It’s been a year since my husband and I finished off my student loans and even though we’re not a 100% debt-free yet (we’re still working on the mortgage), we’ve been able to see the tremendous benefits of a life free from the chains of debt.
Yes, debt is a trap. I know our society wants us to believe otherwise, but it is simply a chain that keeps you from realizing your true life’s dreams.
As I mentioned before in another post, my husband quit his job, with no backup plan. That’s pretty scary, but here’s the thing, it’s been a month since he quit and we haven’t even touched our emergency fund.
We haven’t stressed – not once – about how the bills are going to get paid. And as one of our kids’ Godparents said, “y’all did it the right way – you made sure that you don’t owe anyone”.
It really doesn’t take much for us to live on. In fact, this whole experience has taught us that we could have been saving and doing so much more with the money that my husband was earning before.
We’re getting to experience having Daddy home for dinner. Daddy’s phone not ringing all day long. Daddy not missing important family events.
We’re getting to experience something that over the years has been taken away from society – Daddy getting to do more than just “provide” for his family. Daddy now gets to make money, and thus, “provide” for us, but he also gets to show up for soccer practice, help get the kids in bed, read stories, build birdhouses, and the list goes on.
It’s beautiful and it has only been made possible because we committed ourselves to living a debt-free life.
Because you know that I love numbers and I love showing our “real life on a budget”, here’s what our budget looked like before we committed becoming debt-free (this is from 2012):
Auto Insurance: $175
Health Insurance: $475 (this was before the Affordable Care Act went into place so his employer wasn’t required to pay for health insurance yet – and this was for just 3 people!)
Car Payment: $450
Cell phone: $150
Credit Card #1: $35 (Min. Payment)
Credit Card #2: $75 (Min. Payment)
Student Loans: $450 (Min. Payment)
Total Expenses: $3,953
That’s a lot of money that we would have had to have every month in order to just cover our bills! Heck, we didn’t really have anything left to save or tithe!
Here’s what our monthly budget today looks like:
Auto Insurance: $114
Boys’ Preschool Tuition: $529
Cell Phone: $45
Health Insurance: $450 (All 5 of us are on a healthcare sharing ministry.)
Monthly Savings (various accounts): $400
Total Expenses: $3,656
You may also be looking at this going – wait, you’re expenses didn’t go that far down!
Look at the difference in what those expenses are now paying for:
- Our boys’ preschool tuition (which we never thought in a million years we’d be able to afford)
- A family of 5 – in 2012, it was just 3 of us.
That’s the whole point to living a “real life on a budget” – making your budget work for you and allowing your money to help you to realize your dreams and goals. Our money is now doing that – it’s now based around our real life and what we value most. If we still had that $1,000 in minimum debt payments every month there’s literally no way we’d be able to afford to pay for our boys’ school and save $400 a month!
That would have added another $1,000 on top of the debt burden! My husband was only bringing home right at $3,500 (deficit much????).
The difference is now, we make the rules – my husband gets to set his pay and his hours. That’s the fun of being self-employed. Granted the downside is that we now have to pay $450 a month for health insurance but the freedom has been well worth it.
That’s what I want for everyone – freedom. Freedom to live your real life on a budget – whatever that budget may look like for you.
Sure, if you want to have nice cars, nice houses, nice vacations that are all paid for with debt, that’s okay. It’s your budget, you get to decide how you use it, but I do want to challenge you with this….
What more could you do with that money you’re paying out in debt payments every month?
Could you finally take that trip to Europe?
Pay for your kids’ college tuition?
Pay for that kitchen remodel?
Finally quit that job you hate?
My husband being able to quit the job that was draining the life out of him has been an amazing blessing to us – so don’t go thinking that you have to be stuck working a job you don’t love. You have options.
Again, it’s totally up to you – what does your real life on a budget look like?
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