t have a credit card, not a single one. And other than a car payment and some money he owed his father (which he regretted and was working hard to pay off quickly), he didn’t have any other debt hanging over him either–not even student loans. It was something that stuck with me, even though I didn’t immediately go home and cut up my little piece of “security”.

As the months passed and we became more serious and discussed the possibility of marriage and shared finances, the conversation of debt came up again. Brance really desired to continue on this path toward living debt-free and was hoping that I would be willing to do so as well.

I would love to say that I was ALL about the debt-free lifestyle from the beginning–that I had already been moving in that direction on my own after our initial conversation. But the truth was I hadn’t. It honestly seemed difficult to me at the time and I wasn’t sure it was worth pursuing.

BUT… I really cared for this guy and it was becoming increasingly obvious that this way of living was very important to him. So, chop chop (with a little hesitation) my credit card went “sacrificially” into the trash.

The real sacrifice came after marriage, though,  when the two of us doubled-down and cut corners, often going without, to quickly pay off our vehicles and my student loans. No exciting trips or much eating out or fancy, new furniture during those years (still not much of that today either :). It’s amazing how much you can do without and just how triumphant you feel when you use creativity, instead of money, to solve problems!

During those years, date-nights often involved a picnic outdoors or on a blanket in our living room. We discovered that planning and cooking meals together at home is actually a lot of fun—even romantic (especially with some good music and dance breaks). And not having a T.V. for a time ended up not being such a bad thing after-all. We found we watched a lot less and when we did, we cuddled close in bed with a laptop—which can be rather romantic ;). Many of the things we did to cut corners created some of our favorite memories (some we’ve continued doing to this day).

Trust me, it really is exciting to watch your debt disappear because of your sacrifice! You feel like you’re really accomplishing something! And there is so much freedom that comes from being debt-free.

Brance and I would not have been able to pursue dreams that took us to Boston over the last 5 years if we hadn’t tackled and conquered our debt. Hefty school loans, vehicle loans, credit card debt etc. looming over us and we just wouldn’t have been able to scrounge together enough to pay the crazy Boston rent.

In closing, please don’t feel I am judging people who have debt or make different financial choices than us. And I realize moving towards a debt-free lifestyle is no easy task. But because being debt-free has been surprisingly freeing and dream-enabling for us, I just had to share for those who might be interested!

With love,
Lauren