It was around this time three years ago that Johnny and I joined hands together, jointly extended our pointer fingers, and pressed “Submit” on our final debt payment. If all of that sounds kinda weird, it was. And I’m glad you didn’t see it. But boy was it exciting! And then after we pressed it… and the payment confirmation appeared, that was it. It was realllly anti-climatic. We were officially debt free, which was a really big deal, but nothing had changed. It wasn’t until the coming weeks and months that we realized what a freedom we felt from no longer having debt. I’m assuming it’ll be the same when I turn 30. At first I’ll feel no difference, and then gray hairs and wrinkles and poor taste in music will materialize in the coming weeks. That happens, right?
So today we wanted to share our thoughts on three years of being debt free.
First I want to go back to the very beginning, that fateful day when Johnny and I started paying off our student loans. It felt like an insurmountable task, one with no end in sight. And we didn’t even have that much debt — just $20k between the two of us. Initially we figured it’d take 5-7 years to take care of it. But instead, we planned and plotted out our debt snowball method to make it happen in two years and then got to work. Money was very tight for the entire ride, especially since we moved two times and lived in NYC and Boston during that time. But in less than two years, we destroyed our Debt Monster.
Fast forward to three years of debt freedom… how has it changed our lives? While we worked toward paying down our loans, we matched an employer 401k contribution, put away $300-$500 into savings each month, and had a $1000 emergency fund. And once all of the debt repayment was said and done, we’ve been able to do the following:
- Continued contributing to retirement by maxing out our Roth IRAs for the past two years
- Bought a used car with cash
- Opened up a 529 for little miss Sally and plan to open up one for our new little nugget next year
- Saved up enough money for a future down payment on a home (and continue to save towards this each month)
- Built up a six-month emergency fund
- Stayed debt free
It’s crazy how much more we’ve been able to do with our money now that we no longer have that monthly debt payment. We’ve also seen some promotions and raises in the past three years, but I kind of killed most of that awesomeness when I quit my job in May :). Mostly, our ability to do more with our money has come from sticking to a strict budget and continuing to live with a money-saving mentality. We don’t know what the future brings, and we feel lucky to have been able to avoid the Debt Monster again up to this point. If and when life happens and our finances take a hit, we want to be as prepared as possible.
If you’re still trying to tackle your debt demons, your reading this is a testament to your likelihood of totally making it happen. If it’s on your mind, and you just can’t shake that feeling of owing someone else money, you are well on your way to debt freedom. Whether it’s $5,000 in debt or $100,000, all it takes is a plan and a resolve to stick to that plan. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself awkwardly clicking a mouse button with a spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/cat and celebrating a debt-iversary on a random Wednesday, too.
What about you? What financial freedom have you found from paying off debt? Or how will your life change once your debt is paid in full?
It’s no secret that Johnny and I enjoy talking about our generation of millennials and all our “issues,” such as why our generation’s still mooching off our parents. We read another discussion-worthy article recently that we wanted to share.
The article poses the question Why aren’t millenials saving any money? The author shares a startling statistic — that adults younger than 35 have an average yearly savings rate of -2 percent. Ouchh. And that it didn’t used to be so bad. In 2009, that number was at 5.2 percent. So what happened? Why are we now saving negative amounts of money?
The author blames student debt, a skepticism of banks, and a lack of financial education. She also mentions that our generation tends to be fairly open about our financial standing since we’re all faring pretty poorly (literally) in that area of our lives.
I completely agree that our generation tends to be more open about our finances. But I don’t think it’s because we all know we’re collectively doing horribly financially. Rather, no matter whether we’re doing good or bad, we talk to each other about it because we know we’re all trying our best at something we have no clue about. Every couple Johnny and I know wants financial security and independence, but none of us were taught how to get there.
And I think that’s the big reason for our collective -2 percent savings rate, too. No one taught us how to manage money. If I asked ten random peers on the street whether they got a financial education growing up — either in school or home — I really think at least nine would say “no.” I’m not sure why we weren’t educated, but I’m pretty fed up with kids growing up without any financial know-how whatsoever. If Johnny’s ever a politician, my fun little wife side platform will be getting kids a financial education in our schools. But that’s a whole other topic for another day.
Johnny thinks it’s a bit more complex than financial ignorance. He blames it mostly on college tuition being at an all-time high, resulting in much of our generation drowning in student debt. He also attributes it partially to the horrible job market we were all met with when we graduated from college.
And it’s probably a combination of all those factors, or maybe there’s a completely different issue we haven’t thought of. We’re not sure. But we want to hear what you guys have to say since many of you are sure to have some great insight. So what do you think? Why on earth is our generation averaging a -2 percent savings rate each year? At what age do we snap out of this terrible statistic, and how do we help the next generation avoid our same mistakes?
General Baby Thoughts That’s right. In just one month, our little tot will be turning TWO. Although, with her already wearing some 3T clothing, it feels like she’s been two for months now. An almost-two-year-old is like having a really fun, really volatile roommate. For the most part, they’re incredibly happy, dancing and spinning in circles at random throughout the day, wanting to go to […]
Yes, it’s true… this week is OFB’s second birthday! In some ways, we can’t believe it’s already been two years. In the same breath, it feels like OFB has always been a part of us — for better or worse, richer or poorer. It’s like a marriage. But here we are! It’s kind of crazy to think about everything that’s happened in the past two years. […]
We’re here in the city! Getting out here was a little hectic with all our luggage and a toddler and kitty in tow, but we survived! Sally slept the entire plane ride, and Persie… well, she meowed the entire time. But neither had any accidents, so we’ll still call it a win. The past few days have been chock full of unpacking, more unpacking, remembering […]
Our little fam in Alabama this past week Hello! We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! And happy December! I love this month. We spent the past week in Alabama with my family, finally taking a few days to relax during this whirlwind moving process. I don’t think it’s fully sunk in for Johnny or me that as of tomorrow we’ll be NYC residents […]