The Only Thing I Want Now is to Become Debt Free. What’s It Like? – Ray


“Dear Steve,

I just stumbled upon your site and I LOVE IT!! Great job on the site, you’re one of the few angels we have on Earth. Anyways, enough about you.. here’s my situation: I accumulated a little less than $100,000 of debt. 3 student loans and 1 car loan. I paid off ALL my credit cards and other various high interest loans.

I have the career of my dreams and I make a decent wage. I’m about to get myself a new apartment which with utilities will take a little more than half of my monthly income. Once you include the minimum monthly payments of all my loans and perhaps the cost of food and the essentials of life, I am barely squeezing by.

I can tell you, I feel blessed to have graduated college, to have a new car, and to own pretty much everything I ever wanted. The only thing I want now is to become debt free. Should I sacrifice anything to achieve a dream that so many fail to achieve? Or should I continue my life as it is, and wait till my girlfriend moves in with me so she can help pay half of the rent and utilities and I can finally start putting all my extra money towards paying off my debt?

What is it like to be debt free?


Dear Ray,

Let me give you my personal honest answer to your question. I’ve been in that debt free spot. I’ve had no mortgage, no loans and owed nobody and had no credit payments. And while it a worthy goal what I learned is that, even at that moment, I still owed a lot of people. I owed taxes to the IRS and property tax to the state, I owed income tax to my state and I owed the utility company for electricity, I owed the insurance company for health insurance and I owed the grocery store for the food we would need to buy, etc. You get the point.

See also  Should I Be Debt Free? - Robert

The reality is that as long as we are alive we will never ever be totally out of debt or out from an obligation to someone else.

Since that time when I did not owe any creditor I have actually take out a mortgage and used part of the money to install solar panels on my house. After much contemplation I decided that if I had a choice of who to owe, I’d rather owe a fixed rate mortgage on my house than risk escalating utility costs. I managed to slice my monthly electric bill from $330 to $50.

Ultimately I think that it is not the fact that you are out of debt that is the end game but that you live your life in such a way that it brings you peace, joy, and happiness. Here is an example, maybe like me you love to ride motorcycles. Is your life richer for having no debt or for having a motorcycle, if you had to get a loan you could afford, that you and your wife can ride around the country and go exploring, something the two of you find fun?

Now I’ve admitted that I have some debt, and I’m comfortable with my level of debt. I just don’t want to take on so much debt where I can’t live the life I want. Right now I don’t have to work for anyone else but myself. If I loaded myself up on debt to the point where I would have to alter my life and go work for someone else, that would piss me off. That’s when debt for me would become a problem.

For you, you’ll have to find your own balance between obligations and life. Just know that the right answer for each of us lies not at either extreme but at some point along that continuum.

Live your life, control your debt.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

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P.S. Be sure to read ‘The Secret of Surviving Through Difficult Economic Times. What I Learned On My Journey‘.

See also  Should I Be Debt Free? - Robert

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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8 thoughts on “The Only Thing I Want Now is to Become Debt Free. What’s It Like? – Ray”

  1. why the f*** does a get out of debt site allow advertising of ‘get a loan’.
    you must be a f***ing phoney parasite like all the rest you wank**!

    • I think the advert you are referring to is from LendingClub.com or Prosper.com, both peer-to-peer lending networks that are the last legtimate unsecured debt consolidation lenders out there.

      By your comment are you saying that a debt consolidation loan can’t be an appropriate solution for the right person?

  2. Thanks so much Steve for the response and thanks to everyone else for your comments!

    I’ve read countless articles and books on the subject of becoming debt free. I’ve taken some important steps in achieving the long term goal of becoming debt free and maximizing my happiness throughout my life.

    If you’re not happy, is life worth living?

    You may already know some of the things I’ve done to become debt free:
    – Paid off all my credit cards and high interest loans.
    – I have an Emergency fund of several thousand dollars and growing.
    – I have a balanced budget and I try to be very careful on what I purchase and if it’s a want or a need.
    – I increase my monthly income by having side hobbies that make me a profit, selling stuff on eBay, getting a raise at work, etc.
    – I decreased my monthly expenses by eliminating things I do not need and being more careful on what I “waste” my money on.

    Although the apartment and utilities costs me a lot at the very start, I will be very happy. As time goes on, whether my girlfriend moves in with me or if I get a promotion or a raise at work, the rent and utilities will not effect me as much in the long run.

    The student loans and car loans will be repaid eventually, and early next year I’ll be able to put extra money towards the highest interest loans first and pay them off as soon as possible.

    Happiness is the key to life. I will eventually become debt free, one baby step at a time.

    Thank you all!

  3. While we obviously don’t know all the details, I agree that the amount allocated for rent/utilities is high. Without a sizable amount of savings to cover unexpected expenses (auto, medical, or family emergencies) the cycle of debt might start all over again with a single hiccup in plans.

    Also, I’d think about what the financial situation would be if one party in the relationship could no longer produce an income. Finishing school and getting a well paying job is a great accomplishment (pat on the back from afar for your accomplishments). However, as tempting as it may be it is not a green light to start spending more than you have to.
    .-= Ashley´s last blog ..The Reality of the Joneses =-.

  4. Wow, 50% of your income to rent?! That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Squeezing by is going to suck long after the short term thrill of being in a nice new apartment. The greatest cause of unhappiness in this world is trading what we want most for what we want now.
    .-= Dustin @ Inzolo´s last blog ..Allocate by Percentage =-.

  5. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that 2 can live cheaper than one. Once you bring another person into it you lose some control over the expenses. I’m not saying don’t have your girlfriend move in. Just know that when you do , things can get pretty screwed up.
    When I got remarried I thought the same as you. I thought I would have someone help me with the bills and I could get my debts down. It’s certainly not the reason I got remarried, but it made it easier to do that.
    Well , a short time after we got remarried my step son quit college and moved in for 5 1/2 years. Plus my wife decided to try a career change and ran up a bunch of debt.
    Because of that she quit helping me with the bills.
    On top of that, once my step son moved in, my house was too small for all of us and I ended up selling it for a bigger house. I had to buy a handy man special to get something big enough that I could afford. It needed alot of expensive repairs that I couldn’t afford.
    To sum it up, 6 years later I have $25000 of credit card debt I didn’t have before, I’m saddled with a house that still needs alot of work , and my overhead is alot more than it used to be.
    So beware, life don’t always go as you plan. If she moves in don’t count on her to bail you out.

  6. Check out this site. Frugaldad had this great idea to create two budgets, one with your debt and one without – to see what you could do with the extra money. The blog also sparked a discussion about the fact that being debt-free (despite the freedom and flexibility it brings) does not change one’s lifestyle since we (most of us) plow the money right into savings and investments, so we still feel poor. (Well, not quite, but there is always a restraint on spending.) However, the only way I ever want to live is debt free even though other people may feel comfortable with some leverage.


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