“Live like no one else, so that later you can live like no one else”
I thought it would be fitting to write one of my first posts about debt. Since I like to consider myself a finance guy and since this is a goal I worked towards for several months, it’s something I’m proud of. Travis had talked about a guy named Dave Ramsey, so I started listening to his podcast while I was in Australia through iTunes. I was immediately hooked. The way he breaks down personal finance into very simple, basic steps is genious. When all of the media and banks try to create confusion, Dave Ramsey explains things very simple…only 7 steps. He also happens to be extremely motivating to get this done. I listened to his podcast almost daily from April through September when I decided to finally pick up his book. I decided to take his method and pay off my debt as fast as possible. I came out of college with a part of a car loan and some student loans and immediately started paying them down with every dollar I could. I kept my standard of living very similar to my college years…I found a roommate on Craigslist, I bought work clothes at Kohl’s, I cut back on going out and opted to stay in with friends instead, etc. I had been living like this for years, but I never really started seeing the benefits until I was benefiting on both sides…I was earning money. I kept my expenses much lower than my income, and the rest was going to the loans. I have to admit, it was very frustrating at times. I’m working my tail off and my bank account still has the same amount as when I was in college.
Fast forward to March 15th when I made my last student loan payment (my car loan was long gone). It was an amazing feeling to pay it off so quickly, as I had set a goal to pay it off by September 3rd (Debt free by September three was my saying). It’s a strange feeling after that last payment; “Soooo…now every dollar that comes into my bank account…is mine?”, I thought as I sat at my computer desk. Strange, yet liberating. Financially and emotionally, I felt free. Most of the gratification came from setting a goal, staying disciplined, and achieving the goal months in advance. The other part was knowing that I was on track for financial freedom.
All for nothing?
Fast forward a few months later – I’m starting to build my emergency fund (Baby Step #3), and I make the mistake of turning my car too soon while parking…hitting a pole and taking off my front bumper. Don’t get me wrong, I was furious at myself for making such a dumb move especially since I’ve always considered myself a pretty good driver. I couldn’t believe that one split second decision was going to cost me somewhere between $500 and $1000. All of the effort I put into becoming debt free added to that sick feeling in my stomach. I eventually got over it, paid $800, and realized that sometimes these things will happen in life. If I had a load of debt, the stress would’ve been much higher. With my emergency fund, I was able to write out a check and be done with it. I’m now trying to build more momentum to continue building wealth and working towards a better financial future.
I have to say that I am currently obsessed with freedom and trying to stay as far away from commitment as possible. What drives me towards building wealth is having freedom to do what I want. With wealth, I’d have the freedom to stick it to the man if I got tired of a job. I’d have the to money to spend on the things I value most (currently, this includes gas for weekend trips, canollis at Mike’s Pastry in the North End of Boston, a nice 1 1/2 pound lobster dinner, and an occasional icy cold Sam Adams). The things I value most will inevitably change over time. As I get older, starting a family, finding a city to live in for longer than a year (maybe), and buying a house will become top priorities. But like I said, commitment is not what I’m looking for right now. I’m extremely happy with my 6 month leases for now. When will I want to find somewhere stable to live? I’d like to say after I see 100% of the world, but I know it would take 60 years to do that…so I’ll just say after 75%