Ever since we bid adieu to the last of our debt in 2015, we vowed to never borrow again. We also thought that the heavy lifting was done and that staying out of debt would be a cinch. Instead, we’ve learned that it takes a lot of planning and patience to sustain a debt-free lifestyle. While we’re still figuring it out, we have landed on a few cornerstones that guide our decision making.
Be Like Boy Scouts
Being prepared to never borrow again also means being prepared for things to break down. It wasn’t difficult to plan for future replacement of big ticket items when we took a moment to consider which ones will live forever: none of them. Cars conk out, furnaces fizzle, dryers die.
So we’re already saving to replace Scott’s vehicle in about 5 years, but who knows what need will pop up before then. Whatever it is, we plan to sidestep the stress that can come along with these unexpected events.
DO Sweat the Small Stuff
While paying off our debt, it didn’t take long to see how quickly small purchases add up. And most of them were non-essential impulse buys (Target run!). So I was forced to stop shopping for sport (poor me, 1st world problem, I know). After I had successfully kicked the shopping habit, there was actually a time when I went into Target “just to browse,” and walked out with nothing to show for it. I was sure someone was going to frisk me at the exit- no one leaves Target empty-handed.
Recently, the small purchases have started creeping back into our daily lives, so back on the wagon I go. Now, when I feel like shopping, I look at my gift list and start shopping for upcoming birthdays and holidays. It’s more fun shopping for other people, anyway.
Keep It Real
There’s nothing like a good HGTV marathon to convince me that I need all-new-everything in my house. Honestly, I don’t know how we’ve managed to get along without granite countertops and stainless steel appliances all this time (oops, is my sarcasm showing?). We’ve eyed up a few projects, but since we will need to hire someone to do the work, we will also have to pay cash for said work. Seeing the bids puts them into perspective and knocks them way down on our priority list. While I may still pine for granite countertops- and I may get them one day- I will continue to be thankful for my paid-for laminate.
Guarantee the Golden Years
Just like our fridges and dryers will break down, so will we retire. God willing. And while we both enjoy working, we also dream of a day when we can travel and live a freer lifestyle. So we plow as much as we can into our retirement accounts. More then the recommended percentages, actually. Not only does this pad our account nicely, but it takes those dollars out of our hands to spend on stupid stuff, like unnecessary Target runs (I really do love you, Target, just too much sometimes).
Give & Be Grateful
The greatest gift of living without debt is the ability to help others. And to treat others. As much as we try to be miserly in our daily lives, we try to be abundant in our giving. We are acutely aware of how lucky we are to have a loving family and a beautiful community to live in and we try to show our gratitude by paying it forward as much as possible in word and deed.
We still have so much to learn, but the best part is that we’re figuring it out together. When one of us trips, we know the other one will a). laugh, and b). be right there to pick the other one up.