Earlier this spring, I sat on my couch surround by stacked boxes full of my belongings. I was taking a packing break by reading my favorite subscription blog, TwoBossyDames. I follow the duo for their wit, writing and pop culture. Just two Millennial librarians helping this Gen Xer stay current. This spring they ask their readership what following your dreams looks like after age 40.
The timing of the questions hit the bullseye with me. I responded to their survey from which they would create their next two blogs. I had just quit my job of 17 years to start new a job in another state. I had an offer in on a new house and would soon have one on the market. I was moving closer to my parents and my horses. I was in the sweaty middle of what chasing dreams looks life after 50!
The time out created by the pandemic provided gave me the the time and space I needed to get clear on how I wanted to live the next phase of my life. As I worked on ideas, one thing became clear; it was time to get out of debt. While I had worked hard to be financially independent, I was carrying a house note, a car loan and some credit card debt. With the brakes thrown on my social like by social distancing, I was spending much less. I paid off the smallest debt first, then the next and finally the house.
I became debt free one year ago today.
Once I was out of debt, I started saving like crazy. It seemed as if the more money I saved, the more that came my way. I was able to stock pile enough cash to cover moving expenses, two months of Cobra, a few new clothes, household items, new home and car insurance, two weeks off between jobs and the awkwardness of new pay schedule and setting up a new bank account. I did so well, that I still have a cushion.
After clarifying what I wanted, becoming debt free became my number one priority. With the spending less than I make a savings steps now a habit, I am eyeing my next goal. I want to stop full time office work in four years. I don’t yet know if this is retiring early, consulting or taking another type of position. It doesn’t matter what I decide to do in four years, I want to be ready when I decide.
I understand that situations are different for everyone. This is not a judgement call about debt or “you should do this” blog. I wanted to share and celebrate that after years of struggle, I have found that living with no debt offers incredible security and freedom. The line in my monthly budget where I place my savings and anything leftover from a budgeted area is put into a category called FREEDOM.