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10 Things We Learned After Becoming Debt Free

I’m debt free! I’m done! No more budgeting for me! 

Think again, my friend. This Financial Independence ‘thing’ doesn’t stop when you cross the debt free finish line. Your journey is just beginning. 

If you’ve recently had the ‘debt free scream,’ you may want to read down this list of things that we learned after we did the same thing. It may surprise you. 

Money Fights [Still] Happen

When we got married, we entered the union with zero debt. When money came up, I felt like we could shrug it off in a way. After all, I had a YouTube channel focused solely on personal finance. I felt like, “We got this.”

What I didn’t know is that even though we were debt free, it was still so important to learn the psychology of money. Jayme and I came from different backgrounds and had very different ideas of money. 

Don’t be ashamed to seek outside counseling. Make it a priority for yourself and family if you need it. For me personally, counseling was a safe place to get everything out on the table and know that we would be able to work through it in that session with someone helping us. So often we would fight and then walk away without resolving the issue but counseling forced us to resolve those issues. 

Delaying Gratification Is The Name Of The Game 

We have learned to delay and save! My old car was breaking down and I wanted to just go and buy a new car, but going through the debt free journey gave me pause. After so much sacrifice it’s easy to fall back into bad habits. Easier than I’d like to admit. It’s taken a while but now we understand as a couple that delaying gratification has its rewards. 

My husband and I worked really hard to pay cash for our wedding and then my car started going downhill fast. It would’ve been so easy to “treat myself” after that huge accomplishment with a brand new car. Instead we buckled down, sacrificed so many things so that we could pay cash for my dream car in a year. I love my Jeep, every single day that I get in it I am reminded of how hard we worked and proud I am that we paid CASH for it. 

Budgeting Doesn’t Stop Just Because You’re Debt Free 

As I said, it is easy to fall back into old habits if you let yourself. That’s why I was such a stickler with budgeting after we became debt free. Afterall, that’s how you got out of your mess to begin with! Don’t stop because you’re making headway. Financial independence is a journey, not a destination. Part of that journey is continuing habits that you learn along the way. We still budget and have budget meetings. We still save for what we want. We still come together as a couple and discuss money agreements and disagreements.

Click here for my Excel and Google Sheets budget templates with pre-populated formulas.

Look In The Mirror

Yes, my parents and school system didn’t teach me about money, but girl, it’s the 21st century. The internet is here. We are living in the information age. It’s my responsibility to get out there and educate myself. That’s why I started the Freedom In A Budget Youtube channel. I wanted to be that education for people and help others understand the ins and outs of their financial lives. There is no excuse anymore – so go get it. Girls just wanna have funds! 

You Still Need To Set Goals 

After we became debt free, our new goal was to cash flow our wedding. We then decided to save up for a new-to-us car, then a dreamy Alaskan cruise, then a new home, then a rental property as an additional stream of income. My point is to always have a goal that you are working towards. Remember: It’s a journey, not a destination.

People Don’t Care 

Before I started paying off debt, I had to have the best clothes and thought people looked down on me because of my car. In reality, they probably judged me more for not keeping my car clean than the type of car I drove. 

We often put too much pressure on ourselves thinking that the Jones’s are going to judge us. People are more concerned with themselves than they are about what you’re doing. Trust me.

Live Generously

I know this one is going to strike a nerve with a lot of people, but I’m going to say it anyways. I tithed during my debt free journey.

In fact there was one time in my life where I wasn’t tithing and that’s when I was overdrafting on my accounts and struggling with money. Now that we are debt free, we are able to give well over the typical 10%. 

If we hear about someone who is going through cancer treatment, or has uncontrollable medical bills, we help them out. Natural disaster? Sponsoring children in other countries? We are able to give freely without thinking twice. This is the true gift of being financially free.

I had a friend that was going through infertility treatment and God told me to give her $300. It was a very specific number, so I gave her an unsigned card with the cash in it. 

Within five minutes she knew it was me and tried to return it. I told her that “I listened to the Holy Spirit and needed to be obedient.”

Two days later she had an appointment with a specialist and they wanted to do a treatment on her. The copay? $300 exactly. God really restored both of our faith!  

‘Stuff’ < Freedom

I used to be a spender. I loved shopping and buying new things. I always thought quantity over quality was the way to go. Now, I am all about freedom and how I can be intentional with my financial power. Just because I have money in the bank doesn’t mean I have to spend it. Gotta say though, knowing that I could drop cash for a Tesla right now feels pretty cool! 

The Best Stress Reliever Is Being Prepared 

An Emergency fund will give you more peace of mind than you can imagine. The ‘average’ American can’t handle a $400 emergency. Right now with the government shutting down due to Corona Virus, this ‘emergency fund’ discussion seems to be ramping up. 

My husband’s job laid off 5 people yesterday and more layoffs are coming. Am I a little scared? Of course, but at the end of the day I know we will be okay because we have put in place a solid emergency fund. I recommend keeping your emergency fund in a high-yield savings account so that you are making interest and grows while giving you peace of mind that it will be there if you need it. 

The Hard Work Was Worth It

Yes, the sacrifice sucked. Yes, I wanted to go out to eat more and take more vacations. But not having that debt now? Wow, does it feel amazing. The weight lifted off your shoulders is a feeling like no other and gives you multiple options for your life. That is what financial independence and living a debt free life is all about!

What have you learned on your debt free journey? Did I leave anything out? Let me know your thoughts.

Ways I save money:

Fetch Rewards is a free grocery savings app that rewards you just for snapping pictures of your receipts. That’s really it. Free gift cards on groceries on thousands of products every day, no matter where you get your groceries. Just scan your receipts and get gift cards from places like Amazon, Target, Ulta, Applebees. Use code QHKBH to earn 2,000 points ($2)!

Rakuten/Ebates: Rakuten is my to go way to earn Cash Back from over 2,500 stores like Macy’s, Amazon, Sephora, Walmart and much more. Join Rakuten today for free, and you’ll get a $10 Cash Bonus to get you started! Every three months, you’ll get a Big Fat Check in the mail or a PayPal payment just for shopping. 

Credit Sesame offers Credit Score and Monitoring, Savings Recommendations and Identity Theft Protection. ALL FOR FREE.

CIT Bank offers CDs and savings accounts that provide a safe, secure way to grow your savings.

M1 Finance is an easy to use brokerage platform that allows you to invest in Fractional Shares and auto reinvest!

Webull Get 2 Free Stocks on WeBull when you deposit $100 (Valued up to $1400).

• Gabi is a full-service, online advisor who compares all your insurance options to find you the right policy, all in under two minutes.

Budget Templates: Excel budget templates with pre-populated categories and formulas to keep you on track with hitting your financial goals.

   
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