When people find out I paid off my $86,000 mortgage in 2 years, they all want to know how it’s changed my life.
I mailed my last payment to Wells Fargo in December 2012. Since then, my life has changed for the better because I can now afford to do things I never thought I could. As you read through this list, think about how your life could change too.
1. I CAN AFFORD TO FOLLOW MY DREAMS
In January 2014, I walked away from my full-time job in order to pursue new opportunities, including running Save on Almost Everything. I spent the past 10 years doing what I thought was my dream job, but dreams can change. This was one of the biggest decisions I’ve ever made and I don’t think I would have had the guts to do it if I were in debt.
2. I CAN AFFORD TO GET IN THE BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE
I’ve taken diet and exercise seriously for a few years now, but that wasn’t always the case. After paying off my mortgage, I hired a personal trainer for about a year to help me bring my workouts to the next level. At about $400 a month, it wasn’t cheap, but I could afford it so I allowed myself to make that investment in my health.
(NOTE: I’m no longer using a trainer, but I continue to exercise regularly)
3. I CAN AFFORD TO TRAVEL
I come from a family of beach bums. In fact, my parents recently moved close to a beach in Florida. We haven’t lived near each other for a few years, so it has been nice to visit them more frequently. I flew or drove down to Florida about every six to eight weeks last year. I also visited Aruba, DC and New York in 2013. Here are some of my vacation pictures:
4. I CAN AFFORD TO SPOIL MY DOG
Little Miss Lucy can’t talk, but if she could she would tell you that she’s living the good life now that we’re debt-free. On days when I need a break I don’t hesitate to bring Lucy to daycare as a special treat. That’s something I never would have considered before.
5. I CAN AFFORD TO LEAVE A BIG TIP
As a former server, I always make sure to tip according to etiquette expert Diane Gottsman’s updated tipping standards. Once I paid off my mortgage I started leaving $10 on small breakfast tabs just to brighten my server’s day. I remember when customers did that for me and I’m excited to be able to pay it forward.
6. I CAN AFFORD TO SAY “NO” WHEN I WANT TO
Now that I’m a freelancer, I have the power to say “no” when a work assignment comes up and it’s not convenient for me. Money equals freedom and when you’re debt-free, you feel empowered to live life on your own terms.
7. I CAN AFFORD TO GIVE BACK
This is one of the greatest gifts of becoming debt-free. If a family member calls and tells me they’re in need, I can help. When I get a letter in the mail asking for a donation, I can write a check. If someone approaches me on the street to ask for a dollar, I have a dollar to give to them. Life is all about helping others, isn’t it?
By now I hope you’ve started thinking about how your life could be different once you’re able to kiss debt goodbye forever. Until then, know that you can live a comfortable lifestyle while working to reach your goals. Saving money doesn’t have to mean deprivation.