Three and a half years ago, my husband and I entered debt-free life before either of us turned 30. We paid off our mortgage ($111,000 remaining on an original purchase price of $140,000) in March of 2010 and have never picked up debt again.
We originally took out a 30-year mortgage to buy our first house. Three months later we enrolled in Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover class as a gift from my dad. Now we weren’t exactly big spenders prior to the class – our only debt was the mortgage – but Dave’s class opened up our eyes to what was possible if we were completely debt free. It was a complete mindset shift. We started thinking about early retirement, extensive travel, and a less stressful approach to life. About halfway through the class, we committed to trying to pay off our mortgage as soon as possible.
Some of our early successes were finally getting on the same page about expenses and following a written budget. We finally knew exactly where our money was going and could maximize our mortgage payoff and minimize other expenses. We also did our best to maximize our income potential by taking on part-time work (I was in grad school at the beginning of this), and then I landed a full-time position after graduating that paid well but had a heavy commute. (80 miles one way!) We also found creative ways to go on dates that cost little, if any money, which was a great thing for our marriage.
The most challenging aspect of paying off our mortgage was feeling a deprived of a social life – our friends all wanted to go out to dinner, drinks, and live music. That’s hard to do when you are literally counting the pennies it will take to pay off your mortgage. Now that we have a kid, I look back at that time and sometimes wish we had loosened up a little bit. But I will say that if I had a choice between an indebted social life and being debt free, I’ll take debt free any day.
Life after debt
I still don’t have everything figured out. Many days, I feel like I have too many goals and dreams that directly conflict with each other. But my hope is that by sharing what those goals and dreams are (and the ups and downs of achieving them), I will inspire others (maybe you?) to think about life, career, and retirement differently. Life is short and I don’t want to spend it at a desk.
Woman with a Plan is a working professional, married, and a mom. She’s a sometimes runner, a health nut who loves dessert too much, and a personal finance nerd. She decided to “Change the Race” when she finally realized that she DIDN’T have to be like everyone else and work herself to death for someone else’s bottom line.