Debt Free News: My Debt Free Journey

Debt Free News EOD

Not sure if interviewing yourself really counts as an interview.  I thought it would be helpful to some to see what we struggled with and how we handled the task of becoming debt free.  Furthermore, if you have any other questions for me feel free to ask them in the comment section.  Happy Debt Free Friday!

The Enemy of Debt Questionnaire – EOD

Question 1: First of all how much debt have you paid off, and when did this journey begin?  Are you completely 100% debt free, including the mortgage?

We have paid off 26,076.75 and our journey began on January 1st, 2008.  It took us 2 months to save our baby emergency fund, and 18 months to pay down our debt.  We are debt free except for our mortgage. (Update: We are now completely debt free!)

Question 2: After living most of your life in debt, what was it that caused you to decide to become debt free?  How does becoming debt free actually feel?  Does it feel better than you imagined it would?

We became really sick of the cycle that we found ourselves in.  We would run up our credit cards, and pay down our credit cards, only to run them right back up again.  It also became clear to us that we could do more with our money if we didn’t have all the extra payments each month.  Becoming debt free feels absolutely and completely amazing, and it feels just as awesome as we hoped it would.

Question 3: What were some of the struggles that you had to deal with along the way?  Was there ever a time where you almost gave up?

Our biggest struggles were first, dealing with the changes that we had made together, as a team.  I was a little too hardcore at first and that was overwhelming for my wife.  It wasn’t until I truly understood that I needed to lighten up in order to move forward that things started to change.  I had to replay this in my mind; “It’s okay to lose some battles in order to win the war!”  My wife did a great job dealing with me though.  The other thing we struggled with was dealing with life and the emergencies that came with it.  I wouldn’t say there was ever a point where we almost gave up, but we definitely had times where we felt defeated and run down.  We pulled ourselves together and continued to fight the good fight.

Question 4: What would you consider to be the most important key to becoming debt free?  What helped you the most?

I would have to say that without a doubt, changing our mindset and attitude about money and debt, was absolutely imperative to our success.  Once we became sick and tired of being sick and tired, that process became a little easier.  The debt snowball method helped us stay motivated.  It seemed that whenever we found ourselves a little down, paying off the next debt on the list re-energized us and gave us new motivation.  With that said, the last and biggest debt on our list was the toughest demon to battle mentally.  I am working on an article to help people deal with the big debts on their list.  Stay tuned to Enemy of Debt…

Question 5: It seems a lot of people have bought into the lie that debt is essential in order to prosper, what do you have to say to those people?

If you only knew how wrong you are!  You don’t need a car with a payment.  You don’t need an education with a loan.  You don’t need a credit card to have stuff.  You do not deserve debt, you deserve freedom and security through saving for your future.  Don’t let your wants get in the way of your needs.

Question 6: What was the biggest sacrifice you would say you made in order to become debt free?  What about you changed the most?

Our biggest sacrifice by far, was selling our Pontiac Vibe, which was difficult to do.  People often say that they need a new car because it is reliable—as if a used car could never be as reliable.  That is simply a misconception that will keep you from saving $300-$500 a month.  I not only bought a used car but I bought an old, 1985 CRX with 140,000 miles on it.  I had to fix it a few times but it never came any where close to the amount of money I would have been spending on car payments.

Question 7: Did your friends and family give you a hard time about your new mission to eliminate the debt from your life?  If so how did you deal with it?

Actually, I wouldn’t say that we were given a hard time, but I am sure that was not the case behind closed doors.  The biggest thing people would comment about was my hardcore views about debt and the fact that I openly said I would never borrow another dime ever again.  The most common two items people said that was impossible to have without having a loan were buying a house or a car.  I dealt with it by saying these two words, “Watch me!”  We had a super support system in my wife’s parents.  They were so wonderful through it all and often encouraged us to stay the course when they could tell we were down.  Many thanks and appreciation go out from us to them!!!

Question 8: When you first started your journey to debt freedom, you said you had  skeptical friends.  Since that time, have any of those friends started the process too?  Do you think your example inspired others around you to do the same thing?

Yes, I have watched a couple of friends start the process.  One friend in particular told me he didn’t need a Total Money Makeover, but soon realized that he was completely wrong.  He is doing awesome and has now reached the last of his debt—the dreaded student loans.  It was pretty cool to watch because every time he would pay off a credit card he would be sure to let me know.  I have to say it was pretty exciting for me to watch.  I think that example is the best teacher and I hope that I have helped many people change their thinking, and pay off debt themselves.

Question 9: Now that you are debt free, what is next for you?  What financial goals do you plan to accomplish now that the chains of bondage have been released?

Well naturally we plan to save $15,000 for our Fully Funded Emergency Fund.  $2,000 down—$13,000 to go. 🙂 We are having a baby in October and my wife is going to take off the entire 3 months following, so we want to build our savings as much as we can during that time.  After that time passes, I will be able to finally become certified as a financial counselor and work towards starting my counseling business.

Question 10: What is your message to those who feel trapped by their own debt, want to escape, but feel hopeless to do so?

You feel trapped because you are.  You want to escape because deep down you know there is a better way.  Now is the time to look yourself in the mirror and determine what has been keeping you trapped.  What behaviors and habits are keeping you from financial freedom?  Change those behaviors by taking it one step at a time.  If I can do it you can do it!  The reason why you feel hopeless is because that is what debt does to people.  It steals your hope and robs you of the life you deserve.  Make the decision today to actively seek out the life that has been stolen from you.  It is there you just have to do things differently to reach that point.  Stop wasting time.  If you’re worried now, imagine how you will feel in 5 years from now if you are in the same predicament.

Now go get debt free! We did it and so can you.  Don’t stop believing in your ability to do great things.  Being debt free will change everything for you.  I will continue to give you support, encouragement, and inspiration to start or continue your debt free journey. Enemy of Debt is not over because my debt is gone.  I still have much more to do and I want you to come along for the ride! Saddle up!

photo credit

Debt Free News From A Debt Free Reader Series

Debt Free News: The Kick Off – Yours Truly @enemyofdebt
Debt Free News From A Debt Free Reader #1Kelsalynn @KelsaLynnFitLog
Debt Free News From A Debt Free Reader #2Nick @Nickfro
Debt Free News From A Debt Free Reader #3Paul @fiscalgeek
More to come…

About Brad Chaffee

4 Responses to “Debt Free News: My Debt Free Journey”

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  1. KELSALYNN says:

    Awesome “interview”! Thank you!

    In 5 days, we’ll be debt free. I get these butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it…I can’t imagine how I will feel that day. Hopefully Murphy doesn’t visit between now and then.

    Eeek!!! So exciting!!

  2. Jesse says:

    Interesting format there but I liked the material. I agree that debt is hard to deal with but the most important part is starting and you need to get on it and hit it as hard as you can. We are completely credit card debt free but still have one chunk of consumer debt, not to mention student loans but we are well on our way and will keep on moving.

  3. E.C. says:

    Yay! Now on to building savings and paying off the house.

  4. Brad Chaffee says:

    Kelsalynn – I am hoping with you, that murphy leaves you alone! Good luck and congratulations!!!

    Jesse – You are absolutely right. Starting now is key instead of procrastinating and putting it off. Good luck in getting rid of the rest of your debt.

    E.C. – yeah and I never thought I would ever be excited about saving money either. I am . 😀

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