Well, it’s been a while since my last Debt Free News article, so I thought today was as good a Friday as any! This happens to be the last of the submissions, so I hope if you are debt free, you’ll be sure to head on over, after reading this post, to fill out the Debt Free Questionnaire. Your story could inspire many, so if you have become debt free, then you probably know how your life has changed ever since, so please feel free to share it.
This Debt Free News edition shares a debt free story from someone I have become good friends with in the last year or so. We really connected due to the fact that we shared the same views on personal responsibility and self reliance. We both believe that if you want something done, you have to do it, and if you make a mistake in life, you have to own it. I believe personal responsibility separates those that deserve from those that do not. In other words, taking responsibility for your actions and responding accordingly usually requires a level of maturity and hard work that someone who feels entitled does not share. Clair and I believe that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are the only things we are entitled to. Other than that it’s up to us to provide the life we desire.
Because of our common beliefs, I joined Clair’s team as a contributor on the Self Reliance Exchange. I no longer write for them because of time constraints, but I highly respect their mission and admire their dedication to help spread the idea of self reliance.
Click here if you are interested in reading more from me on the Self Reliance Exchange.
Clair Schwan has been completely debt free since 2005 and loves every minute of it. Learn more about him and his adventures in frugal living over at Frugal Living Freedom where the motto is, “…living well, and well within your means…”
I hope you please continue to visit Enemy of Debt to stay m0tivated and focused in your DEBT FREE journey! 😀
Check out Clair’s Debt Free News! Please enjoy, but most importantly be inspired!
The Enemy of Debt Questionnaire – Clair Schwan
How much debt did you have and how long did it take you to pay it off?
Well over $250,000 and it took me 8 years to pay it off and place myself in a comfortable financial position. I had about $100,000 associated with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. I paid that off in 5 years, and then I took on about $150,000 in debt for my home and paid that off in 3 years.
How does becoming debt free actually feel? Does it feel better than you imagined it would?
I’ll be in the minority on this one. It’s a wonderful feeling to be debt free, but it isn’t something that I get all excited about simply because it wasn’t a surprise. I worked hard to make it happen and it happened – not by accident, but through deliberate action. That means good planning, realistic goals, hard work, proper timing and tenacity. So, when I became completely debt free in 2005, it was really quite expected and not the exhilaration that I thought it would be. Nevertheless, it’s a very pleasing place to be.
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?
I faced what seemed to be insurmountable odds. I had more debt to pay off than my salary could handle. At the same time, I had alimony payments to make. My monthly payments peaked at $3,000 and stayed there for years. In order to make the payments that I knew were coming down the pike, I had to quit my job and start my own business.
The two big problems associated with that were: funding a start-up enterprise when you’re bankrupt; and, the delay in payments that you experience when you first start a business. It isn’t like getting another job – you pay to get yourself into business and then you wait for months before your first check arrives.
I never thought of quitting. I’m just too stubborn for that. Besides, who ever won by quitting?
What would you consider to be the most important key to becoming debt free? What helped you the most?
The key to becoming debt free is to realize what is important in your life and then keeping your eyes on that. It’s very motivating and allows you to endure a lot of “horse manure” knowing that there’s a “pony” waiting for you at the end of your struggle, and that “pony” will be all yours.
For me, it was the benefit of owning my land and home. When you realize that the house you’re in and the land it sits on can be yours, and not something you’re simply paying for, you get a feel for the financial security that this offers as well as the tremendous amount of money that you can save by paying off the mortgage early – in my case, in 3 years.
It seems a lot of people have bought into the idea that debt is essential in order to prosper, what do you have to say to those people?
If you’re making certain investments, sometimes debt is warranted. Most people can’t afford to pay cash for a house, so getting into debt is a way to have a nice home now instead of “living in a tent” while you save up some money. We need to understand that debt is a ball and chain. It’s a form of enslavement. And, there are more than an ample number of commercial organizations that love to financially enslave millions of people so they have a steady source of income. You don’t have to be one of the slaves. For the most part, debt is a choice that we make, and we either make wise choices or we pay the consequences.
In a way, it’s true that debt is essential to prosper – your indebtedness is essential for banks and credit card companies to prosper.
What was the biggest sacrifice you would say you made in order to become debt free? What about you changed the most?
The single largest sacrifice that I made to become debt-free was to give up my personal life and become focused on my business life. I traveled all over the country and many times around the world – up to 75% of my time each month – just to “make hay while the sun was shining.” I knew that my personal life would have to be put on hold so I could work like hell to build up sufficient financial resources to pay off debt, build a nice financial cushion, and then save enough money to pay off the house.
Such a demanding work and travel schedule made my social life nearly non-existent. But, I knew the sacrifices would be short-lived. The vision in my mind was many years of hard work and frugal living that would lead to a point where I’d be able to throttle back and start my current “more life, less work” program. It took me 8 years in all to make it happen in a very deliberate and well-planned manner.
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? Do you think you inspired others by your journey?
I never got a hard time about my mission to succeed. Most people looked at my level of effort and shook their head, glad not to be in my shoes. Now, of course, these same people say “you’re lucky” and I’m very quick to point out that luck had nothing to do with it.
The best comment came from my father who commented to my mother, “I don’t know how that kid did it.” Sometimes I wonder how I did it too. All I know is that I was in the heat of battle and I had to keep pressing forward, taking more and more financial ground, until I had won the war and achieved all of my most important goals. There was nothing anyone could have said to discourage me. There was nothing that anyone could have said to offer me the necessary encouragement either. I was my own best “cheerleader” and that was all I needed.
Consider that no one knew better than me what I was trying to get out from under. No one knew better than me what I was trying to accomplish. And, everything I did was in my own best and long-term interest, so what more motivation did I need?
What is next for you? What financial goals do you plan to accomplish?
Many financial goals related to being debt free have largely already been accomplished. I pay cash for everything, and I don’t really care whether I am credit worthy simply because I never intend to be a debtor ever again. I maintain a credit card only for convenience and because some places won’t (or would rather not) take checks or cash.
There are three larger picture financial goals that still need to be conquered. First, I’m building revenue streams through my own entrepreneurial efforts to completely supplant whatever the Social Security Administration has been telling me I’ll be paid once I reach retirement age. I don’t count on Social Security at all, and I never have. That’s pure foolishness because you’re depending on government to support you – good luck with that approach.
Second, I’m setting about to eliminate recurring costs associated with my lifestyle. These include heat, lights and food. I’m creating my own marketplace alternatives to help chip away at these large and recurring costs. I’m not focused on self sufficiency as that is a full-time job, but I also don’t want to be held hostage over marketplace fluctuations that I have no control over. I realize that some modest investments in these areas will allow me greater independence from the marketplace, so I view it as a type of financial investment.
Third, I’ll continue to live my frugal and self-directed life that includes building and making things myself, buying things at private sales, bartering instead of buying, and continuing to focus on needs instead of wants. I recognize that financial success isn’t a destination, it’s a lifestyle, so I continue to keep the faith and stay focused on the principles and actions that have proven themselves to be so successful for me.
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 #1 – Kelsalynn @KelsaLynnFitLog
Debt Free News From A Debt Free Reader #2 – Nick @Nickfro
Debt Free News From A Debt Free Reader #3 – Paul @fiscalgeek
Debt Free News From A Debt Free Reader #4 – Peter @MoneyMatters
Debt Free News From A Debt Free Reader #5 – J Money @BudgetsAreSexy
Debt Free News From A Debt Free Reader #6 – Dustin @EngagedMarriage
Debt Free News From A Debt Free Reader #7 – Fabian @debtfree
Debt Free News From A Debt Free Reader #8 – Don @money_reasons
Debt Free News From A Debt Free Rreader #9 – Deacon Bradley @bradleycoaching
Debt Free News From A Debt Free Reader #10 – Golda
Debt Free News From A Debt Free Reader #11 – Clair Schwan @ClairSchwan
More to come…but only if I get some new submissions! 😀