What being debt-free means to me

debt free means

I just turned 30 and I have been in debt since I was 19 years old.

This debt does not include a mortgage. It has always consisted of student loans, and for a brief period, a few thousand dollars of credit card debt.

I recently ran my numbers for 2018, looking ahead to the year where I will finally be able to get rid of my debt for the first time in eleven years. 

I should be able to make my last payment in July 2018. That means eight more months of pouring anywhere from $400-$1300 each month toward my debt repayment.

My stretch goal, depending on my side hustles, is to get it done by May 2018.

It is hard for me to explain what this debt has created in my life. For those who have not spent a good proportion of their lives with this burden, it might be strange to imagine what it feels like to know that any dollar coming in is not really yours to spend, that it belongs to someone else.

It is even more difficult to explain what being in debt has done to my relationships, my mental health, and my overall well-being. I have tried. I talked about how my scarcity mindset started to erode my relationship. I talked about how I paid off 7K of debt in 7 months to try and tear through as much of it as I could ASAP. Somehow, in these posts, I don’t know how well I have ever managed to communicate just what being in debt has done to me.

But now that the deadline is fast approaching, I have thought a lot about my why for paying off the last 20K of debt so quickly and what being debt-free will mean to me.

So in honour of my 30th birthday coming and going, here are 30 things I look forward to this year that a debt-free life will afford me:

  1. I’ll be able to get a dog, and know that I will be able to take care of it.
  2. I can take more nights and weekends off from side hustling.
  3. I can treat my mom to lunch more often.
  4. I can buy more lattes.
  5. I can stop thinking about how that $4 for my latte should have been used to pay off debt.
  6. I will be able to treat dear friends to a glass of wine or a coffee without stressing so much.
  7. I can go back to physiotherapy, even though my benefits are maxed out.
  8. I will up my monthly donations to two charities near and dear to my heart.
  9. I will take care of my health in ways that I might hesitate to with debt.
  10. I will TRIPLE my monthly contributions to my Tax-Free Savings Account.
  11. I can build my emergency fund into a real F-U fund.
  12. I want to travel to new countries and new cities.
  13. I will increase my savings toward the wedding I might one day want.
  14. I want to go out and see more live music.
  15. I can send loved ones care packages.
  16. I will pay for music lessons or art classes.
  17. I can ditch side hustles that don’t fulfill me.
  18. I want to take more road trips.
  19. I will buy books that I love and want to have on my bookshelf.
  20. I will have more freedom to build a business if I want.
  21. I will enjoy the comfort of knowing that my emergency fund will go way further in case of a job loss.
  22. I will start seriously saving for a down payment on my own home.
  23. I will never have to make relationship decisions based on my financial situation.
  24. I can take more risks in my career.
  25. I can pay for language learning materials.
  26. I will drink the occasional $20, and not $10, bottle of wine.
  27. I can actually begin to contemplate the expenses associated with having children, and think more seriously about whether I would like to start a family one day.
  28. I will buy all the yarn to knit my terrible creations.
  29. I will visit my family – who are scattered across Canada – more often.
  30. I will know that I have infinitely more options, choices, and freedom.

What is your why for paying down debt? What are you so looking forward to when the day of your final payment comes?

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7 thoughts on “What being debt-free means to me

  1. I just turned 30 this past April and I have had student loans since I was 21, so I definitely know where you’re coming from. A lot of the things you listed are also things I’m looking forward to (including getting a dog and drinking more wine…without the guilt!) I will be just getting started on paying off my loans, so I probably have 4-5 more years before I’m done, but I’m sure it’s very exciting for you to be so close to getting rid of yours. Congrats in advance!

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    1. Thank you so much! I am beyond excited to hit that milestone next summer. I know it can seem a little overwhelming when you are right at the beginning of the journey, but I am excited for you to start paying off your debt! There are definitely trade-offs that come with debt repayment, but it is so so worth it. Your future self will be so grateful you made these decisions in a few years’ time. Best of luck and looking forward to following your progress!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. you finished your educational credentials in a timely manner and congrats on that. now you have those in your pocket and they will make you money over time. so..you missed out on some compounding by not saving earlier but as somebody who’s been down the same road now you can think “i’ve been there and done that.” with the experiences. they have value too, just not monetary.
    you’ve made a series of sweet maneuvers! i’m almost 50 and we just paid off our house a few years ago and finished off my student loans about 6 years ago in my 40’s. deferral is a tool of el diablo to keep us from our independent best. i’m glad you didn’t get a dog until you had your house in order. they can be costly and time consuming. pro tip: train the dog well enough to be a good house guest you can leave with a friend if you travel. ours is kind of a butt head of a guest so we pay kennel fees.
    rock on!

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    1. Thanks so much for your supportive words. I could not agree more – getting a dog was absolutely something that had to be put on hold until my finances were in order. My family always had dogs growing up and I saw firsthand just how bloody expensive they can be. Lesson learned! And good advice, will definitely try to get my pup trained up so I can take advantage of family/friend pet sitters while away 🙂 boarding the dog at a kennel is definitely another expense I have taken into consideration though.

      Congrats on getting your own finances to such a great place! I have been chatting with a few people lately that have fallen victim to the deferral trap. It’s always nice to hear when people take the reins back and start aggressively paying down their debt after long deferrals!

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  3. I love this, Kate! I’m excited for your last debt repayment come July, not too long now 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by! I am at that point where I almost have enough disposable cash to pay it off all at once – so tempting! – but I’m holding off for now. Will have a post coming on that soon. Just checked out your blog btw, and love it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know that feeling all too well! You’re so close though, and it’s nice to have a savings pot at the end of your debt repayment too. I’ll be following to see how you get on!

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