You’re Out of Debt! Now What?
By Jeannie Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
Daniel and I met in 2011. We knew right away that our relationship was special, so it might not surprise you to learn that we started talking about some pretty serious stuff early on: kids, marriage, and, especially, money (he is Dr. Budgets, after all!). Before too long, Daniel had looked at where I was spending my money and made some suggestions to pay down the debt I had been struggling to eliminate. Dr. Budgets was founded about 1½ years after we met*, and so that makes me Dr. Budgets’ first client! As the “OG” client of “Dr. B,” I have some insights to share 🙂
Dr. Budgets has had many success stories… Clients have done amazing things! But, after you accomplish your financial goal, what comes next? Can anything top the feeling of paying off the debt that has been weighing on your shoulders? The answer is YES! What comes after paying off your debt is EVEN BETTER. If you stick with your spending plan, the accomplishments that follow continue to add to your overall sense of well-being. Maybe what I’m trying to describe is best said in a previous blog post:
“I soon realized I wasn’t worried about money at all. I never need to worry because we have automatic payments and buffers, and anything I need or want to buy is accounted for in the budget.”
Can you imagine that? Not having to worry about money? Let me tell you, it’s a beautiful thing. It took some work to get here though. First, I had to learn to live without my credit cards to pay off debt. Then, I had to learn to spend within my (and, eventually, our) spending plan. I also made some lifestyle changes to pay off my debt even faster, including renting out a room and getting a side gig to earn money on the weekends (but I was able to let go of both of those after I paid off my debt).
Now that I’m on the other side of debt and well into my “coaching” with Dr. Budgets, I can say my feelings about money have never been better. For example:
- I love my job, and I continue to love to work after having our daughter. But it’s nice to know that I don’t have to work at my job if I didn’t want to work anymore. I’m not a slave to my job, and I think that makes me love my job even more! Life is too short to hate what you do.
- I love our home, but it’s not our forever home. We’re working toward buying our dream house – not just a “it’s bigger than what we currently have and we need the space so we’ll take it” house. We’ve talked about amenities and location, and it’s within reach. I can actually see our daughter happily playing in the backyard of our future home. Paying off debt felt good, but debt is the past… Now, we’re working toward our future.
- We live in uncertain times and sometimes I’m nervous about the future. When I was in debt, I was VERY nervous about the future because I was one emergency away (car breaking down, a trip to the ER, losing my job) from being in a financial crisis. When I paid off my debt, I was able to create a financial safety net. Having savings gives me a sense of security.
Those are just a couple of examples of how life is better after paying off debt. But, besides these incredible side effects, what comes next after paying off debt? Here are some ideas, from Daniel:
Evaluate your spending plan. You’ve likely had a line item for debt repayment that can be re-directed. Determine how much of that you want to go into savings and other items in your budget. Maybe you want to give yourself a little breathing room in discretionary spending, or maybe you’ve become very comfortable with your spending plan and can put that money entirely toward your next financial goal.
Celebrate! You’ve accomplished something remarkable! Take a moment to acknowledge your sacrifices and reflect on your achievement. Set a budget and treat yourself to something to celebrate… you deserve it!
Create or Increase Emergency Savings. If you were able to put money toward emergency savings while paying down debt, that’s great! Maybe beef it up a bit to cover a longer stretch of time (6 months instead of 3 months, for example). If not, creating an “emergency savings” or “short-term savings” account should be your first priority.
Set your next financial goal. Get excited about your next financial milestone! Do you want to take a debt-free vacation? Save for a house or buy a new car?
If you’re working toward a financial goal, such as paying off debt, good for you! Keep it up! If you aren’t (but know you should), you may not have realized all the wonderful things that come along with achieving your financial goals… hopefully, this will help motivate you to get started! As always, if you want help please contact Daniel for a complimentary consultation – you have nothing to lose!
*Fun fact: I came up with the name Dr. Budgets… It’s a play on Daniel’s initials “DR”