This post is written by Derek Sall, blogger and author at LifeAndMyFinances.com. He has an amazing story that just keeps getting better. If you like his stuff here, be sure to pay him a visit at his site!
My upbringing was pretty simple financially. My parents weren’t rich and they insisted on paying cash for everything – their furniture, their cars, even their house. The only mortgage they ever had was on their first house. After that, the story was always cash, cash, cash.
Sometimes a saver’s mentality is passed down to the next generation. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case with me. To be honest, I wasn’t a complete disaster, but I was penny wise pound foolish.
Student Loan Debt
In my early college years, I worked pretty minimally in the summer and earned only $600. I then proceeded to spend my savings…not for tuition…but for two flat screen TVs, surround sound, and a massive entertainment system. Because of these foolish decisions, I started racking up student loan debt. I could have easily earned my degree without the loans, but instead I found myself with a $12,500 IOU. Penny wise pound foolish.
When it came time to pay back the loans, I was nowhere near ready. I was trying to live on my own and pay all the bills on a next-to-nothing salary. That first student loan bill came in the mail and it made me sick. I knew I didn’t have the money and couldn’t make the payment.
Long story short, I deferred the loan, paid way too much interest, and took care of that loan as quickly as possible. I vowed to myself that I would never take on debt like that ever again.
The “Smart” Home Purchase
A few months after the student loan debt, I decided to tackle some “good” debt and bought a house. All in all, I did it right. I bought a foreclosure for a great price, fixed it up with my own blood, sweat, and tears, and I therefore had a low mortgage payment in a pretty nice house.
While the house debt was supposed good debt, it still gave me that same bitter taste. In reality, “my” house wasn’t really mine at all. It was the bank’s. You know how I knew? If I stopped making the payments, who would get the house? Not me.
So if something bad happened in my life that left me penniless, not only would I have no money, but I would also have no house to live in! That’s a pretty scary thought! If I was struggling to clothe and feed myself, I wouldn’t want to also wonder where I was going to live after being kicked out of my house.
Soon after the bitter taste, I decided to wage war on the home loan.
The War on Debt
On January 1st, 2014, I started tackling my mortgage debt of $54,500. By December 11th, 2014 it was all gone. I saved money any way that I could:
- I taught myself to love bologna
- I rode my bicycle everywhere
- I switched my insurance provider to save thousands
- I negotiated a lower cell phone bill
- I let the house heat up in the summer and cool way down in the winter
- I even started changing my own oil and brakes
Like I said, I skimped on everything. Beyond this, I made money wherever I could:
- I made my site into a better-earning business
- I wrote articles for other blogs
- I earned a promotion at work
- I started mowing lawns….even for my sister and nephew
I was serious about paying off the mortgage, which is why it evaporated in less than a year. Complete debt freedom was definitely an accomplishment, but was it worth it?
What’s It Like Being Completely Debt Free?
Most people don’t become completely debt free until they’re in their 6o’s. Heck, today there are plenty of people who carry their mortgage into their retirement and here I was completely debt free before my 30th birthday! So what was it like? What have I noticed about my complete debt freedom?
1) Stress Freedom
I have no payments whatsoever. My biggest monthly expense is the grocery bill. Put frankly, I never have to worry about money at the end of the month. If I had the choice between a massive house on the lake with a large payment and a simple house with no monthly payment, I’d choose the simple house every time.
2) Cash Builds Up in a Hurry
Since I have no payments and don’t make any extravagant purchases, I put thousands of dollars into my bank account each month.
You want to know what I do with it?
I don’t try to pick individual stocks, I don’t buy precious metals, and I don’t blindly put my money into a 401k. I build up cash to buy real estate.
3) I’m Incredibly Weird
In today’s world, people think that home loans are smart and car loans are necessary. If I start telling people at work that I own two houses free and clear, they’ll look at me like I’m an alien. I’m getting ahead financially. Others choose not to. From my perspective, they’re the strange ones, but regardless, I choose to keep my mouth shut and stock up my cash in peace.
4) My Financial Freedom Date Is Fast Approaching
The less debt you have, the less income you need. My wife and I live quite comfortably on $24,000 a year. My website nets nearly $10,000 a year and our rental property nets another $8,000. One more rental property and we could both ditch our jobs and do nothing for the rest of our lives. We likely won’t choose this option, but it’s pretty cool to think about!
I Highly Recommend Debt Freedom
Becoming completely debt free isn’t easy. It can take years. But is it worth it?
Since paying off my home mortgage, I have saved up enough to buy a rental house with cash. With the rental proceeds and my work income, I‘ll be able to make another cash real estate purchase next year. Fast forward 10 years and I’ll be buying multiple rental homes each year!
If anyone tells you that you can’t get rich without debt, they’re lying through their teeth. Millions of dollars can be earned and if I can do it, so can you! Go out there and earn your millions!
Related: Best Savings Account