My husband and I paid off nearly all of our debts (other than our mortgage) a few years ago. When you are in debt and trying to get out from underneath the bills, you have to change your lifestyle and your attitude when it comes to money. After all, the way you were living and thinking about money got you into debt, so that is just part of the process of making a change. So, what happens when you are out of debt? Do you go back to your original way of thinking?
For so many of us, money has been telling us where it wants to go. When you start to tell your money where to go, you start to evaluate what is important in your life. It may require a change in not only your attitude about money, but also your priorities.
I use to think that I needed to have “things” to be happy. The more I had the happier it would make me. That of course meant more debt and more spending. Once we started our debt free program, I realized that I couldn’t buy those things anymore. For me, that was a change in my way of thinking. I had to change the way I viewed life and what it was that made me truly happy.
As we worked our way out of debt, we actually sold many of these items we had accumulated over the years. We used those proceeds to pay down our debts. The funny thing is, the more we sold and the more we eliminated our debt, the happier I became! This held true for my husband too. I think that deep down we both knew that happiness did not come from the stuff we had, but rather the people we had in our lives. Selling those items was a release for us. Not only did it free us from our debt, it freed us from the things we thought made us happy, but in reality, were holding us back.
Now that we are out of debt, we haven’t changed our way of thinking. In fact, it has gotten better! Our lifestyle is different. Although we no longer have debt and have income freed up each month, we still don’t just buy stuff to buy it. We think about the items we purchase and make sure it is something we need. Sure, we may purchase those wants from time to time, but we give it some thought and are not so impulsive. We know that happiness doesn’t come from these things. We still use our envelopes. We still have our budget. We still stick with cash only. That change in our lifestyle has become permanent, and I can’t imagine NOT living like this anymore!
Our attitude has also changed. It use to be a source of contention between my husband and I, and now, it is not. Instead of being scared to look at the budget and worry where the money was going, we can now sit down for our budget meetings without worry and stress. Yes, we need money to put a roof over our heads, cover our utilities and purchase food, but we don’t look at it with a negative eye. We no longer have stress and bad attitudes towards our budget and finances and it takes us less time to address these issues each week, which frees up more time for ourselves and our family. Instead, we are able to look at money as to what can we do to help our future and our children’s futures?
I’d be interested to know from you – do you find that learning to live debt free has changed YOUR attitude or lifestyle? Or, like us, has it changed both?
(I am not a financial advisor and the information listed within these Debt Challenge posts is not to be construed a financial advice. Financial concerns/issues should be addressed with a professional in order to receive advice and assistance.)