Baby Step 2 Complete: What Does “Debt Free” Feel Like?

I wondered what that day would feel like… July 19, 2019, 13 months after starting Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step 2: snowballing my debt smallest to largest. TBH, I’m not sure it’s entirely hit me yet.

I spent 13 months on a tight budget, staying mostly at home cooking and baking, crafting, and waiting every other week for that paycheck to mark one less payment, one less credit card, one less week, one percent closer (all in my very organized excel) to officially eliminating years of debt – nearly $53k.

The journey doesn’t end there. I was truly inspired by Dave Ramsey’s method and the next step is to take that same tenacity, or gazelle-like intensity*, to put that same tight budget to work to complete Baby Step 3: building a 3-6 month emergency fund (and a 3b and 3c for me which is saving up to buy a used car in CASH, and a down payment on a home).

*intense gazelle
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Photo Credit: WorldAtlas.com

 

So here we are, nearly 2 months with zero debt (almost to the day!), minus my car lease… I’ll talk about that in a sec. Since the money is now just going into a Savings account (I’m not spending it lavishly), I just don’t know that it’s all hit me yet… really.

Every other Friday (payday yay) I continue to check another excel tab… another amount of money in MY pocket this time – not to a consumer credit card or Sallie Mae. I get excited that it’s racking up; however, in the same breath I also wonder “jeez this isn’t enough/fast enough! I should have this x100 by my age/salary/job!”

It will likely hit me 100% once my emergency fund(s) are done and I no longer have a lease payment. That’ll be a true testament to feeling “caught up” and like I’m truly “free”. It is a journey/marathon after all, not a sprint.

As you (hopefully) take this journey too (seriously, listen to the audiobook of Total Money Makeover – you can usually get your first 1-2 books free with a trial on Audible) you’ll learn that a big emotional part of paying off debt is also warding off the essence of consumerism: materialism.

Don’t buy things you can’t afford

with money you don’t have

to impress people you don’t like.

– Dave Ramsey (I think, likely others too)

 

When I heard that quote in that audiobook it hit me like a ton of bricks. I suddenly was so, so sad that I had been spending nearly $500/month on a car lease payment. Money that could have helped with the debt or opened up some flexibility in my budget. I’ve since become a minimalist (not extreme) but it’s the nature of a tight budget and focus on savings. Gone are the days of walking the aisles of TJMaxx and Target aimlessly as a Saturday hobby/activity buying unnecessary things to just… fill space.

Gone are the days of needing the highest end model of a car. Gone are the days of new, new, new all the time and fooling myself into classifying a want as a “need”.

So, to answer my own question (that I hope some of you may have as well on this journey), I don’t know that you feel anything groundbreaking right away other than, perhaps, a weight lifted off your shoulders (which, for many – given kids, mortgages, single-home incomes, can feel tremendous feelings.)

Am I proud? Absolutely. And I guess that, in and ofitself, is an incredible feeling.

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