Happy half birthday to my debt free journey! I can’t believe we are actually six months in, and only have six months to go (all being well!).
For those of you who are new to my story, I am 32 and live in Belfast, Northern Ireland, with my partner Ryan, known more commonly on my Instagram page (@wannabedebtfree) as Mr M, and our dog, Jesse. We both work in banking and started our journey towards debt freedom after years of living month to month, scraping by on two pretty decent incomes, mainly down to my lack of self-discipline and Ryan’s easy going attitude to budgeting. I think our story is quite relatable; it’s not that we didn’t have money, we did; we had just enough to purchase a new car and make monthly repayments for the rest of our lives, take out a 35 year mortgage and virtually no savings. We had closets full of clothes we didn’t wear because we were always eating out and getting takeaways and nothing really fitted. We were renovating our home and borrowing to do so, because we lived in a world of instant gratification where anything you want is just a loan application away. We were always tired from the stress of jobs that we were trapped in because we had debt repayments to make.
Our financial fate changed six months ago when Ryan’s job was at risk of redundancy and I had finally had enough of sleepless nights over our £16k debt. We made a budget, and we stuck to it, no matter what. Debt overpayments started at £100 and quickly became £500. Our outgoings shrank as we learned how to improve our lifestyle for half the cost of our current one and we found an extra £500 per month in our budget. Ryan landed a new, better paid job and used his redundancy payout to pay off our car. We fully financed a Christmas break to Berlin and booked our dream holiday to Thailand.
So, if you are looking for some inspiration to start your own journey today, here’s some of the best aspects of the last six months:
Best Feel-Good Moment
We paid off our car on 20th September 2017- I think the final payment was in the £4k region. Never in our lives have we owned our car outright, and every time I look at it now, I feel so proud that we didn’t hand it back to the dealership because we couldn’t afford the final payment and continue the cycle of debt repayment each month by purchasing a brand new car. Now I know that no matter how broke we are, we will always have our lovely little car.
Going from nothing left over after bills and expenses each month to have a spare £1,000 (this is currently split between debt repayment and paying for holidays). This has been down to halving our grocery budget (but we eat so much healthier than we used to) and our date night spends, cutting down on buying clothing, cancelling subscriptions we don’t use and paying off our car.
Simply put, my mental health. I don’t panic about money anymore and I’m don’t feel sick handing over my debit card. My relationship with Ryan has improved so much without all of that stress and I feel like I’ve got my best friend back.
Exciting Plans for the Future
Apart from going to Thailand this year, debt freedom will allow us to change careers and take a pay cut without worry. I am hoping to leave my job this year and pursue a career in a more creative field. And although we don’t have kids just yet, I hope that one day I can be at home a lot when my children are growing up so I don’t miss any of the good stuff. With our outgoings halved by the time we are debt free, this is finally going to be feasible. Oh and we are also planning to take things to the next level and be mortgage free by our early 40s!
Would I Do It All Over Again?
Absolutely, 100%. Ten out of ten, would recommend. When we first started, my aim was to improve our lives when we were debt free but our lives have already improved so much. There is so much less stress at home, we talk more, we eat better, we have so much more time for friends and family. Life is no longer about acquiring stuff and having it define us. Funnily enough, I think that back in our old debt days we would purchase so much as a pursuit of happiness, but only when we stopped purchasing did we become truly happy. It turns out happiness for us is within, and without.
If you are thinking of paying off your debt, I urge you to do it. It will be the best money you’ve ever spent.