We’ve been debt free for over twenty years. However, along the way, there are five lies that we realized we have believed on some deeper level about what it actually means to be debt free.
There are five lies you may be telling yourself about becoming debt free.
If you’d like to hear us talk about each of the five lies we believed about becoming debt free, watch this video.
Here are all five lies that we believed – in no particular order.
Lie #1: When I am debt free, people will respect me more.
Many years ago, in the midst of our journey to become debt-free, Larry and I shared with some close family members that we were paying off our home early.
As we were waiting for pats on the back and shouts of approval, silence fell.
You could have heard a pin drop.
Then, they launched into a litany of reasons why we absolutely should not pay off the house.
The varied objections about how we handled money even unexpectedly warped into urging both of us to go back to school so that we could “better” ourselves.
They made their assumptions clear. Because we had chosen a different path in life, they believed that we knew nothing about how to handle money. Added to this was their reoccurring insistence that we must “like sustenance living” if we intended to raise children on a single income.
We were pretty gutted.
It was not the reaction we’d been hoping for.
Yet, we believed that after we became debt free, they would respect us.
That was a lie.
Here’s the truth.
If people do not respect you now, it is highly unlikely that they will begin to magically respect you after you become debt free. You can’t set personal or financial goals in order to win the approval of others. You must do it for yourself.
In truth, the only cure for the difficulty of disrespect is to stop oversharing with those who do not understand or respect the importance of healthy boundaries. However, the fact that you have paid off your financial obligations is not likely to make any difference.
Lie #2: When I am debt free, all of my problems will be solved.
Life is not a straight trajectory. You will have problems before you pay off debt – and they will occur after you are debt free, as well.
Paying off creditors will free up additional money in your budget. It will give you a greater variety of options when it comes to dealing with unexpected events. But, it won’t keep life (or problems) from happening.
Lie #3: When I am debt free, I will finally be happy.
Contentment is a choice. It’s an internal state of peace – despite your external circumstances. There are a whole lot of unhappy rich people in this world. Conversely, a person with little income, can have a wonderful outlook on life and remain very optimistic.
Will driving a nicer car, living in a bigger home, traveling the world make us happier?
In each case, there is a choice to be made. Living with a spirit of joy and abundance can be found while motoring through town in an older model Ford, living in a 2-bedroom bungalow, and taking day trips to local parks.
We know, because we did all three of these things while raising our sons – and we were supremely happy to be sharing life, love, and laughter together.
Being debt-free gave us more options, but no more happiness.
Lie #4: When I am debt free, I will not need to budget.
Millionaires are generally people who have budgeted their money, living for years spending less than their net income. The wealthy understand that making wise decisions about their expenses never changes. It’s a lifelong habit.
You become debt free by learning to budget. You stay debt free by continuing to budget and applying healthy spending limits to your life.
Lie #5: When I am debt free, I can buy whatever I want.
When you are debt free, you still have to consistently be looking down the line and forecasting future expenses. That is why everyone (regardless of whether they are paying off debt or not) needs to have a list of short, medium, and long term goals. Additionally, monthly progress toward these goals needs to be tracked.
However, that does not mean that you can begin buying whatever you want, whenever you want it. If you do, you will surely be back in debt in short order.
When you have no credit card balance, school loans, a car note, or a home loan, you do have greater control over where your money goes each month. You do have a greater ability to make faster progress on goals. And you do have more options and choices when you need to shift your finances around.
The diligence which brought you to the verge of owing no many anything will need to be a lifelong pursuit and necessity.