What I learned after becoming debt free.

For the past two years Francisco and I were on a journey to finally becoming free of our debt. It was not easy but we did it! Hard work does pay off! (I know… so cliche) Now that we have been a few months debt free a lot of things internally have changed and not so much has changed either. I guess old habits die hard right? I personally have a sense of relief that makes our lives more peaceful. It is like a pressure has been taken away. It is hard to explain but it feels good to know that we don’t owe anything to anyone. I am not trying to rub it into peoples faces, instead I want others (like our friends and family or anyone needing help) to know that we are here to help in any way we can. Show you what WE did to help us and cheer YOU on in your journey! It was not easy to, but thankful to God the hubby stood by my side, he was supportive, pitched in and shared the joys that came along from the journey. With the journey a lot of hard times came too. Decisions we made at the time to save money and use it to pay debt. Sacrifices we made along the way that were only momentarily.

Now that life is a little easier with no debt I have come to the realization that having debt is NOT normal. We don’t need to live beyond our means and own cars that take a huge lump out of our monthly budget. Who cares if people think my car looks old or isn’t the latest model! It gets me from point A to B and that is what matters! Better yet, it is FULLY ours! But as the “norm” we feel the need to have the nicer things in life and that is fine if we could afford it. If we can’t afford something we DON’T need to compare ourselves to what the “norm” is doing. It is hard to have self control and I am still guilty of blowing off steam by shopping (i know you ladies understand) but now my priorities have shifted. I don’t impulse buy as much and if I really want something (like those pair of Louboutins shoes) then I will make sure I can pay cash for them. Work hard and save hard! And at times I have become stingy with MY money that I worked so hard for. And that is okay too!

I have become more confident too! I can care less what people think. I’m fine with driving an older car model. Wearing second hand clothing and I am also fine on splurging on $500 pair of shoes too! (I can do that now and pay for it when I have the cash. I actually save what we allot for my monthly “commission” to use it towards personal things I might want). I guess you can say I shop smart now! I’m not trying to please anyone but my family ( The hubby and my kid) that is it! I became more goal driven for my family! I have a purpose for my money now! And that is to enjoy it and have enough to not work for it as I age! It feels good to have a plan! I’m not gonna lie, we stray away sometimes and it is normal to do so. We are human after all and sometimes we have those needs and wants. But the difference is that I pay for it with cash when I can and not charge it and owe a bank for it.

It is also hard to not think I deserve something because I am debt free. Sometimes I won’t lie… I second guess myself and when I want something I think that I worked hard and deserve it and NEED it. But then I step back and analyze how happy that would really make me. Sometimes it is impulse and it will go away. We have a 72 hour rule. If you want it after 72 hours then come back for it. Even if at the moment we had the cash for it. We practice that rule with Frankie and more than half the time he forgets. This shows us and him that it wasn’t really a need but a want.

Another thing I have realized since becoming debt free is that I cheap out on other things when i shouldn’t. But at the same time I have become more generous with my money and that is a great thing! i want to be able to help with my money. We can give to our church more frequently and more $, we can help out the community with donations and at the same time show our son that money doesn’t come easy and it has a very important purpose which is to move it along. Use it, invest it and don’t stash it. Whether it is using it for a splurge every so often, or investing it, or saving it for later, but it always moves! Don’t stash it like our grandparents did. What for? So you can have your kids fighting for it later on after you die. Heck No! I made and earn the money and I will enjoy it with my husband! I will set up my kid for success as much as I can and he is on his own after that. Of course, I will help our son out when in need but I am being a little tough on him now because I am teaching him that HE has to earn it and that it is not given to him. We are very generous and I will be the first to admit we splurge on Frankie’s activities and parties, but I personally enjoy that. He has to earn his other things. Those wants he has.

I’ve learned that it gets easier to make choices and not let them worry you. Like leaving our jobs. Right now I am blessed with a great job that I am enjoying (not church related for once) and my husband was able to also leave and find new possibilities and it felt good for both of us to be home for a month and enjoy family time!  It was a much needed break. Those worries are gone when you know that just ONE of your paychecks covers all your expenses! It is a great feeling! I get asked a lot why not stay home, be more present in Frankie’s life? Well, I am not that kind of woman. I am not motherly. I know that sounds wrong and I LOVE my kid, but I am not a stay-at-home kinda mom. I need to wake up and have a purpose to get ready in the morning. I need to feel useful and I need to be active with things other than house or family stuff. It is a blessing being able to chip in as a woman and still do 99% of everything a woman does around the house. YES… as a woman we have responsibilities, as a wife we have duties and so do men as husband and as fathers. I am old school to an extend, but don’t keep me at home baking, cleaning and popping out kids. Nope! not for me!

Lastly, I have learned that now is the time to save even more. We can become too complacent with our lifestyle once it becomes easier so we have to think of the future and invest our money. Make memories today at the moment when you can too because we never know what the future holds or what plans God has in our lives.