Taste of Financial Freedom
This year a crazy thing happened; I got an email from my student loan provider with my tax information for the year. What is this? Oh, taxes! It is January. It is time for us to do our taxes! This was the first time in my adult life that I was completely oblivious to the fact that it was tax time. You see, up until this point I counted on, more like depended on, my tax return. I needed it to pay off medical bills and put toward our family vacation fund. This was the first time that my tax return wasn’t even on my radar because for the first time ever we don’t need it. It is no longer the essential piece to us paying off medical bills or paying off other debt. Even just typing that sentence still feels foreign to me. So ridiculously foreign.
This is also the time of year where I receive birthday & Christmas money from my family. Every year I end up spending that money on groceries, or car repairs, or bills, or things for my kids. But this year? All of that money is still sitting in their prospective cards just waiting to be dropped off at the bank. I don’t need it to buy groceries or pay off debt anymore. What? So I can go get a massage and day at the spa with that money instead?! Are you serious? Is this real life? Also, this past month my husband and I put all new tires on both of our (paid off!) cars. We were able to walk in and do that without worrying about money or tapping into birthday or Christmas money. That was the craziest feeling. Who knew that I’d be so excited about being able to pay for new tires.
Those things alone may seem small to you but they have been huge eye openers to me over the past month or so. Dare I say that it is a taste of financial freedom? While we still have a small mortgage in my massive amount of private school debt – that is our only debt. I can’t even describe how freeing that is. I want everyone that I know to feel the same financial freedom that we have been feeling. Here are some practical things you can do to start your journey to financial freedom, too! I know these are practical because we have done them ourselves.
- Get a second job! Even if it is just a few extra hours a week – do it. Even if it is minimum wage that is still more money than $0! Take your paycheck and put it towards a debt right away. Don’t let it become your disposable income because then you won’t get anywhere and your second job won’t actually be helping you get out of debt. While it is nice to have that little extra now, it is even nicer to have financial freedom later.
- Sell everything. Literally. I can’t even tell you how many things my husband and I sold when we were getting our house ready to sell. Haven’t used it in a year? Don’t really need 2 coffee tables? Sell it. One weekend my husband and I made about $500 in one weekend just by selling things on Facebook Marketplace that we weren’t actually using (old lunch boxes, mirrors, book shelf, extra coffee pot, clothes, etc.). Plus not only is it nice on your bank account but it also lowers your stress to have so much stuff in your house.
- Buy a foreclosure and fix it up! This one isn’t an instant fix but I promise you the wait is so worth it. If you would have told me 4 years ago that it would have been worth it as I was standing in my completely gutted kitchen I would have laughed in your face. And then cried – hysterically. It was hard. I am not a patient person and I wanted everything done in about 2 seconds and not the months and even years it took to flip our entire house. But I can promise you that looking back I would do it again in a heart beat! To be able to sell our house and walk away with a giant freaking profit was amazing because it meant we were no longer slaves to our debt.
- Move in with your parents. I mean it. If we lived closer to my parents we would have done this in a heart beat. In fact, some of my friends have done this to kick start their debt free journey, too. If you can do it – do it. Otherwise find a job that gives you free housing or a discount on housing if you do things like keep up the facilities, etc. I know. But I want my own house. Trust me. I do, too. But what I want more than my own house right now is to keep our momentum going and continue to pay things off while building our house fund for our forever home. I am so fortunate to be able to do a job that I love while also receiving free housing. If you can do this – do it! It literally is the best of both worlds. Or get a roommate to help with the rent payments and utilities.
- One word – consignment. Thankfully in the Twin Cities we have a consignment store that I am in love with and literally buy all of my clothes from. The clothes are in excellent condition and most still have the tags! I save so much money by buying my clothes here. I also buy all of my kids clothes at Once Upon a Child. When they grow so fast it only makes sense. Plus, I dig through and find clothes that are either new or still look new. The only downfall is our middle schooler is at the age where I don’t shop there for him anymore. But since I buy my clothes & the girls clothes at second hand places it doesn’t make me feel so bad to buy all of his brand new.
- Get a separate bank account that you do not have access to. When I got my car loan a few years ago it came with a free savings account. It was at a different bank from our main bank and meant that it was out of sight and out of mind. We started throwing money in that account and just let it build up over time. It came in handy when we had an emergency come up and had money sitting in there. It wasn’t easily accessible and we had to physically drive to the bank to take the money out. I love having that account that I can put money in every month and not have to think about it. Personally I like having separate accounts for separate things (i.e.: house fund account, future car fund, regular savings, etc.).
- Make something & sell it. Thankfully my husband is super handy and talented and has made farmhouse tables and sold them. Having something that you enjoy making and can also profit from is such a huge blessing.
- Learn to say no. Say no to the cable, the unlimited data plans, the high speed internet, the social events that you know are going to cost a lot of money. Do you really need all of that? If you asked me that a few years ago I would have said yes. But now? Nope. Say no now so that you can say yes later.
I don’t claim to know everything there is to financial freedom & becoming debt free. All I know is that I was so tired of feeling strapped to our debt and I know others feel that way, too. I felt like we were hamsters on a wheel trying to make ends meet every single month. Working all of these hard and long hours to get nowhere. And in an honest moment, I felt like we were more focused on making money to pay our bills than we were focused on making a life. Don’t get me wrong – it is going to require sacrifice. It is going to take hard work. It is going to require 100% dedication and focus. But it doesn’t have to be forever. As Dave Ramsey says work really, really hard for a short amount of time. If you do it half-assed it is going to take so much longer and you are going to feel like hamsters on a wheel. But buckle down, work hard, and get it over with. I promise you that it is so worth it.
I want you to feel the taste of financial freedom that I have been feeling lately, too. It is so freeing and empowering. You can do it!