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The problem with debt is that it can become so normalized. Debt is a national pastime and it seems like nearly everyone has it.
Not having debt goes against the status quo.
All of this can add to the difficulty of paying off debt. Doing something that most people don’t do can be isolating and tough, but let me tell you something.
Being debt-free provides you with freedom. It provides you with more choices. Having that extra money allows you to pay for your future, not your past. It allows you to do the things you’ve always dreamed of, while also dealing with some of life’s difficulties — without it being a crisis.
I’ve been debt-free a little over a year now. In many ways, I’m living my “debt-free dream”. I work for myself. I moved back to Los Angeles. I was able to go on the Italy trip my mom and I talked about for nearly a decade.
Just last week, I was able to whisk my mom away for her big 6-0 birthday bash. We went to New Orleans and had a ridiculous, joyous time. These are memories that will last a lifetime.
These things were all out of reach for me not that long ago. To be able to do the things I only dreamed of is so incredibly sweet. But debt freedom isn’t just about the sweetness, it’s about the sour, too.
By being debt-free, I’ve also been able to better deal with the hard times instead of going into panic mode. It seems the year has just begun, but there’s already been some tough times behind-the-scenes.
Some clients have put their content on pause or shifted their strategies, which directly affects my income. I’m putting my heart and soul into another project that is bigger than myself — but is also risky (launching soon!).
On top of that, I’m dealing with a health scare that is leaving me a bit frazzled and distracted. At some point, I might write about it, but I’m currently in it and simply trying to take care of myself.
All of these things have been incredibly stressful. Life can have unfortunate timing, especially when it comes to accomplishing your goals and dreams.
But being debt-free makes it so much more manageable.
As soon as I realized I would be going to the doctor more often, I put $500 in a Capital One Savings Account called “Medical”. That amount happens to be my deductible through Liberty Healthshare. I didn’t want to be caught off guard.
I’ve also been allowing myself not to worry about work as much, or hustling hard. And I’m grateful I can do that at this point, thanks to my emergency fund. If I was dealing with some of this stuff while paying off debt things would be much worse.
My point with all of this is that life is going to happen, for better or worse. Your dreams and your freedom are right on the other side of debt.
As you can see, being debt-free isn’t just some magical fairyland devoid of problems — life can still throw you some curveballs.
Being debt-free allows you to deal with crises on their own, without having a chunk of your paycheck already spoken for. It allows you the freedom to deal with what comes your way, without having the emotional and financial drain of debt.
I remember when I began my debt payoff journey, it felt like I would never get there. It seemed so far away, like a destination I’d never reach. But I did.
What was the shift that made it all happen? I started treating debt as a crisis.
I realized that debt was holding me back from my dreams. It was affecting my relationship. It took a toll on my mental health (feeling shame, guilt, depression, and anxiety) and my physical health (hustling all the time). It was this heavy weight that was always there.
I made the mental switch that there was no other choice but to become debt-free, NO MATTER WHAT.
I am now on the other side of debt, dealing with some other personal and professional stressors. But I am managing. If I had debt still, I’d be in straight up panic mode.
I want you to experience debt-freedom so you can have a chance at living your life to the fullest.
What people don’t tell you is that you have to change your mindset first. Action follows thoughts and if your mind isn’t in it, you’re not going anywhere. Tell yourself there is no other choice but to become debt free and that you will do whatever it takes to get there — no matter the time frame.
This also means being uncomfortable. You will need to cut back on certain things that you probably see as a given in your lifestyle. It means hustling more and working more hours. None of this stuff is fun, I’m not going to lie.
In 4.5 years, I was able to pay off the $68,000 I had left after NYU — after already paying my loans for 5 years before that! Paying off that amount was hard and at times I wondered if I would ever live the life I knew I was meant to live. At that time, I did a lot of work I didn’t want to do. I scrimped where I didn’t want to.
It was all worth it though. And I want that for you. Now, I think it’s more important than ever to get your financial ducks in a row and pay off that debt. We live in uncertain times and while money can’t save everything, it certainly helps.
So I urge you. This year, commit to paying off debt. Start small and put your spare change toward debt. Make biweekly payments instead of monthly payments. Put $10 more to debt. Focus on slashing the big three expenses: housing, food, and transportation.
You can do this.