When I shared our family’s story of how we paid off $54,500 in debt, the response was overwhelmingly positive, and I heard from a lot of people who were in the process of shedding their debt (or at least wanted to get started).
However, the reasons that I heard for becoming debt-free were mostly focused on the usual, more material motivations.
It seems that most people dream of paying off their debts to reclaim more freedom in their financial life.
The idea of getting creditors off their back and having more of their income to save or buy things to improve their quality of life is very appealing. Honestly, that was a big part of why my wife and I decided we wanted to become debt free, and we achieved that goal (other than our home mortgage) three years ago.
74 Simple Things You Can Do to Brighten Your Spouse's Day
Join our free newsletter to get this popular checklist... plus even more tips to make your marriage thrive:
I think the purely financial benefits are pretty clear and widely written about.
Instead, I want to share with you some of the awesome marriage benefits that a debt-free lifestyle provides . While they weren’t our original motivation, our experiences in these areas have really grown our passion for getting (and staying) debt free.
5 Fantastic Benefits of a Debt-Free Marriage
A funny thing happens when you get control of your money – you cling to it less. With financial freedom comes a renewed focus on the things that really matter in life. And when your values are in the right place, you depend much less on “stuff” and the false happiness that comes with it.
If you are married and you want to make substantial changes to your financial situation, you will need to talk…a lot. The process of getting out of debt will require a real intimacy with your spouse and a deepening of the trust between you. The spirit of teamwork you develop on your financial journey together carries over to other areas of your marriage as well.
If you have a lot of debt to pay off and/or you are already on a tight budget, achieving debt freedom will be a significant accomplishment. When you meet a major goal, it fuels your faith in yourself and your ability to work alongside your spouse. And it fills your relationship with the courage to face any challenge.
4. Change (for your whole family)
When you decide to shed your payments, you are breaking a cycle that most of us have witnessed throughout our lives, and you are setting a new example for your own kids. With a solid financial plan, you’ll actually have resources available to help with your children’s future, retire with dignity and have the freedom of time to spend more with your family.
Personally, the best benefit that we’ve experienced since paying off our consumer debt is an increased ability and desire to give. When we are generous with the gifts we’ve been given, we can change not only our own family tree but a little piece of the world as well.
I will be the first to say that money doesn’t solve all of your problems, and no one should expect that debt freedom somehow brings instant happiness. However, we certainly do sleep a little better at night knowing that we owe no one (other than our mortgage company ) and we have a healthy emergency fund in the bank. This feeling of security and comfort is what financial peace is all about.
Debt Freedom Sounds Great, But How?
There are many great resources available to learn the mechanics of getting out of debt. For us, it was Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps alongside a solid budget that provided the game plan we needed. I would encourage anyone interested in paying off debt and building a solid financial plan to pick up Dave Ramsey’s very popular book The Total Money Makeover.
Establishing a game plan and garnering motivation from these resources is great. However, I have to say that we have discovered the real key to becoming and remaining debt free: mindset.
You have to believe that it is possible. And you have to want it. Bad.
Read the five benefits above again, and talk to your spouse about them. If you have debt, take some time to discuss what would be different in your life if you paid everything off. Only you can decide if financial freedom and going against cultural norms is worth it for your family.
How bad do YOU want it?
Since I’m a newer subscriber, I clicked over to read your ‘becoming debt-free’ story – wow! That’s amazing! We don’t have a huge amount of debt, but it keeps us living from paycheck to paycheck (hubby’s job, while honorable and rewarding, doesn’t pay much and we’re a one-income family). We don’t own a home; and this is part of the reason, a big part.
I’ve tried to get him to sit down and plan a budget, but he’s not really interested in doing that. I’ve tried to get him to follow the snowball principle, but there just doesn’t seem to be even a little that could be used to get that snowball rolling. I’ve tried to get him to ‘pay himself first’ (Wealthy Barber principle), but he doesn’t see how he can manage without that 10%. So, it’s tough.
When we were married the first time, I paid all the bills and kept the finances. He hated handing all ‘his’ money over to me; and this caused a bit of strain. When we got married the second time, I just didn’t get involved (other than the promptings listed above). While I don’t like the situation the way it is (I have no idea how much is in the checking account or what the credit card balances are), it has alleviated some of the strain and arguing as a result of money. He gives me a check on each payday, that I use to budget the food, toiletries, medicines, gasoline, co-pays, school supplies, etc. So I do my own budgeting with that. It’s not ideal, but at least the bills get paid.
Who knows… maybe I can get him to read this post, and your other one, and perhaps it will have a positive effect. Thanks for sharing this different perspective on a debt-free lifestyle.
Thanks so much for sharing, Heather. Like so much that we share here, this certainly isn’t the norm in our society, but I have to tell you that working hard for over 3 years together to get debt free and then making the tough choices to stay that way has been incredibly rewarding for our marriage.
I hope that others who have experienced this journey (or are currently on the road) will chime in here in the comments to share. As you saw on our debt-free post, there are some amazing stories!
Thanks for being here!
Heather I had a husband like that once and now he’s with the Lord. Just remember that you are doing the right thing and allowing your husband to be in charge is probably more of a power thing then anything else. Continue to budget with what you have and maybe someday he will see that he needs to change. At least he’s giving you part of his paycheck. Some men feel that if they turn over their paychecks to their wires that are less a man, totally not true God Bless
You hit the nail on the head with that one. There are so many benefits to being financially free. My wife and I are so close we can taste it.
Right on, Ryan!
My husband and I are also followers of the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover and it has really changed our financial lives as well as strengthened our marriage. We have been doing the TMMO since Oct 31 2010, so just under a year now, and to date, we have paid off $32880. We have admittedly slowed down while we are in the process of moving and buying a new home, but once the dust has settled, probably by November or December, we will be back on track to have all of our non-mortgage debt paid off by this time next year, with a larger goal to pay off the new house (to the tune of $400k) in 8 years. When we did Financial Peace University through Dave Ramsey, it made us talk about money, talk about our goals for our family, and how they can’t come to fruition just by hope and prayer alone. I’ve heard somewhere Pray like it all depends on God, Work like it all depends on you, and we’ve chosen to do just that. I love how in control being on a budget makes us feel. Additionally, I work for the government, and with all the turmoil since last April the government has now almost shut down twice…which would have meant no paycheck for me (and I’m the higher earner). Normally, that would have made me so nervous, but because we have been working on getting out of debt, and we keep a small emergency fund to the side, I know that we could have ridden out those storms if they came. I really hope a lot of people read your posting today and see the many benefits of getting debt free!
You go, Nikki! Wow, I’m really impressed and excited to hear that you’ve paid off almost $33,000 already. Can you imagine being TOTALLY debt free in a $400K house in just 8 years?
I can and it’s super exciting. Keep us posted!
I Cannot wait until we’re debt free! We’re not married yet…another down side to the debt (ie. satans bondage) that we have. We finally got on the same page about a household budget. That was a seriously tough process for us-we both had different ideas on how we should do it and we were always going against it if we weren’t the one to think of the “budget solution” for that particular month. We finally did it and are on our way to being debt free and having enough money (cash) to have a small wedding. Thanks for the extra boost! Debt free is the way to be!
Hi Julie! That paid-in-cash wedding will be awesome, and it will set you up for a much less stressful married life than the typical $25,000 credit-funded wedding day!
My husband and I started Dave Ramsey’s My Total Money Makeover In March of this year. It has made such a positive impact in our newlywed lives. Dave’s plan is so practical and doable that we immediately went gazelle, selling off everything that we could and paying off debt left and right. Per our plan we will be completely debt free by December of this year, paying off (selling off) a total of $171,000 in a year!
I can say that from the beginning of our relationship we have had open communication about money, finances, debt, and credit. My husband initially was more open and willing to share than I was. Now, it’s a very natural occurrence…we lay everything on the table. Although I’m a stay-at-home wife, I handle all of the finances. We both speak in terms of our money, there is no “my paycheck” it’s “when we get paid.” In turn, we have a very stress-free relationship. We never argue about money, because it’s not an issue. There are months where there is more month left than money, but it’s not a cause for concern because all our bills are paid, and were paying off debt. So, the sacrifice is small compared to the big payback of being debt free.
I would encourage every married couple to follow Dave’s plan. If your a wife or a husband that has a spouse who is unwilling to discuss finances, budgeting, or debt than I would definitely try to encourage them to at least read Dave Ramsey’s book or listen to his daily radio show or podcast. Quite possibly they will see the light and recognize the freedom, and benefits that accompany being debt free.
WOW Natasha! $171,000 of freedom in a single year – you guys are crushing it!
Thank you so much for sharing your story and your witness of the power of Dave’s plan and open financial communication. It truly is a beautiful thing.
Wow! Natasha! Your story is so inspiring! I hope you call Dave Ramsey to scream “We’re debt free!” when it happens.
That’s a plan to be proud of!
Great job as always Dustin. One thing I would add is that you get a freedom to CHOOSE! We choose to have Mandy stay home with our children and we never would have had that option if we hadn’t become debt free. Which, having 2 kids sick last week throughout the week, I can only imagine the stress it would have caused in our marriage to have to argue over which one of us was going to stay home from work. Thanks to debt freedom, those arguments never happened!
Perfect, Mike. As you know, we have the power to Choose as well and also are happy to have Bethany home with our kids now. This certainly wouldn’t have been possible with the weight of debt hanging over our heads.
I agree wholeheartedly with your reasons for getting debt-free. We did that as well! I am going to add a reason to my list: It can free up one spouse to pursue other career options. I am happily spending my time caring for family and household and writing. My dream to pursue writing is possible because of my husband’s provision and our financial security. A lot of people get stuck in jobs they hate and plenty of moms wish they could stay home with children but can’t – all because of crushing debt payments. Thanks for the encouragement & sharing your story!
I love it, J! We are in a similar situation with my wife choosing to leave the teaching profession to stay home with our three little ones. We just started that this year, and it’s totally made possible by our debt freedom. I’m excited to hear you get to experience this as well!
Hey Dustin – You know I love it when you talk about money and marriage!
My favorite part of your post is this: “Personally, the best benefit that we’ve experienced since paying off our consumer debt is an increased ability and desire to give. When we are generous with the gifts we’ve been given, we can change not only our own family tree but a little piece of the world as well.”
I’ve helped a bunch of people who want to become debt free for debt freedom’s sake. It’s not a bad goal, but it leaves a lot to be desired once it’s reached; where do you go from there? I think a broader objective of living a lifestyle of generosity is the kind of vision that guides for the long run. To live that lifestyle means handling money well and becoming debt free, anyway (more cash flow freed up, more opportunity to be generous).
Good for your guys, using what you’ve been blessed with to turn around and bless others. I’ve never met anyone who says, “You know, I really should give less and help fewer people.” Perhaps we really are ‘more blessed to give than to receive’ (someone pretty special once said that.
Great post – as usual.
Couldn’t agree more Dustin!
As soon as my husband finds a job, (if anyone needs a biological engineer, let me know!) we’re paying off the little debt we have. We were both blessed with parents who taught us the value of a dollar. Living off a master’s student stipend these last couple years would have been MUCH more difficult if we were committed to a budget…especially with the added blessing of our daughter last year.
Thanks for being such a huge proponent of living debt free. We have friends who believe debt is just another part of life, and it certainly doesn’t have to be!
“You have to believe that it is possible. And you have to want it. Bad.”
It’s not easy, but it’s SO worth it!
It really is good to have a debt-free marriage. Like any endeavors in life, we must make some sacrifices to attain the goals we want in life. It may take hard work to get us out of our debt, but the benefits like what you have stated above are worth all the hardships. 🙂
This is great. My wife and I want to be debt free and we don’t have much debt (school debt is the bulk of it). You’re right about the benefits of being debt free. My wife and I watch others buy stuff that we can’t afford and we sometimes wish we could buy cool stuff, but when we reflect on what consequences would come from going into more debt we no longer have a strong desire to buy that stuff. I’m a follower of Dave Ramsey and Crown Financial Ministries. They know what they’re talking about!
Being debt free is what I feel is God’s plan for us. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and He wants us to have what we need. Keep what you’re doing in prayer and God will give you wisdom on how to handle it all. God Bless
I believe that being debt is God’s plan for us. We don’t need to be indebted to anyone except HIM. He’s the one that has paid all for us and we should believe in Hi m to get us debt free.