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.
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.
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.
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?
Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.