This week marks four years of being debt free. (!!!) It’s hard to predict where we’d be if we’d never made the decision to get out of debt. All we know is where we are now. But I don’t think it’s a stretch to say all of the financial goals we’ve met in the past four years have been reached because we made the decision to get out of debt. Here are some of the things we’ve been fortunate to accomplish since that fateful day four years ago:
- Opened and contributed to 529 college savings plans for Sally and Winnie
- Maxed out our Roth IRAs for the past three years to prepare for retirement
- Built a six-month emergency fund
- Saved up enough for a down payment on a house (and continue to save)
- Bought (and sold) used cars with cash
- Started a small business entirely funded by ourselves
- Stayed debt free
Bringing our debt balance from -$20,000 to $0 (the x’s and o’s) was important. But even more important than the tactical stuff was actually setting that goal and making the decision to live debt free. Committing to that goal and working toward it as we paid down our debt has affected everything we’ve accomplished financially these past four years. The amount we owed to others (read: student loan providers) changed, but more importantly, we changed.
Because of that decision and ultimately becoming debt free, we’ve made some pretty major changes. Johnny is now pursuing self-employment and we’ve started a side business. We don’t know where this chapter will take us, but we couldn’t have started it in the first place if it weren’t for our finances, built solidly on a foundation of freedom from debt.
Getting out of debt is an exercise in restraint and sacrifice. And sometimes it’s hard to see the payoff because it can be years away. Saving for retirement, for instance, won’t feel validated or worth the effort until we retire thirty years from now. But with each passing day, month, and year of being debt free, it’s becoming very easy to see all the good things that have come because of that initial, audacious goal we set to get out of debt.
While we certainly don’t miss having debt, we do miss that camaraderie of fellow Debt Monster fighters. And while we might be fortunate enough to have gotten out of debt, we’re cognizant of the fact that many of you reading this are not yet out of debt. Ours is hopefully a story of hope. Know that we’re you’re greatest advocates and cheerleaders and want you to succeed. If nothing else, we tell this story and celebrate this day on our blog to remind you that not only is it possible, but that you, too, will someday celebrate your debt-iversary. And we can’t wait to celebrate it with you.
We’re taking a few days off to spend time with family and regroup from a busy past few weeks. Johnny and I have set aside a night in the coming week to talk through what we hope to bring to OFB in 2016! We’re excited for a new year of all kinds of nerdy financial talk. We hope you all have a Merry Christmas!