less debt more freedom

January 28th, 2008

Less Debt = More Freedom

Last week, J.D. at Get Rich Slowly wrote a post about debt snowflaking and linked to several of my past snowflaking posts. The post was generally well-received, but one comment has since stuck in my mind. The comment author felt that putting every penny towards debt was letting debt rule your life, and wrote, among other things:

Why the obsession with paying off debt so quickly?

And my immediate response to that was:

The obsession, for me, with paying off debt so quickly is that while I wasn’t – debt *was* ruling my life. The more I pay off, the freer I become.

And it is true. I may seem quite obsessive in my snowflaking and paying down debt, with my multiple tables and charts and goal updates and neverending quests for snowflake earning. And in fact, I am. But it is an obsession that is making my life just a little bit more free every day.

Debt right now dictates just about every financial decision we make, and has for the past 5+ years. Our “debt snowball” is $810.41, which at one time was our exact minimum payment to all our non-mortgage debt. Now that we have eliminated quite a bit of our credit card debt, that magic minimum payment number is actually $630.41, and that means we are $180 freer in how we decide to use our money. We choose to plow that into further debt reduction and pick up even more momentum towards becoming debt free, but the key word there is choose. We now have a choice for what to do with $180 more of our money than we did when we started getting out of debt.

$180 a month might not seem like a huge amount (although to us it is pretty significant) but eventually, that $180 will become our full debt snowball, $810.41. We will have $810.41 more each month to spend, save, or invest than we do now. $810.41 that is free for us to decide how to use. To us, that is a significant amount of financial freedom that debt is currently keeping us from achieving.

My debt does rule my life. And my single-minded obsession with paying off debt is how I fight back. The less debt we have, the freer we become.

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20 Responses to “Less Debt = More Freedom”

  1. Not only will you be free to decide where your money goes, but you’ll be more prepared to handle unexpected life events. It takes mad passion to form strong habits. I’m always inspired by your methods and progress! Keep it up :)

  2. Wish cash left over, assuming you continue with your budget after the debt is gone, you’ll be able to sock away some serious money and finally make it work for you. That’s MY motivation. Right now, I work for my money, but with no debt, I’ll make IT work for ME!

  3. Your ability to see the long term results of the choices you’ve made to pay down your debt as soon as possible now to free yourselves sooner is inspiring. You show people everyday on this blog that you can still live a fulfilling life and eliminate the chains of debt.

  4. Thanks :)

    Sometimes y’all make me want to cry… in a good way!

  5. Can you all see me standing and applauding this post?

  6. I wrote a post about this a while back. In my opinion, freedom is a state of mind, and you can feel free or not regardless of external circumstances. Debt rules your life now and will continue to do so until you stop letting it. Of course, it’s easier to stop letting it when it’s no longer there!
    But from my POV, it isn’t the reduction in debt that makes one feel free, it’s the way one is better able to handle all things financial, kwim?

    All that being said, it’s obviously better to be debt-free than in debt, so I see very little wrong with how you choose to go about getting rid of it.

  7. Well put! Also, who wants to pay interest? It’s much better to earn it than pay it! :)

  8. @deepali – in a zen sort of way I understand and agree with what you’re saying. But I don’t agree in a reality type of way.

    I spent a whole lot of time kind of ignoring my debt and although paying minimums to it, not thinking about it, ever. And even though it wasn’t on my mind and I wasn’t thinking about it, it still ruled my life in the options I had available and the amount of money it was possible to spend or save. I may not have identified that it ruled my life, but that didn’t make it any less so.

    Kind of like the elephant in the room everyone sees and no one talks about.

    I can certainly handle financial things better now than when I started, but I don’t feel free, and wouldn’t even if I put things on autopilot and stopped obsessing. Some obsessing, IMHO, isn’t so bad. :)

  9. I’ve said this before but I’m just so impressed with you and your snowflakes and your overall management of your money. You inspire me to think twice about how I do things, so I don’t pay twice later. :)

  10. well, I wouldn’t say ignoring it is the best idea either! You’re definitely right about the elephant… and that wouldn’t be very zen either. :) I was thinking more in terms of mindfulness and awareness (which is more zen). That’s where I see true freedom. And I agree, a little obsessiveness isn’t a bad thing. But let’s call it determination, shall we? ;)

  11. You are going to be able to save and invest so much money when you’ve finished with this debt rubbish. I’m pretty jealous. I think there’s some notion that I could do the same somewhere, I’ll have to work on it I guess.

  12. Great post. I find that paying attention to my finances and focusing on making things better for us makes me feel more in control, and therefore more confident and happy about our financial situation. Which, I suppose, is another way of saying it makes me feel free :D

  13. I agree! Without, for instance, our $250+ car payment each month, we could invest more in our future…savings, retirement, etc. Maybe I could buy some new clothes. Maybe we could go out to eat now and then. And faster of course means less interest and less money they get overall.

    That would be nice! :)

  14. Mrs Micah’s Mom Says:

    February 1st, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    When I was a young woman, I kept free of debt. So, when I decided to go to graduate school, I was able to. My sister had debts and couldn’t. That’s freedom.

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