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Oct 18

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Being debt-free

As I’ve documented extensively during The Miracle Challenge, I’m working now on taking control of my financial life. Since I was a child, I always felt like money controlled me rather than the other way around. Now I’m ready to change that dynamic.

Over the past couple of weeks, MBE and I have talked a lot about my financial picture and how I can structure my life so that I’m paying off debt and, at the same time, not feeling deprived.  What I know about myself is this: when I set up a financial program for myself that is too stringent and allows me no wiggle room, I will stay absolutely committed for a few weeks or months and then I’ll feel so constrained that I’ll blow all the progress I’ve made in totally unnecessary spending.

MBE is really good with financial spreadsheets and he’s blessedly helping me make progress toward a plan I can live with.  At some point in this process, a powerful mantra popped into my mind that I can use whenever I’m tempted to spend on some bright shiny object outside my budget:

“Is it more important to me to have this bright shiny thing, or is it more important to be debt free?”

That mantra could potentially become the most important tool I’ve got in making financial progress because it reminds me that I ALWAYS have a choice and I’m not at the mercy of my own dysfunctional whims.

It’s already helped in one powerful situation.

Eight months ago my cell phone contract ended.  I’ve remained in an out-of-contract state for that whole time because I couldn’t figure out what I’d rather do: get a smart phone (another bright new shiny toy) or cut my bill in half and get a less sophisticated phone and plan.  It has been such a significant dilemma that I kept myself in a state of complete inertia.  FOR EIGHT MONTHS.

The other night I asked myself – would I rather have a smart phone, or would I rather be out of debt?

Put in those terms, it took me all of 3 seconds to make a decision.  I’d rather be out of debt.  Period.

So I’ve got a tool and I’m close to having a program.  I’m in a lot better shape than I was a month ago when I started the Challenge!!

About the author

Leah Carey

Leah Carey is the Chief Miracle Officer of The Miracle Journal, where she writes about the large and small miracles that happen in her life every day. She is a life coach, speaker, journalist, freelance writer, and lover of life. In all of those pursuits, she works with people to identify what’s already right in your life so you can build an even more joyful and fulfilling daily experience from that foundation. You can find her on Facebook, , Twitter, and YouTube.

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3 comments

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  1. Peggy Nolan

    Hi Leah,

    Last October I embarked on being DEBT FREE. I’ve done it twice in my life before using what Dave Ramsey calls the “snowball effect.” I think I used it 20+ years before he wrote about (see, nothing new is ever written!!)

    I paid off $25k in debt in the last twelve months. I have about $6k more to go and should have that gone by 12/31 if not sooner.

    I did not live a frugal life doing this either. I just made the determination that there would be no new debt. I’ve made the conscious and mindful decision to live debt free. I still went on 2 vacations (paid in full with cash) and I still paid down debt even while I was happily unemployed.

    And quite frankly, being mindful about my balance sheet stopped me from buying that shiny “new” car the other day :-) I’m not buying until I can pay cash and still have $xxxx in my savings account!

  2. Leah Carey

    I LOVE it, Peggy! Thanks for the inspiration. :-)

    I’ve heard of Dave Ramsey a bunch of times but have never read his book. I’ll have to check it out!

  3. Gina Masters

    Leah – Good for you! You know that Josh and I have been working Dave Ramsey’s program for 3 years now, right? We’ve paid off $66K in debt…with just a little bit more to go. Did you see my guest post on http://www.becomingminimalist.com ? It was on ideas/ways we used to tighten our budget and get out of debt. It’s gotten great response so far – go read it! Cheering you on, my friend!

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