‘There is no such thing as good debt’ Joshua Fields Milburn
‘Debt is the slavery of the free’ Pubililius Syrus
‘Never spend your money before you have it’ Thomas Jefferson
What happens if I lose my job? Will I be bankrupt? Can I live this lifestyle earning less? How will I feed the kids?
Money (lack of) is one of people’s biggest fears, but I bet most people can live well, more than just survive, with significantly less.
You probably don’t like your job, most people don’t – I know I don’t. You’d love to quit your time, energy and health consuming employment so you could study music – you always wanted to play the guitar proficiently after all. But you can’t because you have a mortgage, car payments, credit card bills, kids to feed and clothe. You’re tied to it. You’re anchored.
The thought of selling the place, renting something cheaper and meaner never crossed your mind. That would be a downgrade after all and what would the neighbours, friends, family say? What would Society say? – ‘He went crazy, sold his place, quit his high paying job and is now playing guitar whilst working part-time on a restaurant. Can you imagine that?’
Well, can you?
Why do we buy a house in the 1st place? That’s easy: because we’re supposed to. We’re expected to study hard, work hard, get married, borrow to buy THE house, borrow to fill it with stuff, borrow to have THE car, borrow to have THE overseas holiday, borrow to upgrade, have kids, continue to work hard long all-consuming hours, climb up the corporate and social ladder, with the expectation of being lucky enough to retire in health.
I’m not saying to quit your job, sell your house, your car and get a divorce. I’m saying, ‘Yes, it is very possible to be debt-free and live a significant life’ – the key words here being FREE and SIGNIFICANT. I’m trying for you to imagine living with no debt and having the option of choosing where you live, what you do for a living and what you do for living.
It will require discipline, sacrifice and a lot of effort. But all things worthwhile do!!
OUR DEBT-RELEASE PLAN
Mortgage is our biggest concern as far as debt goes. The way I see it, there are 3 ways to get rid of it faster:
- Sell the place – done, no more mortgage;
- Have extra income – get a raise, a 2nd job, change to a job with higher pay, casual work;
- Cut costs.
Currently we’re considering and exploring options 1 and 3, respectively. Option 2 implies giving up a lot of time and energy on doing something I am no longer excited about.
We’re contemplating selling our 3 bedroom house in a 607m2 lot and buying a smaller one. But only if what we have left from selling and paying our debt is enough to buy a house we like.
Yes, we’re both aware that we’ll have to downsize and that it will probably be a small apartment or unit, but it will be home and owned by us, not the bank.
If we can’t afford to pay cash for a place we like, we’ll rent.
Here’s an outline of what we’ve done so far:
- Proactive Budgeting
We’ve made an exhaustive list of ALL costs. House, car, utilities, internet, insurances, kids, eating out, supermarket, dentist, hair cuts, entertainment, clothing, gadgets, trinkets, travel, etc.
We tagged each item in this list with one of the following: “NEED”; “WANT”; and “NICE TO HAVE”.
Added up the sums for each of the categories and started living in the ‘I-want-it-and-it-would-be-nice-to-have-but-I-don’t-need-it-so-I-won’t-get-it’ mindset. That’s a lot of money saved right there. It involves a lot of discipline, but our goal is paramount so it makes it a lot easier.
- We’ve made a 30 day waiting period wish list. If we think we ‘need’ something and want to purchase it, we put it on this list together with the current date. After 30 days, if we still see there’s value in acquiring it, we start researching this item. We always look to get a quality 2nd hand item. To date I’ve acquired a Kindle about 45 days after putting it in the list and completed a barista course. All the other items have been scratched after the waiting period.
- We’re currently selling a car. We’ll keep one as we take great value from it.
- I started to take lunch to work every day and stopped buying coffee.
- We have prepared 5 different weekly menus, which provides variety and makes food shopping faster. It also produces less waste and is cheaper (there is no impulse buying since the weekly list is proven).
- We reduced our internet plan. We considered cutting it completely, but we need Skype.
- We started to use cash as much as we can. We have fixed a monthly budget for: Food; Fuel; and Entertainment. At the beginning of each month we withdraw a set amount and place it in the 3 envelopes named as above.
Using hard currency makes our available budget more visual and helps considering our purchases. If the entertainment envelope is empty we’ll stay home that weekend.
- We have started to say ‘No’ “No, I can’t go out to dinner. The Entertainment envelope is empty.”, “No, I can’t go on that weekend trip. I can’t afford it.” We’re not cheapskates, we never were. The difference is that now our actions are in line with new priorities.
Even when we get free of debt, we’ll continue to enforce financial discipline and serious, deliberate consideration for any new purchases. This will mean more ‘freedom’ in our pockets. ‘Freedom’ we’ll use for experiences and the pursuit of more expensive interests.