July marks 6 full months that we have been completely debt free, including our house.

Our good friend and excellent photographer Graham Terhune took some pics of us while we were celebrating 5 years on June 22.  Visit GrahamTerhune.com.

Our good friend and excellent photographer Graham Terhune took some pics of us while we were celebrating 5 years on June 22. Visit GrahamTerhune.com.

It’s been amazing, and yet not exactly what we thought it would be.  I had a lot of plans for when we became debt free.  We’ve learned a lot.  Allow me to explain.

First let me say that it is still extremely fulfilling, it was still the right decision, and I’m thrilled and blessed to be able to say that we’re debt free.  The experience wasn’t quite what we’ve expected, and we’ve had to do some learning.

Being debt free doesn’t mean money grows on trees.  Despite having no debt whatsoever, we found out that money is still finite.  Surprise!  We still have to make choices, even without a mortgage payment.  And life is still expensive, even without a mortgage.  Saving for vacation still means that you can’t spend that money on new furniture.  Giving money away means there’s less to save for retirement.

Being debt free doesn’t mean you can stop managing your money.  You will still run out of money if you’re debt free and live like a rockstar.  You will never outgrow the need to plan your spending.  That’s just the facts of life!  Money flows from people who don’t manage it to people who do manage it well.  And it will still flow away if you don’t manage it, leaving you wondering where it all went!  Nancy and I had a budget committee meeting last night for this month, just like we have for the last 5 years.

Being debt free doesn’t mean you’re automatically on the same page with your spouse.  You’re still different people, with potentially different views, opinions, objectives, and desires.  We had some really tough discussions in the first few months, hashing out exactly what kind of lifestyle we were going to live now that we’re debt free.  I had to loosen up a bit to get in line with reality, being the nerdy, simple saver that I am.

Now some good things:

Being debt free allows you to give a lot more.  We are giving a bunch more money away now.  Looking at the numbers, we have increased our designated giving by nearly 50% each month.  We sponsored another child through Compassion International, so we now have a boy in Indonesia and a girl in Kenya.  We made a new commitment to outreach ministries that our church supports.  We even created a little “Blessing Fund,” money set aside each month just for us to write checks and be a blessing to ministries or individuals as opportunities are provided.  I say all this to inspire you towards debt freedom – it will allow you to do this and more!

Being debt free brings lots and lots of peace.  It’s an intangible, immeasurable thing, but there’s a peace with our finances and life that we didn’t have before.  If the worst possible thing were to happen and I were to become permanently disabled or very ill (God forbid), it brings me a lot of peace to know that if Nancy can scrape together $2000/year for property taxes and insurance, she’ll always have a home.

Being debt free allows you to have some fun!  We are gonna vacation in September like nobody’s business to celebrate 5 years of marriage.  We spend money on fun things for each other.  We go places we wouldn’t normally go.  We’re going to Disney World next year.  Being debt free is fun!

It’s been great thus far, and it gets better every month.  If you’re working on becoming debt free yourself, stay with it!  It’s worth the journey.

With that said, here’s some goals for July!

– Rest
– Host two awesome financial coaching sessions (thrilled about these)
– Set up the new WilliamRay.com
– Play golf 2 times
– Go to Nicaragua with 20 awesome people to share the Gospel (prayers appreciated!)
– Get out on the boat
– Read
The Harbinger
– Exercise at least three times a week

Question: What are some dreams of yours when you get to be debt free?