Where are you in your personal finance journey? Notice that I didn’t ask where you were in your debt-free journey. This was intentional: while I have embraced the idea of being out of debt as a better way for me—and hope this blog helps others tackle their debt too—if being debt-free can’t be your primary goal right now, that is okay. Making progress on your debt can be enough.
I love to listen to podcasts and consume many hours a day, even listening at 1.25 speed so I can get through more content. The other day, I was listening to one where two bloggers discussed mistakes they had made early in their blogging lives and it inspired me to write this post.
One—a personal finance blogger—mentioned that early on he had been so gung-ho about his experience with getting out of debt that he probably came across as a bit of jerk with his early insistence that there was just no reason to continue to be in debt or to take on new debt.
I can totally understand his enthusiasm. It feels so freaking amazing to see my debt going away that I can’t help but want everyone to get out of debt and experience what I am experiencing. That said, I don’t want you to think I believe being in debt—or taking on new debt—makes you a bad person or means a good life is out of reach.
I don’t want you to think I believe being in debt—or taking on new debt—makes you a bad person or means a good life is out of reach.
My Debt-Filled Good Life
My life before I started my debt snowball was a good life (hence the name of my blog). I would go so far as to say it was a good life because of some of the things I had bought on credit. Here are two examples.
My law degree. I tend to be a bit negative when people tell me they are thinking about going to law school, especially if they tell me they aren’t interested in practicing law (don’t do it, people!!). Law school isn’t cheap and it is three years of your life (four years if you go part-time like I did) that you will never get back.
Despite this attitude, I can’t deny I got a lot out of the experience in addition to the $38,000 in student loan debt. It honed my thinking skills, made me a better writer and through it I met some amazing people.
I also came out of it with a lot more confidence in myself. This might have happened anyway because I was in my thirties and I think that decade lends itself to becoming more comfortable with who you are, but since I can’t say for sure, I will attribute it to kicking butt in law school (I graduate tenth in my class).
My 2014 Subaru Forester. I love my Subaru. It is such a fun car to drive and it is just the right size for my needs. I love the sunroof and the leather seats and especially how safe I feel in it. I bought it for around $29,000 as a 40th birthday present for myself to replace my 2001 Forester. I bought both my 2001 and 2014 Subarus brand new (I know—gasp!) and don’t regret it a bit. I am a single woman and I like knowing everything about the car I drive. I also know that I will drive the car for as long as it is reliable, which with a Subaru is easily 10 years.
My Debt-Free Better Life
Unfortunately, while taking on debt may not have previously had a negative effect on my life, that stopped being the case by spring of 2016. My salary was in the low six-figures by that point, and I had saved a good amount for retirement, but I had started to feel like I was walking around in cement flip flops.
I had paid so much toward my student loans and had so little to show for it. I had invested so much in my career and yet felt more disconnected from my job with each passing day. I had reached a point where something had to change.
I focused in on three areas of my life in particular: my debt, my career, and my heath. This intense focus is paying off and has made me so enthusiastic about my future that of course I want to convince you to tackle those areas of your life that aren’t working, and to share what worked for me so it can work for you too.
I just have to remember that maybe your focus right now is on your family and your health, or your family and career. Or something completely different. Whatever your focus, if being debt-free isn’t on the list, then progress with your debt is enough.
But I’m Still Going to Talk about Making Progress on Your Debt
I am not giving up on helping and encouraging readers to be debt-free, however. The benefits are just too good. Without debt,
- You can use all of your salary to build wealth, not just the amount left over after paying all of your obligations.
- You also have significantly more flexibility when it comes to your work. You like your job and want to keep it? Great. You want to switch professions, stay home with your kids, or go into business for yourself? That is great too. When you reduce the claims on your income, you increase your options in other areas of your life.
I pledge to do this as someone who is also striving to live a better life, not a perfect life.