Reader Perspective Series

Control Your Destiny – Why One Woman Chose to Break Free of the Bondage of Debt

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This is a guest post by Malori Mayor.

Malori

I have never liked debt. I’ve definitely never enjoyed being saddled with six figures of student loans. But when I went to music conservatory in 2005, I kind of ignored the facts about debt. I was pursuing my DREAM! This is what I’d always wanted: to become a professionally-trained classical violinist. I was going to do whatever it took – and since my parents couldn’t fund my education, it was all up to me. So I signed my financial life away, without truly understanding it. (How can a naive 18-year-old really understand what $100,000 means?)

Nine years after I started down this path of debt, I am in a very different place. Three years ago, I read My Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and my mindset completely changed. For the first two years of paying on my student loans (and car loan, and credit card…) I was bopping along in mediocrity. I had a job right out of college, I made my payments on time, and I wasn’t using my credit card in an insane way. Sure, it was going to take me 20 years to pay everything off, but…wasn’t that normal? Pretty much everyone had debt. However, when I realized just how detrimental debt is and how much better my life could be without it, I decided that it was time to kick my debt pay-off into high gear. No more normalcy for me!

Why do we resign ourselves to the mediocre mindset? Perhaps because it’s comfortable, and definitely because it’s easier than buckling down, working extra jobs, and putting our extra money towards debt instead of a new dress that’s not on sale. But just because dragging around debt is “normal” doesn’t mean that’s what is best for us. Think about all the wonderful reasons to get out of debt; think about how our lives could be so much better if we were debt-free! I have listed some of my reasons for getting out of debt as soon as possible:

  • If you pay extra on your loans each month, you save on interest. The less principal there is, the less interest will accrue, and the less you will pay in the long run.
  • By becoming debt-free, you minimize your overall financial risk. If there’s an emergency, you can focus on that emergency (with both your money and your mind) instead of worrying how you’re going to pay for everything – and worse yet, amassing MORE debt.
  • Your money belongs to YOU. Isn’t that a crazy concept, not having your money assigned to somebody else and instead, YOU get to decide where it goes? Think of your options:
    • Saving for a down-payment on a house – or, how cool would it be to buy your home outright?
    • Investing your money to create more savings for retirement.
    • Saving and investing money for cars so that you never have another car payment.
    • Giving to your church or favorite charities. Or, encouraging others who are working toward their debt-free dream by blessing their child with a partial scholarship or helping them out in an emergency.
    • Spending money guilt-free (within budget, of course). You can go on vacation, host dinner parties, attend friends’ and family weddings, start your own business….the options are endless! And at the end of it all, you don’t have a credit card bill haunting your dreams.
  • You have more security in general. If one parent wants to be a stay-at-home mom or dad, that option is more feasible. If you want to add to your family, you can have more confidence in providing for that new child.
  • Peace of mind. By eliminating your debt, you eliminate tasks and bills to track. You also don’t have to worry about those pesky collections agents calling!

However, in my mind, the #1 reason for getting out of debt as quickly as possible is that you are no longer in bondage. You are no longer a slave to Sallie Mae or to the credit card companies. You are confident that your family is well taken care of. YOU control your money and your destiny, and those achievements alone are worth fighting for.

Image Credit: Lauren Finkel

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