It’s one of those days where it just seems so far away. The day I will be out of debt seems so far out of reach, it seems silly to even think about it. But if I don’t think about it or plan for it, all my progress will fall to the way side and my 7.9% interest will blow things out of proportion.

I have classmates who don’t care about the student loan debt they accrued. To be honest, sometimes I wish I could feel that way. They easily dismiss the burden saying, “I’ll just pay the minimum for 25 years and then the government will forgive it”. I am not trying to be 53 years old when I pay off my student loans.  I want to be focusing on bigger, better things. Living life, planning my next adventure.

When I was protesting student loans at Occupy Wall Street in October of 2011, I met a 72 year old woman who said the government was garnishing her social security wages due to an unpaid student loan.

I gasped.

This was my worst nightmare standing right in front of me.  I kept thinking how awful that would be, to be 72 years old and have your meager social security check get cut in half because of an education you tried to pay for many many many years ago.

Although I am political and believe student loans are evil, I am beyond hope for a bailout and know full well what I got myself into. I just think higher education has become a scam.

So on this day, where I can’t even imagine what being debt free would look like, feel like, numerically or emotionally, I have to remind myself why it is important to me.

What does being debt free mean to me?

It means never having to fork over $1,000 a month or more, for an education that wasn’t worth it. It means that I get to own every cent of my pay and do whatever I please. Being debt free means having the freedom to make bigger life choices, like moving, weddings, kids, houses (not that I necessarily want those things) and not feel utterly trapped. It means being able to fulfill your potential, take bigger risks with your career and not have nightmares about your money getting flushed down the toilet. It means feeling secure, planning, saving, traveling, exploring and living! Most of all, it means freedom. Freedom to make the choices I want to or need to, without remorse or feeling like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. It means that all my financial planning will be increasing my net-worth and security.  It means finally taking my mom on that trip to Italy, so she can finally see for herself why traveling is so important.

I have to remind myself of this everyday—like daily affirmations. It is so easy to lose focus, give up, pretend it doesn’t exist and say fuck it. But I am investing in my future. I am investing in my future happiness and the adventures that have yet to be written.

What does being debt free mean to you?

Melanie

Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at DearDebt.com.

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

4 Responses to “What does being debt free mean to you?”

  1. I think we all have those times where the task seems to insurmountable, or so far away, and we each have to go through the same process as you to remind ourselves of why we are doing what we are doing. I don’t have a lot of debt (around 1k), but that’s money that should be going to retirement. For me it’s about making more money, and spending less money (preferably the first!), and the journey can be frustrating, but there have been so many positives that have some from it. Hang in there!

    • doordebt says:

      I totally hear ya! Making more money is very important and necessary for me right now. It would help a whole lot in this paying off debt thing. It’s important to stay focused on goals! Thanks for your encouragement :)

  2. Keep at it!! It’s definitely a huge mountain to climb. Maybe have something around to remind you of why you want to pay off your student loan debt sooner rather than later. I’m a visual person and maybe having a little postcard of Italy on your dresser will keep your motivation up during these hard days.

    We all have these down days, believe me! It always brings me down when I see how much of my payment goes to interest rather than the principal! That alone helps me make extra payments, even if it’s just a couple bucks. It helps out in the long run!

    Good Luck to you and keep your head up!

  3. doordebt says:

    Thanks for the support Ron! Yes, I think I will invest in a world map to decorate my living room/inspire motivation. I just made another $600 payment….every payment I make I think of where I could go with that money, and it’s so frustrating. The interest is killer….7.9% is just awful. I miss the good ol’ days, when student loans were hovering around 3%. Luckily my undergrad loans are still at 2.8%, but the majority is my grad loans at 7.9%. Must stay focused and positive! We can do it!

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