These powerful benefits of a debt free lifestyle were what kept us going when we felt like giving up. The hard work comes with a big reward!
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I’ve been waiting YEARS for this moment, I thought to myself. My mind raced back to the gift that inspired this journey. To the countless sacrifices we’ve made along the way. To the many times I’d wondered if this journey was even worth it.
I recalled the many questions we’ve answered from friends and family along the way, each one asked slightly differently, but all getting to the same point: Why are you doing this?
Then, with my husband next to me, we did what we’ve wanted to do for so long. We looked at each other, smiled, took a deep breath, and clicked the “submit” button.
Why Are You Doing This?
The questions from friends and family were well-meaning. They weren’t trying to be nosy or condescending. They just didn’t understand why we were living so counter-culturally in the area of finances.
I know not everyone chooses to pursue a debt-free lifestyle. In fact, most people in our country don’t choose to live this way.
According to a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts, 69% of Americans think that non-mortgage debt is a necessity in their lives. That same report indicates that 8 out of 10 Americans have debt. With debt being so commonplace in our society, some might consider us weird, or at the very least, unconventional. We’re okay with that.
The truth is, there are a lot of reasons why we set out on our debt free journey years ago, but these four powerful benefits of a debt free lifestyle are the reasons that kept us going when we wanted to give up.
1. Freedom from Stress
I grew up in a family where finances were a major source of stress. Debt was viewed as both a blessing and a curse…a blessing to be able to “afford” something, then a curse when jobs were lost or other uncontrolled circumstances occurred. That undoubtedly spilled over into my own view of money.
I will admit that I don’t handle financial stress very well, so my husband and I decided early on that we would do our best to make wise financial decisions to reduce that stress.
By paying off our debt, we are increasing our financial margin. There is less stress about bills because there are less of them! We don’t feel “strapped” by a crazy amount of monthly payments, which reduces anxiety. This, my friends, is a really good thing.
2. Freedom to Choose
Without a lot of debt weighing us down and consuming a ton of our income, we can make decisions based on our values rather than our financial obligations.
While we were in debt, we had to defer a lot of purchases we would have liked to have made. We had to say “no” to a lot of fun opportunities. We had to make tough decisions about what to prioritize.
Because we’ve seen how debt has negatively impacted our ability to do things, it’s extremely easy for us to see how being debt-free positively impacts our ability to do things.
Eliminating large monthly payments gives us some flexibility. Whether that means traveling more, staying home with the kids more, saving and investing more, or helping others more, we have more freedom to choose where our money goes.
3. Freedom to be Generous
When there aren’t a lot of debt payments to be made, it’s often easier to help others.
There are countless worthy causes: churches or other charitable organizations, child sponsorship opportunities, the many vulnerable populations in the world, random acts of kindness, and more.
While I personally think it’s important to give even while getting out of debt, having more financial margin means you have even more freedom to invest monetarily in the cause that stirs your heart.
4. Freedom to Leave a Legacy
At their current ages, our kids don’t have a clue what we’ve done. They don’t know how our decisions over the last several years have impacted and will continue to impact their lives. They probably won’t fully understand for quite a while. At this point, they don’t even know what debt is.
But someday we will tell them. We’ll do our best to instill in them wise principles of financial stewardship.
My hope is that they won’t have to experience financial stress in our home while they’re growing up. That they’ll develop generous hearts as they grow up in a family that values giving. I hope they’ll see firsthand the benefits of living beneath your means. That we’ll be able to teach them about our mistakes and how insanely hard we worked to write a different story for our family.
The Story Doesn’t End Here
As we clicked the “submit” button, making the final payment on our $130,000 debt, we closed a chapter of our lives that took a long time to write. In that same moment, another chapter began. One of freedom. And one that we are so excited to be writing.
Are you on a debt free journey or have you paid off all of your debt? I’d love to hear in the comments about your experience. What are your favorite benefits of a debt free lifestyle?