To be debt free before retirement. When I first wrote that, I was married to my first wife and we lived our entire 18-year marriage beyond our means. She grew up poor and wanted to give our children everything she never had. As the doting husband, I would make the budget work, thus enabling us to provide for the family, even though we shouldn’t have been able to afford it. Alas, Lady Visa and Master Card, were more than willing to extend me more and more credit, digging an ever-deeper hole and robbing me of the freedom to choose what to do with my income.
After we foreclosed on our home, moved, started working two jobs, and divorced, I had well over $60,000 in debt.
Since then I remarried, and I am glad to say that my wife is a penny-pincher and has completely taken over the money management in our home. Under her watch, that $60,000 is now down to $20,000 in just 4 years. We are finally selling our home in North Carolina this week, which will allow us to pay off every single credit card we own.
We will still have some personal loans, a car payment, and student debt to deal with, but a couple of those will be paid off soon as well.
Because of her diligence, our credit score has been good enough to qualify for a mortgage so we are buying a house next month and getting out of the rental market! Yay!
But more important than all of that is that because we have eliminated so much of the debt, we have a modest amount of disposable income so we can finally afford to experience life. (I know, I know, the best things in life are free. But usually, life experiences cost money. Even if it’s just the cost of gas to get there.)
Please use my example as a cautionary tale. Living beyond your means is easy and fun, but eventually, the debt you accumulate will become shackles, imprisoning you from a life well lived.