I’ve often wondered what it would feel like emotionally to be debt-free. Or even CLOSE to being debt-free.
I haven’t known that feeling since I was 18 years old and promptly signed up for a JC Penny credit card… which I eventually defaulted on and had a charge off of $15 on my credit report from them for the next seven years. (That’s what happens when you decide your best way to address your financial trouble is not at all. I didn’t even open my mail for a long time at that age.)
Layer student loans and another credit card on top of that, and there started my journey with carrying debt.
And now here I sit. I have $991.77 left to pay off my car, and that will happen at roughly 3am this Friday.
What does that feel like?
It feels like expansion. It feels like an exhale. It feels like peace.
It feels like I am finally DONE with paying for my past. This last payment will be my final look in the rearview. My final payment to my old life and my old self and my past mistakes. It will be over.
The last time I mindlessly used a credit card was Labor Day weekend of 2017. I was in Minneapolis with my then-boyfriend. We had gone out to dinner with his friend and with the warmth of two margaritas running through me, I threw down my credit card when the bill came. ‘My treat!’ I happily proclaimed to them.
And for the first time ever as soon as the plastic hit the table, something felt different.
In the few days before that trip, I had listened to a couple Dave Ramsey podcasts. My wheels were turning. I was hearing people just like me who had changed their ways and were now winning with their finances. The sound of the plastic hitting the table evoked a visceral response in my bones for the first time ever.
I officially started my debt-free journey two days later. He and I broke up a month after that.
Making this final payment on Friday will be the severing of ties to everything I have been tethered to by debt. The shopping sprees to feel better about myself, the cool car to show that I was successful, the international vacations I deserved because of how hard I worked, the meals I treated people to. All. Gone. Paid in full.
With the ties to those past mistakes about to be severed, I have the ability to go full throttle in the direction I choose for myself. There won’t be $40,000 worth of weeds tangled in my propeller anymore, so to speak. And that is what debt felt like that entire time. A pull below the surface that slowed down my progress forward. Not anymore, and not ever again.