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What Does Debt Freedom Mean to You?
What Does Debt Freedom Mean to You?

What Do You REALLY Want?

What Does Debt Freedom Mean to You?
What Does Debt Freedom Mean to You?









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I’m sitting here in my office right now, freezing my tail off.  We keep the heat much lower than I’d like it to be.  Why?  Because we want debt freedom more than we want the instant gratification of a warm house and whatever else our little hearts desire to have.

Is this a fun way to live?  Yes, and no.  At first glance when we choose to tell ourselves “no” to things, we’re tempted to throw a bit of a tantrum and argue with ourselves about how we want/need/deserve A, B or C.  That part is NOT fun, but it’s easily and quickly overtaken by “Yes” when we remember what’s waiting for us at the finish line of our marathon to debt free.  What’s waiting for us?

1.  No More Being a Slave.  No more being under the thumb of credit card companies and mortgage lenders.  No more having them dictate what we do and don’t do, where we work, and how we spend our time as we hustle to find ways to send them OUR hard-earned money.

2.  LOTS less stress.  I would say that 90% of the stress in our lives is financially related.  Every time we have to spend money, whether for a medical bill, food, car/house repairs, whatever, there is stress.  Why?  Because we have to figure out how we’re going to come up with the  money and balance it with the bills that are due.  When the debt is gone, we’ll work on building a mighty fluffy savings account so that it goes back to being “just money” and not a constant source of stress for us every time we have to make a spending decision because of the lack of available funds.

3.  Freedom.  To go, do and experience more things.  To decide whether or not we’ll take a vacation, buy clothes, switch jobs or buy something based on whether or not it’s best for our family instead of whether or not we’ve got the cash.

4.  More Time.  We spend WAY too much time thinking about money and working extra hours to pay the bills.  What a waste!  If our debt was gone and we had a solid savings/financial plan in place, we wouldn’t spend half the time thinking about money that we do now.

5.  Peace.  I want you to take a moment to imagine your life without debt.  You owe no one, and have enough money in savings and retirement funds that you can make spending/working/living decisions based on what you want to do rather than on whether or not you can pay the bills.  I know it’s tough – you’ve been struggling with money for SO long, but just close your eyes for a moment and imagine someone just handed you a couple of million in cold, hard cash.  You pay off your bills, your mortgage, and bank the rest in a safe interest-bearing investment.  You are now free to quit your job, move to a warmer climate, buy whatever you need, and give however you please.  Can you feel the peace flooding over you?  Are there tears in your eyes as you immerse yourself in the feeling of what it’s like to be debt free?

This is why we live the way we live.  It’s why we keep the heat low, hang dry our clothes, and keep our grocery budget for our family of six to $400 a month.  And keep our entertainment budget to $60 a month.  We do this so that one day, in the not-t0o-distant future, that “feeling” we felt when we imagined life being financially free will be REAL.  We choose to live like no one else lives so that later we’ll be able to live like no one else lives, as Dave Ramsey says.

My in-debt friends,  I know you’re so tired of running the race required to keep up with your creditors.  You deserve better,  MUCH better,  You deserve to have more through a life of financial freedom.  Join the growing crowd of those people and families choosing to say “NO MORE” to the lure of instant gratification and materialism, and join us all on the road to financially free.



  1. I just finished this on the commute to work. I sooooo didn’t want to leave the warm embrace of my bed. Off to sell some more of my time and life force. Thanks for the motivation Laurie – this was a great start to another week on the salt mines!

  2. Great post Laurie! We want very badly to be debt free so that we can have more freedom and not be slave to anyone. Freedom, peace, and more time are all things we can very much relate to. Can’t wait to get there! On days when I’m feeling like we are never going to get there I just remind myself that we are doing better than so many folks who haven’t even begun to recognize that debt is a problem- and unfortunately I think that’s quite a few.

    • Laurie says:

      Dee, this is something we do often too: reminding ourselves that we are doing better than so many others. Not in a prideful way, just in a way to encourage ourselves that at least we are doing something to get to the finish line. Can’t wait till we all get to that place of debt freedom!

  3. Brit says:

    Great post. I think back to all the stress money caused me and I can say that it gets better. My fear is to get back into old habits that’s why I continue to find ways to keep focus.

    • Laurie says:

      That’s a great point, Brit. I would imagine it’s important not to lose focus once the debt is gone, lest a person fall back into frivolous spending. Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  4. I’m with you on this: I want a life that doesn’t include student loans and other debt, but that does include investments, emergency funds, and savings! I think small sacrifices like living with the heat on lower are great ways to slowly get to that place.

  5. Great post! This is so true and I was think it this morning as I had to drive into work today with snow on the ground in unsafe driving conditions. Really just wanted to take the day, but couldn’t.

  6. E.M. says:

    My top priority and want is to pay off my student loans, so I’m right there with you. When you keep this in mind it sometimes makes the sacrifices a little bit easier, knowing one day, it will be well worth it. It’s also why paying off debt builds so much character.

    • Laurie says:

      You’re so right, E.M. We’ll all be saying how very much worth it all of the sacrifices were when we’ve come to the day of debt free. 🙂

  7. I’m willing to give up some things for the things I really want, but there are other things that would make me really unhappy in the day to day if I gave them up and I’m not willing to live that way. So while I’ll give up Starbucks, I’m not giving up heat (I’m one of those people who is cold ALL the time, even bundled up)

    • Laurie says:

      Stefanie, you’ve brought up a very good point. It is so important to have the ability to draw that line in the sand about what we’re willing to sacrifice and what we’re not. Some things are just not worth the sacrifice, and that’s okay, isn’t it!

  8. Right now, for me, debt freedom just means that I get to keep all my paycheck money to do as I please. 🙂 My whole adult life, I’ve always had debt and pay back, I would love to finally know the feeling of not owing anyone anything. Free!

    • Laurie says:

      Doesn’t it sound wonderful, GMD? Imagine keeping that whole check and being able to say “Hmmm, what should I do with this?”. 🙂

  9. I am currently sitting under blankets in my cold home too! For exactly the same reason, we could pay more in heating or we could grab a blanket or a sweater and get ourselves one step closer to our financial goals faster. It truly is a step by step process, but like you said, when you visualize it, it does bring a tear to your eye and make your “difficult” choices seem more bearable.

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, yes, won’t it be nice when spring arrives. 🙂 Shannon, I know we’ll both be glad we bucked up and made the necessary sacrifices when that day of debt free arrives. Those little steps really do make the difference!

  10. I know what you mean. Our programmable thermostat still goes on “daytime” mode at 8:30 (which is a temp of 50 degrees), so by 10:30 I’m freezing my tail off. I’ve taken to doing some chores at that point to get my blood flowing, then turn the heat up to normal (we like 67 degrees when we’re home), and hop in the shower to get my body temp up until the heat works its magic in my office. We are strange, frugal, beings, eh? 🙂

    Debt freedom to me means being able to put roots down in the community I want to live in, because we’ll be able to buy a home and raise our child in the same home through his whole life (hopefully!)

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, sounds like our house, Rebecca! You guys have a great goal in wanting to provide stability for your son – best of luck in getting there quickly, and being able to turn the heat up when you get there. 🙂

  11. I wish I could turn the heat down. I would turn it down by many degrees, because each degree will shave off 3% off the heating bill. But with a toddler and a pregnant wife, it ain’t gonna happen.

    Our motivation is definitely for the freedom to do what we want with our money and not to be a slave to the lender. It’s bad enough that the government takes a big chunk of my paycheck.

    And being debt-free, we can start to build wealth much faster, help pay for college and take nice vacations (saved up with cash).

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, it’s definitely different with small kids and a pregnant wife in the house, Charlie. Great point about being able to build wealth faster when you’re debt free too – things move upwards much, much faster when you’re not paying interest to others.

  12. Michelle says:

    Ever since I made the switch to working for myself from home, I feel like I have everything that I want. More time wouldn’t be bad too though 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, I think we could all use that, Michelle. So very, very happy for you that things are going so well at home. You are a prime example of chasing after your dreams and succeeding at it. Thanks so much for inspiring us, Michelle!

  13. Joshua says:

    Hey Laurie, I absolutely love this post. You know, I remember being a young kid and saying something about foreigners owning all the 7-11’s as a joke of course. Then my Dad sat me down and said something to the affect of “Son, where many of them come from, they have very little money. So, they don’t take for granted the things we do. Things like heat, eating at Mc. Donald’s, shopping for things you don’t necessarily need were never in their upbringing. So when they come here, they work hard and make things happen. Even if that means working multiple jobs and living on a very tight budget. In time, they know they will live the American dream.” That has a lot to do with the way I live today. Believe it or not, it’s much like the way you live. Although, I don’t have extravagant amounts of debt, I do have a desire to be financially free, and have the ability to take very good care of my future family. OK, so it’s a bit of a long winded comment. The point here is frugality and sacrifice lead to a better life in the future.

    • Laurie says:

      Joshua, your father is a wise man, and he’s so right about immigrants having a totally different attitude than we do. This is why I love studying the Great Depression so much – people had a much clearer perspective on their priorities back then. Great comment, Joshua – thank you!

  14. Hi Laurie! You’re so right, friend. I know I get easily sidetracked by all these things I think I “need” and then they turn out to be a flash in the pan. Being conscious that debt (or not debt) is a daily decision and making the effort to critically analyze spending is so important. Nicely done, you guys are amazinng!

    • Laurie says:

      “a flash in the pan”. That’s a terrific way to put it, Lindsey. Those instant gratification purchases and decisions, the “reward” of them are often gone in an instant, and then you’re stuck paying for them for years. Great comment!

  15. I’m so looking forward to point no. 5 – peace. I know exactly what you mean, as I imagine my own debt free future, I can almost feel that sense of calm at not owing anyone anything.

    This journey is hard but oh so worth it Laurie! 🙂

  16. Terrific post! I can say as someone recently debt free that every one of those points is TRUE! Especially #1 – the whole feeling like slave to debt was so demoralizing and managed to make me so angry at the same time. And it stunk worst of all since I was angry at myself for getting into the whole mess.

    Totally worth being chilly, Laurie! Totally worth it.

    • Laurie says:

      Mel, thank you so much for sharing that inspiring comment. It’s great to hear from someone who has reached the top of their mountain and can now see the whole picture. HUGE congrats to you on making it to debt free. 🙂

  17. anna says:

    Such a motivating post, Laurie! We keep our place pretty cold, too (well, by SoCal standards) and would rather just layer on the clothing that pay up on the electricity bill so we can have all that you’ve listed, as well. You are doing awesome, especially with your food bill (so impressed with that!).

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, yeah, it’s good, but I think everyone’s getting a bit bored with the menu plan lately. We’re going to have to do some research and change things up, and I’m certainly looking forward to the garden bounty to enhance our meals this year. 🙂

  18. Alicia says:

    I feel like I could have written this entire post! So easy to relate to. That is essentially everything I am working for as well. Thanks Laurie.

    • Laurie says:

      That’s great, Alicia! My daughter and I were talking last night about this whole PF world, and how it feels like we’ve found a secret treasure in this group of people striving toward debt freedom. We know and understand what it will be worth to get there, so we keep hanging on.

  19. I think a lot of these promises really will come true once you’re debt free. For me, personally, I still end up thinking about money quite a lot even though we’re debt free, as we’re devoted to certain financial goals. So, at least for us, that’s still kind of a downside that we haven’t found a way to eliminate. Still, it’s a lot better than it was…way less stressful.

    • Laurie says:

      I would imagine that spending time thinking about money to build wealth would be a little less stressful than worrying about the debt thing, but I can totally understand being concerned about making the right investing decisions. Now that you guys have worked so hard to be debt free, you certainly don’t want to blow your wealth by making unwise money moves. 🙂

  20. I think even though I’m debt free I still think about money SO MUCH! It’s almost like I’m afraid to let my guard down, or for sure I’m afraid the freelance work will stop. But I can understand where you’re coming from. You have more tenacity than most people in debt. You can see how bad you want it!

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, I can understand that, Tonya, and I think it’s smart in a way because it keeps you actively searching for work. We’re a bit more comfy than we should be, as Rick has a “secure” job, but does that really mean anything in today’s world?

    • Laurie says:

      It’s ridiculous, isn’t it?? I’m working extra hard on conserving propane so we don’t have to fill up again till the end of March, at least. Not sure if it’s going to work, but we’re sure going to try. Those prices are just unacceptable, aren’t they? This is exactly why some of our country friends keep their heat at 54. That’s a bit too much for me, but one degree at a time, right? 🙂

  21. Less Stress <—- YES, THIS. I can tell you that I personally feel 6 inches taller as we scheduled our final payment to our DMP. Now all that energy that had been required to ensure all the money buckets were filled at the appropriate time can be slashed to a fraction of what was required before…..and can be used towards other productive things. Like RELAXING. LOL….

    • Laurie says:

      Oh, Travis, we are SO living vicariously through you guys as we imagine what that must feel like. I’m guessing the day our consumer debt is gone, we’ll either have a huge party, or take a very, very long nap. 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      That’s the way to do it, Charles. Make a plan, put in your time, and get it done!! I don’t have a doubt in the world that you guys will do this well. 🙂

  22. The best part is when others come over and we still have the heat on the lower side (we turn it up a bit, but not to sauna levels). They think it’s freezing! It’s a great way to also appreciate the small things in life. When you do put the heat up a degree or two, it really feels nice.

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, that’s how it is when we go to our friends’ house – they keep it at 54. 🙂 But honestly, we’re totally inspired by them – they’re rock stars in that area!

  23. You will love being debt free and it will be so worth it because you had to sacrifice. I love being free of payments and debt to anyone. It really is worth the months and months of living on less. Keep going! 🙂

  24. Susannah says:

    Wonderful thoughts! I was wondering if you are ever going to give us the real numbers, or if you want to keep that private. Perhaps I missed that in a past post. I totally understand if you don’t want to disclose that, though. It takes a lot of courage to put it out there. It’s just that when I read PF blogs that do run the numbers (ie. Debt-Free Tejana, Dear Debt etc.), the readers can see the victories and/or the struggles. The race seems more real, and we can vicariously cheer them on!

    • Laurie says:

      Hi, Susannah! We haven’t released the real numbers yet, but we will. Not sure when though. We are working on a book documenting our journey and the real numbers are in the book, but we might put them on the blog someday. One of the main reasons we haven’t put them out there is because we’re worried we might get a “Oh crap – you guys are in WAY too deep – you’ll NEVER do this!” reaction from many people, and we aren’t quite in a place psychologically where we’re ready to take that much negativity. Suffice to say that when people do hear the actual numbers, they’ll be astonished. 🙂

  25. Keep it up Laurie! Thinking of why you’re doing it makes it easier to actually do it, even when you get out of debt. It’s incredibly freeing knowing that you can do what you want because you don’t have to worry about banks or credit card companies coming after you. The sacrifices are worth it 6 days a week and twice on sundays.

  26. Love this, Laurie! I hate stressing over money too. Working freelance, it seems like I’m always trying to balance the books. And it is stressful and exhausting and time-consuming. I need to spend less time worrying and more time working! 🙂 And I think that’s part of the rub. We use up a lot of our time and energy worrying instead of doing. At least, I’ve been plenty guilty of doing that but now I’m trying to focus my attention on doing things that actually get results! I’d tell you it’s cold here too, but yeah…it’s different. 🙂 I like to give my parents a hard time when I talk to them. They said this winter has been loooooooong! Stay warm, my friend!

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, yes, you totally get these MN winters, and I think of you often when things get really bad, and I think about how nice it must be to only be in semi-cold weather with NO snow. 🙂 You’re right though, about the stress. That is one thing I’ll be happy to see go when the debt is paid off. Thanks for weighing in, Tanya! 🙂

  27. Less stress and more time is what we’re after. I know others in the PF blogosphere who do not advocate paying down the mortgage since you could potentially get a better return elsewhere. I’m not looking only for the monetary return, but a life energy return. Being mortgage free will reduce stress and give us more of our time back since we won’t have to work so hard outside of the home if we don’t want to. That’s what’s most important to me. Great post, Laurie.

    • Laurie says:

      We’re in the same place, Kay. We just don’t want to owe anybody money any more ever….again. Even if it means we’ll lose some on ROI. Not that one option or the other is better, but this option is the best for us. 🙂

  28. Yes please – i’ll take some more time :p

    You will love being debt free, and I can’t wait to read all about your life when you attain that success. Seeing how hard you work on your website (plus many others) I am sure that you are more than motivated enough to achieve your debt reduction goals.

    Keep up the good work and rewards will follow.

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, couldn’t we all use more of that! Thanks so much for the encouragement, Glen. We’re eager to see what life is like debt free as well. It’s what keeps us going. 🙂

  29. Matt Becker says:

    The stress and freedom are huge and go hand in hand. Being able to make money decisions because you want to, not because you have to, lets you live your life in a much happier and purposeful way. The sacrifices are worth it!

  30. Marvin says:

    Great article Laurie! So very true, a lot of people won’t admit it but finances are a big deal of our life. Figuring out what you want and creating goals to obtain them is key.

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  32. I get so irritated when anyone in my house turns on the heater! Haha they’re not the ones seeing the bill increase as the weather gets colder, so I guess I can understand. But goodness – just hang out under a blanket for the sake of saving money, why don’t ya!

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, funny, Lisa!! Yeah, I know what you mean. I no longer have hidden irritation for all of those years my dad hollered at us for stuff like that. 🙂

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