Maintaining Inspiration for a Debt Free Life
In my late twenties (I’m 35 now) my wife and I made the decision to crawl out from our pile of debt. To summarize our situation, we had a bit of credit card debt and a couple of car loans. The plan of attack was similar to Dave Ramsey’s baby steps, but we started before we heard of his plan. We kept about $1000 in the bank as an emergency fund. Then we made a budget. This was eye opening, as we could really see what we were spending, and how much money we were wasting each month in interest.
This was our initial inspiration, to stop wasting money on interest payments. We were wasting hundreds of dollars each and every month, just because we bought “stuff” on credit cards and cars through bank financing. We started off strong, attacking debt. We cut back on all unnecessary expenses; we stopped eating out, we cancelled our cable TV, we stopped buying stuff.
It felt great for a while. But cutting back is hard, and eventually the novelty wore off. We found our desire for “stuff” beginning to grow. I needed inspiration. I’d like to share with you, the ways we found inspiration to keep going.
The first big boost to our inspiration was hearing about Dave Ramsey. I bought his book, “The Total Money Makeover.” Actually, what I thought was a paperback version turned out to be the workbook (note to Dave Ramsey: The giant word “Workbook” written across the cover wasn’t enough for me to notice the difference.) In any case, it contained much of the same information as the real book, and it got us supercharged. We officially began working the baby steps. We worked on the smallest debt first, and paid minimums on everything else. We were making good progress.
Months went by, and living within our means was still tough. We had our goal, but it seemed like it would take forever to reach it. The inspiration was slowly waning. The one thing that kept me going through the ups and downs of our new “living below our means” lifestyle was listening to Dave Ramsey’s radio program. Hearing about other people that were in our situation or worse even, and seeing how they managed to overcome debt. I especially liked his Friday shows where he encouraged folks to call in and scream “I’m debt free.”
As we entered our thirties, my wife and I started thinking about having a child. We knew that if we were going to have a child, we wanted her to be able to stay home and raise this child. This was inspiration number four. To be able to live on one income in order to support a stay at home mom and a new baby. This is where we got fanatical about paying off debt. To find out if we could get by on one income, we practiced it. We lived on my income, and all hers (minus working expenses) went to pay down debt. We also took every bit of bonus, tax return, and gifts, and added it to our debt snowball.
It took us about three years to get out of debt. During that time, we needed to constantly reach for inspiration to keep going. It was tough to realize that we weren’t as rich as we thought we were, and to start living within our means. We did it though, by the time our daughter was born, we were debt free, and my wife was able to stay home to raise our daughter. I can think of no better reward for our hard work and dedication.
Here’s the quick list of the inspirations that kept us going.
- Establishing a reason to get out of debt
- Reading about strategies and success stories
- Listening to strategies and success stories
- Setting a goal (of life changing proportions)
Those are the sources of inspiration that worked for me. Your situation may be different or you may have different inspiration, and that’s ok. What’s important is that you find your own inspiration, and use it to keep you going on your path to success.
We’ve been out of debt for nearly four years. One of the benefits I didn’t realize at the time is the reduction of money related stress. All those bills are stressful. We now have less stress and less worry. Another benefit which I certainly didn’t foresee was being able to weather a 3 month layoff due to being debt free and having an emergency fund. Actually, it was more than just “weathering;” I was able to relish it. I was able to enjoy every second of unemployment spending quality time with my family.
Are you working towards a debt free lifestyle? What are your inspirations? I’d love to hear from you.
Image by TomJByrne
Eric is a lifestyle blogger and amateur philosopher. He enjoys discussions of our path in life; where the path leads, the adventure along the path, and the unseen forces that guide us as we progress along our own personal path. In addition to writing here, you can find him at Eden Journal, where he posts a wide spectrum of articles from personal development to spiritual and philosophical awakenings. lifetime of experiences.