5 Surprising Things We’ve Learned Since Becoming Debt Free

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I blinked and the month of August went by.  It’s been a whirlwind for a lot of reasons but mostly because this little thing called Eat Pray Budget has been a blast!  I’ve had the great pleasure of hearing from many of you, answering questions, getting kudos and cheering some of you on. You all are incredible and I am so grateful for you taking the time to read this blog, let alone reach out.

To be honest, the romantic in me sets unrealistic expectations of big events.  I definitely know I do it and try not to pass my crazy on to those around me.  Ha!  Us becoming debt free was no different.  I was expecting fireworks.  Fireworks or not, it has been absolutely incredible.  We’ve definitely had some surprising realizations that neither Dallas nor I expected.  These are personal and will likely vary from person to person but I thought I’d share what we’ve learned since we became debt free 28 days ago.

1 – We’re Still Weird

I read in a study earlier this week that the majority of US workers are living paycheck to paycheck.  Nearly 80 percent to be exact. That statistic shocked me at first but now that I think about it, it makes sense.  Heck, before budgeting, Dallas and I were too.  We were blissfully ignorant and didn’t realize that we were living paycheck to paycheck but we were.

With statistics like that, it won’t surprise you that once we became debt free, we were even more in the financial minority and certainly got some weird looks.  Some folks from our personal lives were sure to point out that we don’t own a home, that we drive old cars and that we are under 35.  It was almost excusing their financial position on their age or the fact that they have debt in a home or car.  We know that what we’ve done and how we plan to live is different.  We won’t be normal by society’s standards and we’re proud of that.

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2 – Paying Yourself if a Blast

Paying off debt was a fun game.  I enjoyed checking the debt balance, maintaining my nerdy spreadsheets and watching that debt balance fall with each paycheck.  Guess what’s even more fun… Paying yourself instead of a lender!! A serious fire was lit under Dallas and he has been crazy intense about saving.  It has been a lot of fun.  We’ve even been taking budgeted money from our fun category to increase our saving to even dollar amounts so that we have clean even dollar amounts in our savings account.  I told you that I was a nerd.

Dallas has been selling stuff like a crazy man too!  We’re decluttering and increasing our emergency fund.  Win, win!  For the majority of the month, we’ve been cash flowing a few trips so our savings hasn’t increased the way we’d like it too but given everything we’ve been doing, we’re happy about the progress.

3 – Denial is a Real Thing

Seriously.  I’ve been in denial about being debt free this whole month.  Ok, maybe it’s not denial, maybe I’m just getting used to our new norm.  I’ve had waves of excitement and denial because, at times, it just doesn’t seem real.  I’ve certainly had a weird mix of emotions.  Worth it yes, but definitely strange!  Dallas on the other hand immediately felt a wave of relief.  Like a boulder was taken off of his shoulders.

4 – We still have plenty of work to do

Financial freedom is closer but we’re not there yet!  We’re definitely still budgeting.  The only difference is that the line titled “Debt” is now titled “Savings” in our budget.  We’re currently saving like crazy for our six-month emergency fund and then we’ll be saving for a house.  I honestly don’t think the work with personal finances ever decreases.  The goals/focus changes but we’re still working hard and living intentionally to attain our financial goals.

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5 – We joined a fun debt free club

People who are also debt free or are slaying their debt came out of the wood works.  We’ve had a blast sharing this win with others who get it and are genuinely excited about it! You know that friend that knows everything about you.  That one person who knows what you’re thinking with just a look.  We’ve shared looks like that with so many people.  An unspoken glance saying, I see you, I know what you’re doing and you’re killing it!  Epic!

If you’re debt free, I’d love to hear from you.  What did you experience in the weeks after your big payoff?

Until next time, spend safely! 

Note: I am not a personal finance professional.  All of my advice is strictly opinion.  I am not responsible for your success or failure.  If you need professional financial help, please seek advice from a trained professional.
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