Debt Freedom (and Sadness…)

My loans are gone.

I paid off $14,000 of debt in 7 months.

After I scheduled my final payment and then watched it clear from my account, I felt a sense of freedom I hadn’t felt in a long, long time.

DebtFree

For me, my loans were highly emotional. They served as a connection to a time of scarcity, fear and abuse. They were reminders of what I had been put through, but even beyond that, they were a reminder of what I had lost.

Today, the $0 balance is a reminder that I survived.

I made it. It’s done. Over. Finished. Complete.

On April 2, 2016 I smiled to myself as I scrawled in my journal, “Today is the day that a new chapter begins.”

Then something strange happened.

Over the past few days, I’ve started feeling sad, and the sadness has left me confused.

What the heck is wrong with me?

For all intents and purposes, my life is the same. Same job, same partner, same apartment, same salary, same friends. Nothing dramatic has occurred and nothing has been altered.

The only change? My loan balance is now $0.

As I’ve been grappling with these new emotions over the past few days, I’ve reached the same conclusion again and again: my loans were a distraction and a trap.

They were easy to fixate on and in comparison to some of life’s difficult questions (i.e. what’s my purpose? How do I heal from abuse?) they were easy to fix. But more importantly, it wasn’t until they were gone that I could get some clarity and start tackling the hard questions.

At its core, money is simple. We all understand how to add numbers, calculate net worth and earn money.

So why the hell do we struggle with it so much?

The part that makes money difficult (and also fascinating) is the emotions that drive our decisions.

Sacrifice, fear, pride, anger and hope.

Our money serves as a gauge for our lives. If you look closely at your money, it will provide you with a map of your inner self. It will show you what you worry about, what you care about and what you hope to achieve.

 

MoneyMap

 

When I started this website, I painstakingly chose my URL. I wanted it to convey what I truly believe about money. I wanted it to explain why money matters.

Since launching the blog, I’ve been asked multiple times, “What does ‘The Freedom From Money’ actually mean?

To me, the answer is two-fold. It means that you are free from the stress, anxiety and fear of overspending and not planning. That freedom also means that you are free to pursue the things that actually matter to you.

When you are trapped in the cycle of debt and overspending, your world shrinks. You are confined by payments, interest and stress.

For the past 7 months, my loans were my distraction, my solace and my purpose. Again and again, I told myself, “If you can pay them off, you’ll be free.”

Looking back, I’m not sure what I thought I would be “free” from—pain? Fear? Stress?

I’m free from the burden of debt. I’m free from accruing interest and I’m free from monthly payments.

But those freedoms aren’t the reason I did it. I did it because I’m now free to focus on the things that truly matter to me. I’m free to tackle life’s difficult questions.

That is why money matters and that is why saving, investing and debt repayment is so important.

When your money is in order, you are free to focus on the things that truly matter. At the end of the day, money is a tool. It’s a tool that can help you create a life you adore. It’s a tool that can help you reclaim your time, energy and life.

 For 7 months, I lived in a haze. I was working full-time, picking up freelance work on the side and barely functioning. My life’s purpose could be summarized by a single question: how much money do I need?

When I made my last repayment a few days ago, the fog finally cleared and I was left with a larger worldview. It is a worldview that can finally extend beyond my immediate needs and beyond the stress of money.

The sadness still lingers because I’ve realized that there is an area of my life in which I am deeply unfulfilled. But I’m grateful for the sadness because I know it means that I am finally free to tackle the questions that matter.

 

P.S. Thank you so much to everyone who has tweeted, emailed and provided support throughout this entire process. I am so grateful for this amazing community and for each and every one of you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

 

6 thoughts on “Debt Freedom (and Sadness…)

  1. Maggie @ Northern Expenditure says:

    This is common. Achieving a major goal has a letdown because your main purpose has been lost. But this is the time where the recalculating gets exciting. You get to choose a NEW path and you get to CHOOSE which one it is. You’re headed for greatness. Obviously. So I can’t wait to see where you head! Congrats on hitting the goal.

    Like

  2. Sarah Noelle @ The Yachtless says:

    Congratulations, Taylor!!! I’m so happy for you that you’re debt free. I know you worked reeeeeally hard to make this happen.

    It definitely makes sense to me that you might feel a sort of letdown or sadness at this point (though I have yet to experience this myself, haha, given the many payments still ahead of me). My best friend always reminds me that no matter how we’re feeling in a given moment, it’s important to recognize that that feeling will not last forever: it’s temporary, just like whatever situation we’re facing. And that’s true for you now too: in a month or two or three from now, you will have discovered new goals and/or a new way of looking at things, and everything will feel different. As you say, you have the chance now to figure out what really matters and tackle it. I’m excited to find out what you do next! 🙂

    Like

  3. Fervent Finance says:

    Congrats! And great perspective. I am definitely one that needs to think about money less and concentrate on other things that will feel more fulfilling. But I love spreadsheets and personal finances so much! 🙂 Have a nice weekend.

    Like

  4. Kara says:

    I totally relate! I paid off 13K in 7 months last year, and spent the rest of the year playing catch up with my savings. This year, I’ve finally had enough room to breathe and I realized: I’m not supper happy with my work. Yes, my debt is gone and that’s amazing, but the day to day of my life is not at it’s best. Now there’s a new project to do- find a better paying, better for me job. It’s scary, because it involves a lot of risk, but it’s something that has to be done.

    Sounds like you’re in a similar spot- trying to find more meaning, and a new, healthier direction to point your life in. Feel free to shoot me an email if you want to talk through this new period!

    Like

  5. Amanda S @ Passionately Simple Life says:

    Money is an object yet there are way too many emotions always attached to it. There have been times where I have even felt guilty for spending money on my needs. But that’s what money does. It’s definitely a lifelong battle for me and it seems now more than ever, I’m starting to realize more people also face the same upward climb. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  6. ZJ Thorne says:

    Congrats on this milestone! Figuring out what next, after money issues are cleared up can be a difficult journey into yourself. Some lessons will repeat themselves through the years. It can be frustrating, but variations on a theme reveal what your heart truly needs to understand.

    (And I was delighted to hear that another queer lady is blogging in the financial freedom space)

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s