This week marks our fifth year of living debt free. In a previous article, I shared how our decision to get out of debt has changed our lives. Now, it’s time to share our plan for remaining (consumer) debt free – and paying off our mortgage.
We continue to live on a budget.
One of the benefits of being debt free can quickly become a curse – “extra” cash. Think about it. Without monthly payments, a goodly portion of our take-home pay is now available for…anything, really. Without the discipline of the budget, we might quickly waste the very “extra” cash that we should be saving. We use the awesome You Need a Budget tool to manage our monthly budget – and we stick to it. Every dollar has a purpose.
We plan for short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals – and save accordingly.
Staying out of debt takes just as much hard work as getting out of debt. In fact, to be honest, when our primary focus was debt reduction, managing our finances was, in some way, easier than it is now. Why? We only had one “primary goal”. Now, however, with our horizons broadened, and expectations elevated, we are thinking, not just about this month’s income or next month’s expenses, but about months, years, even decades down the road. Our financial position and our financial priorities have changed.
We routinely talk about our finances.
Years and years ago, my wife and I decided that we would not argue about our finances. We have a system for dealing with our finances, one that has worked for us for more than a decade. In the beginning, getting out of debt was “my” dream – but soon after we began our journey, it became my wife’s dream, too. Just last night, we were going over our schedule for the upcoming week – and we shared a smile as we divided our cash into our envelopes.
We protect our possessions.
As soon as we got out of debt, one of my priorities was to purchase more life insurance. Soon after, we purchased long-term disability insurance – and reworked our automobile insurance coverage.
We ignore the hype.
We drive used cars. We buy things that we like, not necessarily things that are popular. We follow a very simple investment strategy. Our goal is to live a balanced, simple, well-organized life. We do not chase returns or go after risky investments. Slow and steady, that’s us.
We take care of our stuff.
Here’s one way to save money: Make sure that the stuff you already have stays in good shape. We keep all owner’s manuals in a binder – ready to be used when it’s time to repair the belt of the vacuum, change the oil in the lawn mower, or replace the air filter for my old truck. From time-to-time, we’ll even spend a bit more, upfront, to insure that an item will last longer, in the long-run. For instance, I recently purchased a new grill and I made sure to also purchase a grill cover. For less than 20 bucks, I can prevent the rain from hitting the grill, and protect it.
We look for extra opportunities to make money.
I have a job that I love, but that doesn’t keep me from looking for ways to earn extra income. I will sell things on eBay, each year we have a yard sale, and my wife recently sold some items at a friend’s “closet sale”. Paying for purchases, instead of finances, requires cash. We work hard to earn extra, so that we can save extra, so that we can buy what we want or need when we want or need it.
I have several more living debt free articles coming your way this week. I hope you’ll enjoy the series. Please consider subscribing to No Credit Needed via free daily email or rss – and be sure to follow me over at twitter.com/NCN. If you do follow me, be sure to say hi.
One last note: If you have your own personal fiance blog and have written about paying off your debt, contact me with the link. Rock on.