Gifting Myself a Debt Free Life


Why am I working so hard to get out of debt? To those of us in the personal finance world, the answer seems obvious. To be out of debt. To start saving. To have real control over my finances. To one day reach financial independence.

Yet to some people, my decision to get out of debt and my drive about it is almost inconceivable. Debt has become so normal that getting out of it is seen as a radical act. Especially among people of my generation, where the student loan debt crisis has forever change our relationship to money and the way we live our lives. We are carrying more debt and for longer amounts of time.  The class of 2014 is the most indebted ever, with the average graduate carrying $33,000 worth of student loan debt.

Carrying this debt is causing my generation to get married later, postpone buying homes, start families later and take fewer risks in the stock market with their investments. We have raised a generation of people who are financially paralyzed. The average American also carries $15,611 in credit card debt. Then there’s medical debt, mortgages, car payments…the list is seemingly never ending. Everywhere you turn, people offer credit as a way to pay for things.

Debt has become normalized. Everyone has it and everyone assumes they will always have it. People think they need debt to provide for themselves or to ‘get ahead.’ I’ve come to hate the phrase ‘get ahead.’ In my personal experience and looking at the facts and figures for the average American, ‘getting ahead’ seems to consist almost solely of digging oneself deeper into debt on the word of promises. People tell you that a college degree is necessary but it saddles you with debt the moment you graduate. And the world you’re graduating into has changed drastically in the last decade. People are working jobs that didn’t exist in the 20th century, like Social Media Manager. And thanks to the internet, we have streamlined many jobs that used to belong to people. Why hire a calligrapher to write your wedding invites when you can send them for free using Paperless Post? Even websites like Fiverr, which gives people a chance to sell their skills, forces people to sell their labor for far less than it may be worth.

In my humble opinion, getting out of debt ASAP is the best thing I can do for myself in a variety of ways. For my entire life I have been short on money. Growing up my mom was digging herself out of debt, getting her master’s and raising three kids by herself- money was tight. I was saddled with debt right out of college and struggling to find a full time job (something I still haven’t done) meant more years of low income and constant debt payments.

present_pileDebt freedom, early retirement, travel- each packaged so prettily!

I don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck all my life. Being debt free means so much to me. It means I can spend my money however I want! It means I can start saving for retirement and possibly leave the work force early. I can travel, I can go out to eat, I can save for a home. Debt payments keep me from doing any of those things, at least in full force. Gifting myself debt freedom means making the most out of the rest of my life.

When any part of your paycheck goes towards debt, you don’t own your own life. You don’t control your own future. You know that you are definitely going to have to make those debt payments, or your situation will only get worse. With student loans in particular, you can’t declare bankruptcy and they will go after family or friends to get to you. I don’t want to spend my life being hounded by corporations, accruing interest by the day and seeing part of my money disappear. Debt freedom means the world to me.

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