Debt Free! Now What?

Debt Free! Now What? | brokeGIRLrich

Debt Free! Now What? | brokeGIRLrich

Sending in that last debt payment is an incredible feeling! I skipped away from the mailbox. I splurged with a legitimate “I earned this” feeling on my next trip to the grocery store (and buy splurged I mean I bought two items I’d be staring down for months and just kept telling myself they were kind of wasteful).

Debt Free Splurge - Oreo Pudding Cups

Splurge #1 – Oreo Jell-O Pudding Cups. I realize some people will think it’s nuts I wouldn’t buy them before, but you totally pay for the convenience of those little cups. It’s only 6 servings! 6 tiny servings. 6 delicious, convenient tiny servings. So I bought them. And devoured them.

And then… I didn’t really know what to do. But I had a few ideas. Thanks to reading lots and lots of debt bloggers over the last few months I knew that “I deserve this” feeling had to be kyboshed – there wasn’t anything wrong with rewarding myself with pudding and nail polish (seriously, I paid off about $30,000 – an $8 treat was totally ok) – but I knew that mentality had to go. Reward done. The sweater I saw in the store, the holiday bazaar I wanted to eat everything at, the apartment slightly out of my responsible price range – in each instance a little voice went “but, you could” and it still surprises me because for years the little voice tried to scream “but you CAN’T” and so I got used to listening to the little voice. It doesn’t really help that I got a little rabid the last few months of repaying the debt and was chucking $1,000 or more at it a month. That is a lot of money to suddenly free up… sort of. I actually keep trying to remind myself that my big reward for paying off all the debt was moving back near my family and actually that “free” money is now rent money. Something I didn’t used to have to worry about.

Debt Free Splurge - Nail Polish

Splurge #2 – Fuzzy Coat Nail Polish. I’ve actually wanted one for months, but I kept telling myself no. Not on Debt Free Day. It went right into my shopping cart with my Oreo Pudding Cups!

Anyway, all of that rambling was to say that the voices in your head do funny things when they know there’s money that can be spent nearby.

The voice that I’m trying to learn to listen to is the voice of reason. The one that reminds me how safe and awesome it feels to have a plump emergency fund and that now I’m in a prime position to be able to fill it up to it’s long term goal of $12,000. Possibly even before the end of 2014. And it’s the voice that says “hey, at least those IRA deposits won’t feel like I’m pulling out my own teeth anymore when I do them.” It even whispers, “remember that goal to learn about more stocks and invest in them? Now’s the time!” It’s even the voice that says, “hey, remember charity? Charity is better place to look than your 20th sweater.”

I feel like my decisions in the next few months of debt-free-ness are more likely than any in the last few years to really determine my future financial path because I’m retraining all of my financial habits. When you’re serious about paying down your debt, you go into survival mode. You have to make some decisions, but the goal is very clear. Minimize expenses, maximize repayments. But once that’s done… now the real decisions start. How much do I want to pay in rent? If I were still making debt payments I would live with 8 roommates in the cheapest, safest neighborhood I could find. But I don’t. And I don’t really want roommates. So I’m making a decision to look at places that are $300-500 more a month. Which is now less to save and invest, but still affordable. And that’s a big version of a thousand little decisions we make every day that I’ve noticed I make different because I can now. The good folks at Ca$h Funny have already tackled this milestone and had a few things to say about what to do next, which I agree with. I really think this is one of the moments where the “personal” aspect of personal finance comes into play. I agree with all of the responsible things I should be doing with this new “found” money, but I’m excited about a few things I can finally afford to do – like live on my own or join a gym.

On the flip side though, I feel like my time spent in debt-jail taught me lots of frugal ways that I’m going to continue my entire life and several hustling qualities that I’m just gonna keep rolling with. My entire life is in upheaval this month from switching jobs and commuting/trying-desperately-to-move to a new place and yet yesterday I still managed to line up a side gig painting a ton of giant leaves. And the whole reason I jumped on that opportunity was from years of worrying about money (and also, I like making props) – so I saw an opportunity to make some and jumped at it. Hopefully those aspects of my life continue to stay the same.

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brokeGIRLrich readers, what would your debt free splurge be?  



18 thoughts on “Debt Free! Now What?

  1. That’s so awesome! Congrats on your debt freedom! I love what you splurged on btw. Great choices. I remember when I finally hit the debt free mark I treated myself to lunch since I hadn’t been eating out with coworkers and I bought myself some cute clothes. Overall though I’m still way more frugal than I was before I paid off the debt. You are definitely changed once you go through a process like that.
    Fig @ Figuring Money Out recently posted…The Fire Starter Sessions Book ReviewMy Profile

  2. Congrats! I know the feeling, we paid off our debt (not including the mortgage) in February of 2013, and for about 6 weeks I didn’t have any plan for the extra money, and I’m kicking myself now for all of the likely unnecessary and stupid spending that I can’t even recall. Once you realize how much money you now have at your disposal, since it isn’t going to debt, it can be tempting to get all of the things you denied yourself, but way to have a plan in place!

    • Wow! Way to get your mortgage paid off. Signing a lease on an apartment stresses me out, I can even imagine signing on for a mortgage. But having a plan totally helps with the extra cash. I have pretty clear goals for my IRA, emergency savings and investment funds, so I get excited at the prospect of achieving them a little earlier than planned!

  3. Congrats! I can’t wait for this day of freedom! You are an inspiration! We paid off our consumer debt ($48,000) in June of 2012 and since then we have slacked off a bit (we still have our mortgage). We are recommitting to extreme intensity and focus to pay off our mortgage in 3 years (fingers crossed). Keep up the great work and you will be retiring RICH! :)
    Nichole @ BudgetLovingMilWife recently posted…2014 Financial GoalsMy Profile

  4. HUGE congrats on becoming debt free, Mel!! I have a feeling my splurges when we’re debt free will be a lot like yours – LOVE that nail polish! I think you’re so right, too, about really having to work to stay on track when the debt is gone. It would be hard not to go a bit crazy having all of that extra cash a month, but then again, a small step up in living is okay too. :-)
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted…The 2013 Year End Debt Payoff RecapMy Profile

  5. Congratulations! I’m so jealous – we have been paying down our debt responsibly, but not aggressively, and since we started so late, it will be a loooooong time before we are debt-free. I DREAM about that first shopping trip after making our last payments! I think I would actually go out to eat at fancy restaurants every once in a while. For now, my husband and I splurge at a nice restaurant once a year, on our anniversary. Enjoy saving/investing/whatever you want to do with your extra cash!
    Mintly @ MintlyBlog recently posted…2014 Resolutions – eventually.My Profile

    • Thanks! I can totally see splurging on a nice restaurant from time. What I didn’t admit was that like two weeks after I wrote that post, I stumbled upon a holiday market on my way to work and nearly ate myself sick trying all the awesome looking food… something I definitely wouldn’t’ve allowed myself before. But it was awesome. And worth it (well, maybe not for my jeans).

  6. Wow!!! You’re my inspiration. Im debt free (excluding rent…ugh!) for now but im planning to buy a moderately priced home within the year…hopefully something I can pay off in a few years. But I love being debt free. So im at the crossroads at this point…im nervous but optimistic. Keep up the good work and I will keep you posted!!

    • Cool! Good luck on that home purchase. I’m very nervous about ever taking the plunge myself, but I definitely prefer the idea of investing into something rather than just always paying rent. Let me know how it goes!

  7. Pingback: Week End Round Up #13 - Debt Discipline

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