My Money Mindset, Post Debt

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Paying off all my student loan debt was the best thing I have ever done for myself and my finances. It’s made everything better. Becoming debt free doesn’t mean suddenly becoming wealthy though, or even financially stable. While not having to make a debt payment each month does mean ownership of my money I am still a low income earner. My next step in my financial life is determined by my every day money mindset.

In my post debt haze I had a month of being incredibly lax on the financial front. I spent a lot of money (for me) in June and for the most part didn’t think twice about. I bought a few dinners out, a few cups of coffee and a lot of alcohol. Having spent the last 10 months on total spending lockdown and working my butt off to earn as much as I could, I allowed myself to have a whole month of ‘treat yoself’.

It was a strange experience and ultimately, not something that made me happy. Even though I was giving myself permission to spend willy nilly I didn’t feel comfortable doing so. The thing about it is, I like living frugally. Spending money when and where I didn’t have to doesn’t make me feel good. And at my current salary, spending mindlessly is something that can easily hurt me.

When I was in debt I always had the thought in the back of my mind that any non-essential spending should be spent on my debt. Not a dinner out, not a weekend away but straight to my debt. Thinking like that allowed me to pay off almost $16,000 in 10 months. I lived that money mindset day in and day out.

Now that I’m debt free I’m realizing that that mindset is still there but in a different form. Rather than the thought that any non-essential spending should go towards debt now it’s that any non-essential spending is keeping me from financial freedom. My money mindset is now to procure financial stability and then freedom.

This is especially true as a low income earner. The fact that I make less than $28,000 a year means that saving is all the more crucial to me and my future. I have to be acutely aware of where all my money goes because there just isn’t that much of it. Just like with paying off debt though, you have to start somewhere if you want to be financially secure. I plan on continuing to live my frugal lifestyle and funneling all the money I can into my savings and my investments. I’ve spoken before about wanting to max out my IRA this year and increase my emergency account. Those are still very definitely my short term plans.

I will achieve these short term goals through frugality. By keeping my money mindset in a similar place as it was with my debt payoff- funneling extra money towards savings- I am becoming more financially secure each day. That security is my biggest dream.

My longer term plans though, are to live a life where money is not the focus. I was totally obsessed with paying off my debt. It controlled my life. I would spend my free time calculating how to make it diminish faster. I read every single article out there about debt payoff. It was always on my mind. While in the end it definitely got me what I wanted I certainly don’t want to live my whole life with that kind of focus and energy on my money. Money is a tool I want to use, not something I want to be used by. 

So I guess you could say that my money mindset post debt is one where I value each dollar for what it’s potential is. A dollar saved is a dollar earned right? I identify very strongly with that idea and it’s one I feel comfortable living my life by right now. There are a lot of things I want out of the rest of my life that money can help me get. I want those things more than I want to spend thoughtlessly right now.

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12 Replies to “My Money Mindset, Post Debt”

  1. Love your long-term mindset of not being ruled by money. And it’s great that you had a “treat yoself” month — one, just to get it out of your system, and two, to show you that that spending which you missed while you were in budget lockdown doesn’t actually make you happy. That’s a super important life lesson that you can only learn by trying it out!

    1. Honestly, growing up without a lot of money and then immediately being in debt right after college put me in a mindset of always wanting. Wanting to keep up with the Jones, wanting to be carefree with money. Turns out I don’t like that at all! It’s so good to know this now and to be able to focus on saving without feeling like its a sacrifice.

  2. “Money is a tool I want to use, not something I want to be used by. ”
    love that

    i’m actually in pretty decent financial position but I still don’t like to spend a lot. Unless it’s something I absolutely want and have some type of need for, spending money actually makes me feel weird in a way.

    1. That’s awesome you’re in a good spot. I don’t think you should feel guilt for spending but I think you should spend smartly. You want to stay in that good position!

  3. I think most of us share the common goal of living a future life where money is a tool rather than the end all be all. I don’t want my life or my relationships to be measured by the size of my bank account. Or retirement account. You get the idea. Keep up the good writing and keep up the saving! Take care,
    Dylan

    1. Thanks! I think most of us in the personal finance community share this goal but I don’t know about the rest of the population. It seems like the pursuit of money is a priority to some people. I plan to just keep my nose to the grindstone and do me. =)

      1. Good thinking. Right there with you!
        Take care,
        Dylan

  4. Reblogged this on Dream Big, Dream Often and commented:
    This young lady may not make a lot of money, but her future is bright! She is debt-free, has a plan to save and lives within her means. We could all take notes from her!!

  5. You have a great plan and you should be so thankful to be debt-free! Congratulations on your success and look forward to reading about your progress!

    1. Thank you! I do feel happy and thankful to be debt free now. Living with debt was really difficult. Now it’s all about saving. Thanks for reading!

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