Personal Finance

Life after Debt Free

bdd734e3edb954ee064c8958019c6324It’s been a long time since I’ve been debt free, but I can still remember exactly what it felt like. I can picture all the uncomfortable  details of the way I used to struggle; the empty bank account, the awkward moments, the feelings of despair…. And honestly, one particularly awkward conversations and phone call with collection agents still plays clearly in my mind to this day.

It’s been about ten years since then, but at the time I was in my early thirties and fully in debt. A series of bad decisions meant that I was trapped in a desperate situation that felt nearly impossible to get out of. And although I was in decent job. Oh, and it gets worse.

Bad decisions have consequences

Have I ever mentioned that I once bought my first car way back in 2000 and bought a housing loan too, while making just a little over 15K in a month? The resulting 1100 monthly EMI payment, meant that more then 2/3 of my take home pay was being spent on EMIs. And by the time I realized what I had done, it was much, much too late.

I was (and still am) stubborn. So, instead of letting the things go, I struggled. This often meant that I didn’t have the money to put petrol in my car. And honestly, I thought it was ridiculous too. Living so close to my means meant that I was always just one step away from disaster. One day off work, one prolonged sickness, or one unfortunate incident had the potential to leave me completely desolate. I knew that I had to change something.Unfortunately, I struggled to figure out where to start.

The truth about being in Debt

Shortly after realizing I couldn’t afford to go out for dinner with family, I learned the truth about being in Debt. As much as I didn’t like it, I was going to have to make some drastic changes in order to improve my situation.  I started paying additional payments on EMIs, because I began part time insurance job.I felt a sense of victory each and every time. It became a matter of principle. Every inch of my being wanted to pay off the darn thing, and I was itching to mail in that last and final payment. Fortunately, it was only a matter of time.

After a 7 years or so, my car, housing loan, all credit cards and personal loans was completely paid off. However, I still learned an important lesson from the whole ordeal, when I finally debt free . The unfortunate truth is that I did it for no reason at all, except perhaps the opportunity to learn a lesson that I may never have learned otherwise.

What I learned from being Debt Free

Being debt free gave me an entirely different perspective on cash flow, debt and my own financial well-being. I learned that there was a big difference between looking like you have money and actually having money. I also learned about living within my means and the real-life consequences of unplanned purchases. And most importantly, I became willing to do anything and everything to make sure that I never take loan again. Once I was out of debt, I pledged to never let that happen again. I promised to rise above my situation and start with a clean slate. And I did. Of course, things haven’t gone perfectly since then.

Some of the lessons from that part of my life have stuck with me. Here’s what I learned from being in Debt:

  • Don’t rely on one income stream. I was never going to get ahead while relying on one full-time job for my entire livelihood. In fact,  I’ve learned that having one “job” means that you’re only one step away from not having a job at all.
  • Live below your means. In retrospect, I now realize that spending more then half of my income on paying EMIs is absolutely ridiculous. What was I thinking? Unfortunately, I wasn’t. Amazingly, I never once crunched the numbers to see what the real situation. Now that I’ve been free, I realize how important it is to live within my means. And now that I make more money, I choose to live within my means that I really need to.
  • Remember : Only We can solve our problems as they are consequences of our own actions.

Life after Debt Free

The truth about being in debt is that it can be exhausting and demoralizing. And although that part of my life caused a lot of heartache and embarrassment, I’m so glad that I was able to learn all of those lessons first hand. Now that I’m on the other side, I use those experiences as motivation to continue my quest for financial independence and security.

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