The best debt is the debt you don’t owe anymore! — Patrice C. Washington
I’ve gotta be honest. I’ve been plugging away at debt for a few years. The cost of debt really hit me when I left graduate school in 2013 and saw the colossal debt mountain obstructing my view of financial freedom. I’ll never forget opening up that first bill in my mother’s house that summer. My eyes leaped out of their sockets and my mouth dropped, forming an oval of surprise.
Almost four years later and several monthly payments of $350, I still owe more than the original balances. These federal loans are just my highest monthly payment. Small undergraduate loans and three credit card balances stand in my way of financial bliss.
I’ve known how to get out of debt for years. It’s simple:
Live below your means. Put the difference towards your debts. Don’t acquire more debt.
It’s just like losing weight. You have to burn more calories than you consume by exercising and eating well. Easier said than done. The why‘s more important than the how.
In order to climb Mount Debt, I must always keep my why front and center so I can push through the discomfort, the days when I want to blow my budget and the nights when I want to say “Yes!” to my friends’ invitation to hang out. The motivation must be strong.
Here are 7 reasons I want to get out of debt—and stay out of debt!
7. To bless others. Right now, my natural talents are my gifts. Need someone to spruce up your resume? I’m yo’ girl. But, sorry, I can’t donate $50 to your cause right now. I’m my own cause. Ha ha! I can’t serve others the way I want with my money being tied up in debt. I can’t help the poor if I am the poor. This debt has gotta go so I can spread more than my wealth of knowledge to my community.
6. To be an example for relatives and other black women. As the oldest of four, I’m the standard-bearer by default. Through this debt-free journey, I hope they see that they can do absolutely anything because Big Sis smashed over $50,000 in debt.
5. To get married and not carry the baggage of debt on the honeymoon. Ladies and gents, we all want our future spouses to have their $h!t together. That means, we have to get ours together, too. I don’t know when I’ll meet my future spouse. Maybe it’ll be in the middle of this process or soon after. But when I meet him, he’ll know that I’m a good steward of my money, and can bring wealthy habits into our union and pass them onto our children.
4. To NOT be a burden on others in my old age. When Miss Wise turns 70, she won’t be asking her kids or grandkids for money. No, sir! No, ma’am! She will have done her due diligence in her youth to ensure she’s well taken care of and leaves a legacy to younger generations.
3. To work because I want to work—not because I have to. How many folks are chained to their cubicles because they need that steady paycheck? The answer: lots! I know everyone’s not happy with their jobs. But money keeps the lights on and food on the table. I want to thrive in my career, fulfill my purpose, retire early if I choose and not just collect paychecks. That’s no way to live.
2. To have interest work for me—not against me. Lawd! I could cry thinking about the thousands of dollars I’ve given to lenders and creditors just to pay back interest. Seriously, I could cry. All of that money could be sitting in my IRAs, making me more money. I look forward to the day when compound interest works in my favor.
1. To be able to do what I want when I want and with whom I want. That’s my definition of financial freedom. (This reason could’ve been the only reason I gave because it encompasses all of the others, but one bullet does not a list make. Ha!) Anyhoo, I want to take advantage of opportunities when they arise, for example, pay my future daughter’s tuition in full her freshman year, put a down payment on a second home to rent out, buy all of the Girl Scout cookies from the little girl at Target, travel to another state for an awesome job, create a travel scholarship for students at my high school, or take my immediate family on an impromptu trip to Puerto Rico.
That’s why I’m on this debt-free journey. Thanks for tagging along. 😉
Can you relate to any of my reasons? Please describe your motivation for becoming debt-free in the comments below. I’d love to talk with you.