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I have read every big debt free journey blog out there. Maybe not every single one, but I have read a lot. I spend countless hours every week going through Pinterest finance pins to schedule on my Tailwind! I spend so much of my very little free time on other blogs reading their stories. Using their lives to encourage myself to keep going. I get up early (some mornings) and work on my blog. Days that I have a longer break in between the two jobs are spent looking through Pinterest. I get off after 12 hour days and focus on knocking out content for my own blog.
They all tell you how great it feels to be debt free! Even write about things they do because they are debt free. They list a million reasons why you need to start your debt free journey right that moment. I talk about how absolutely great it is to be able to pay off $1,500 of debt in one month. Because it is, it feels amazing. They tell you that you just need to give up these 5 certain items and you will be debt free in no time.
Heck. I’m a blogger. I do this. But we all know that isn’t how it works. I started my debt free journey in January of 2017 and blogging about it at about the same time. I knew if I put my goals out there, there would be no reason for me not to complete them.
But there are soo many things bloggers don’t talk about.
What the bloggers don’t tell you is that while on your debt free journey, you will miss doing cool things with your friends and family sometimes. You will sit in the office with your “sad” lunch while you watch everyone else leaving together to go grab some great food. You may end up working through your lunch because you are the only one left in the office. Because you probably have two jobs now, you may eat more meals in your car or at your desk than you do at the dinner table. And most of those meals will probably be chicken, rice, and beans. 70% of my meals are eaten at my desk, standing up in my kitchen moments before I walk out the door, or at red lights while driving to work. And most of them consist of a meat and a container of rice or pasta.
For holidays, you will probably find the absolute cheapest way to make it through the holidays. You will avoid large gatherings of people, because they usually get expensive. You may just avoid the holiday all together if you can. Saving money for Christmas isn’t easy when you want to buy everything. It is possible.
They recommend to get a “Dave” job, or a second income of some kind so you can really pay off that extra debt. But what they don’t say is that you will be exhausted and sore at the end of your 12-16 hour days. After 12+ hours at work, you will see that the house is a mess or that laundry needs done. You will become an expert at multitasking and making the most of every single minute.
When you start your debt free journey, you will find yourself doing crazy things.
If you are on Instagram, you will see other people on their journey doing things like No Spend Months and Pantry Challenges. No spend months consist of cutting anything excess out of the budget. They are tough, but can be extremely rewarding. There will be months were you don’t buy any groceries to see how long you can live on chicken breast and brown rice. You will find yourself putting $1000 a month towards debt, but refusing to spend $3 on a coffee.
There will be days when you will just stay home because you are avoiding anything that costs money. Mostly because you have none. You will tell everyone you are “broke” even though that may not be 100% true. What some people don’t know, won’t hurt them.
The absolute worst thing that happens is when you try to explain to people why you can’t buy a soda from the work soda machine because you spent all of your “spending money” for the week. They will look at you like you are nuts. In fact you are nuts, because why not just pull 75 cents from somewhere else, but you won’t. You will sip on your water instead. But you will live.
Because your debt free journey will change your life completely.
It will completely change the way you look at money for the rest of your life. All of these negative sacrifices will happen. They also don’t tell you the positive things.
Every day, when you are eating lunch at your desk alone, you are scrolling through your #debtfreecommunity Instagram and watching everyone else killing it on their debts. You will see someone else who just paid off more than you and it will encourage you to work harder next month. Instagram becomes your main source of inspiration to keep going.
And, the truth is, you were kind of looking forward to the leftovers because last night’s meal was so good. And it didn’t cost much to make. It is funny how creative you get when you have nothing but noodles, tuna, cheese, some frozen fruit and beer in your apartment. Coincidentally, you will feel a ton better because you are eating less and some options are much healthier.
Cheap holidays aren’t all bad either. Some of my favorite holiday memories through my debt free journey have cost less than $10 because I finally started making holidays more about the people I get to spend them with and what we could do together than I do about what we are doing and where we are going. Pinterest is the life saver for cheap holiday ideas! My favorite holidays have been spent by my free apartment pool with friends. Christmas on a budget is totally possible with a few tips.
Bloggers don’t tell you that when you are finally debt free, you can go sit on whatever beach you want and pay cash for it because you don’t have any credit card payments, student loans, car payments, or house payments. You will sit on the beach gleefully (hopefully with a margarita in your hand) because there is nothing holding you back from your dream vacation! Or you can just say no to working as much, which is just as great. Find out what I did on my first day of being debt free.
Yes, people look at me like I am crazy.
I am a young millennial, working 50-70 hour weeks and maintaining my internet presence for this blog in hopes of someday making my blog my full time job! I am a little crazy. But when I explain to them that at 30 years old, I will be sitting in a home that is 100% paid for, with no credit card payments, student loans, or car payments, they don’t think that I am so crazy anymore. They start asking me how instead of why.
What they also don’t tell you is how fantastic it feels that pay day morning when you get to make your last payment on your first big snowball. When I paid off my first student loan, I cried a little. Because it was gone. And I wouldn’t owe any more money to that loan. Ever. The second and third account that you pay off just keep getting better and better. When you pay off your last debt, it won’t even feel real. You will sit in silence for a little while. It may even be days before you really comprehend what you accomplished.
They don’t tell you about the roller coaster of emotions when you do get paid and realize that half of your paycheck can go to extra debt payments. But it definitely is one roller coaster after another. It will all be worth it when everything is completely paid off. They don’t tell you the true sacrifices you will have to make. They don’t tell you, because there is no way to describe these to people who aren’t on their journey yet. There are no words to describe the challenges, sacrifices, joys, and excitement of this journey.
So don’t start your debt free journey.
Don’t start your journey unless you are ready to deal with all the sacrifice that it takes. Ready to give up eating out for every lunch during the work week and that $5 Starbucks on the way to work. Don’t start it if you aren’t ready for a little criticism from people. People will tell you that it is normal to have debt, which they aren’t necessarily wrong.
But who wants to be paying off a degree they don’t really use, a house that they have paid for 3 times over after all of the interest (without maintenance expenses), or even that dress that they bought on a credit card. Normal people pay on their student loans until they are in their 50s and 60s! Normal people pay on average 3x more than their house is worth after the interest is applied over 30 years. Those same people buy gas on their credit cards and then pay interest rates that make gas over $6 a gallon. If you wouldn’t pay that at the pump, why would you pay it on your credit card?
Do you really want to be normal?
I had no clue all of this was going to happen when I started this blog.
I started writing more about saving money and I noticed a huge change in my entire mindset. But I am so glad that I started documenting every step of my debt free journey. I can’t wait to look back to see the crazy things that I did to get there.
If you are on your debt free journey and you don’t have a blog, start now for $3.95/month and document every single piece of your journey. All of your crazy goals and intense challenges that change your entire life as they are happening. Also, I wrote a great tutorial on how to set up your blog if you want the step by step!
If you haven’t started your debt free journey and don’t understand any of this, check out my blog posts. Also, (what I believe to be) the first step of any motivated debt free journey is to read Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. This $12 book saved my future years. When I am 30, I will be living in a house that I 100% own with no payments. I will be able to decide what that means for my career. How freaking cool is that going to be! Get his book and start your journey today!