Is Being Debt Free Worth it?

Jen SmithDebt, Personal Finance26 Comments

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I had a great talk with Millennial Money Man yesterday and my favorite piece of advice he gave me was to “write what you’re passionate about.” It took me literally five seconds to think of the one thing I’m really passionate about right now:

Getting out of debt.

A lot of people don’t understand why we’re doing this. They’re living great lives with money in the bank, shiny cars in the driveway, all with a six-figure negative net worth.

So why would I deprive myself in my 20’s, the “best” years of my life, to sacrifice 60% percent of our monthly income to pay the debt that’s very happily willing to sit there for as long as I want it to?

My Future Children

One of my goals is to foster and adopt children. I don’t have dreams of trust funds and private schools but I do see a lot of family vacations in our future. I want to make memories that I didn’t get a chance to make with my family when I was young.

And I want to teach my kids not just the value of staying out of debt but how to spend well and what it feels like to give generously. My parents never taught me personal finance and theirs never taught them. I want that cycle to stop with my kids.

Looming Interest

Before I buy something nonessential I think about the interest accumulating on my loans. I know it sounds trivial but I think that whatever I buy costs 6.55% more because those dollars could be going to pay down my debt. It’s not just a reason I want to get rid of debt I use it as motivation. I walk around stores and know that just because something’s a great deal doesn’t mean it’s worth having if it keeps my interest increasing.

Early Retirement

The idea of a 9 to 5 job has never interested me. I decided against med school because I thought being a doctor would take too much of my time away from my family and incur too much debt. So the thought of retiring early sounds fantastic. My mom started late and will be working well into her 70’s before she can retire. I’m starting now so that doesn’t happen to me.

I love the thought of us being empty nesters traveling to Europe, taking cruises, volunteering wherever we want whenever because we’re not bound to a work schedule!

And the more I read about people doing it, the more I know it’s possible. Getting out of debt started as a goal to save money on interest and has become a journey that’s taught me the value of financial freedom. So why am I wasting my best years depriving myself for “no reason?” Because it’s a lie that everyone has debt and student loans are good debt, or that you need debt to get ahead.

There are millennials with six-figure POSITIVE net worths and people retiring in their 30’s and 40’s. They’re not unicorns, they’re people who know the value of money and are working their freaking tails off to get what they want.

And I’m going to be one of them.

You with me?

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Is Being Debt Free Worth it?


26 Comments on “Is Being Debt Free Worth it?”

  1. Thanks for sharing! When you say “debt”, do you mean all debt not tied to equity or all debt in general? As a 20-something, I find it completely doable to pay off all student loan and CC debt. But I find it daunting to even consider paying off my home. Plus, I guess, in my mind, I don’t even consider my home mortgage debt since it has equity, even though it comes with a price of an interest rate. Should I be trying to pay that off too? Even if it’s a “starter home”?

    1. Hey Sharon! We don’t own a home so I’m just talking about our student loans (and a car loan we paid off last year.) But there are tons of people who have paid off their mortgages! It is different because it’s an investment and tied to equity so don’t stress yourself out too much. Make sure you’re taking care of retirement, have your emergency fund of 3-6 months expenses, etc. then focus on paying extra on the house. Thanks for reading!

  2. Paying off my student loans was one of the best things I did. The key is it gives you flexibility! Financial independence is one thing. But getting rid of your debt is another step towards that.

    Getting out of that student loan debt makes it much, much easier to survive if something were to happen. I always say, I can probably figure out a way to pay for my current expenses if need be. But it’s much harder if I also have to pay for past expenses as well!

    1. Amen! You never know what the future holds. Congratulations and I can’t wait to join you on the other side of the student loan debt debacle!

  3. I’m with you!

    Our student loans make up a majority of our debt with credit cards close behind. I’m not going to immediately concern myself about the mortgage until I deal with Credit cards and then student loans.

    For my wife and I it feels like we’re always 1 step forward 2 steps back. Thankfully we both have a steady paycheck and have our companies outside of our traditional 9-5’s but I’ve now had to put my student loans in forbearance for the 3rd time since I got my degree.

    Now we’re shifting focus and making sacrifices to kill as many debts and as fast possible so we can actually financially grow.

    1. So many can relate to that Adam. I put mine in forbearance for a few months before our wedding. Keep making those sacrifices and now and you’ll have exponentially more in the future. Especially as those side hustles flourish. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Hi, Jen! I am RIGHT THERE with you! I really, truly think half the people I know must be in debt up to their eyeballs, because there’s no way they could afford cars, trips, new this/that/etc. without it. My husband and I decided to attack our debt a few years ago, and we still have some – a mortgage, etc. – but we’re in SO much better shape, and we are on the road to accumulate actual WEALTH, and be able to enjoy life together earlier.

    (We also want to foster and adopt too. Good luck with your journey! xoxo)

    1. Thanks Caitlin! Congrats on your success! Comparison is the downfall of most human beings so remembering the wealth we’ll have down the road is so key to sticking with this. Good luck with your adoption journey as well!

  5. A mortgage is my biggest debt fear, the average price of a home for our family is $500,000 where we live. My next fear is, will I ever even be able to enter the market?

    1. Me too Breharne. That’s why we’re waiting til we’re debt free to take on that even bigger monster. It’s an investment though so it’s worth it. There’ll always be houses and deals out there, it’s all about being ready and patient. 🙂

  6. It’s really difficult to find your way through all the financial advice jargon out there — we paid off our car and we usually pay our cc’s in full every month, but I still have my student loans, and we’ve been thinking about getting a house (renting an apartment is quite honestly, such a waste of money – it goes toward nothing!), but it’s really overwhelming!

    -Clarissa @ The View From Here

  7. We were appalled to see how one of our student loans was only 3000 but it was gonna take forever to pay off due to ridiculous interest and a small monthly payments. You’re so right about abstaining from frivolous purchases and killing that debt because that interest really gets you.

    You’re opener about going on vacations with your adopted children really warmed my heart!

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  10. It took me 55+ years to become debt free (other than a mortgage ). It is so nice not having any bill other than daily living expenses. The feeling of freedom is wonderful. And as you get older, you find you really don’t need all that stuff. Start now. Being debt free is being in control of your futre

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