4 Things We Learned From Paying Off Our Debt (and what we want to do next!)
Some of you who are friends with either of us on Facebook know that we have put our house on the market. What many of you may NOT know, however, is why. After months of prep work, Mark and I are finally ready to take the next step in our quest for hippydom: selling our house so we can buy acreage.
I think Mark always dreamed of having some piece of the country to claim as his own. I, on the other hand, have never been too picky and tend to go where the winds take me. In the past four years, they have taken us to a 3 bed, 3 bath “starter home” in the middle of your typical mid-century subdivision dotted with little ranches and tri-levels.
When we bought the house four years ago, we were greeted with a slew of phrases like, “Welcome to homeownership!” “Welcome to the next phase!” and my personal favorite, “WELCOME TO ADULTHOOD!”
Because this is the logical progression of life in America, right? Go to school. Finish high school and get a diploma. Go to college and get a diploma. Get your first apartment so you can fully experience using milk crates for chairs while eating your ramen noodles. Get a better paying job. Get married. Get your first house. Have kids. Get a bigger, better house. Ad infinitum…
The part of this typically American progression that is largely unsaid is that you must go into debt in order to do it. Take student loans for college! It’s okay, because the awesome job you get when you graduate will just pay that all off, right?! How about that big mortgage for a house? Remember, mortgage is from the French for “death pledge” for a reason: you’ll be paying on it practically until you die.
We are ready to do it differently.
Now, if you have found contentment and freedom in pursuing some form of the above progression, good for you! As long as you are happy, fulfilled, and feel like you’re living with purpose, there is nothing wrong with it, and I certainly can’t judge because we’ve been living it this whole time. After all, there are many ways to live a life and you have to find the path that best suits you. What we have found over time is that this version of life is simply not for us.
You see, we learned a few things over the past four years as Mark and I renovated the house and paid off all of our debt (minus the mortgage).
THE FOUR THINGS WE LEARNED PAYING OFF DEBT
1. With the right know-how, determination, and cooperation, we can accomplish anything.
2. We hate having debt.
3. We hate having a ton of STUFF in our house.
4. We want to live freely and give freely.
Paying off our student loans, credit cards, and other debts has been one of the most freeing things we’ve ever done. I have absolutely NO desire to ever go back to that model of living, because when your money doesn’t have to work for other people, you can make it work for YOU. If you’re reading this and you’ve ever gone through the massive undertaking of paying off your debts, you know what this feels like. When you have debt, you don’t simply owe your money – you owe your time, energy, and sometimes your joy. It isn’t worth that!
So how are we planning to do it differently? It can be boiled down (VERY SIMPLY) to the following:
1. Sell the house.
2. Use the money from the house sale to purchase some acreage.
3. Build a sustainable, efficient, well-designed house paying cash as we go, doing as much of our own labor as possible.
That last part may have some of you scratching your heads. Why? Simply put, that’s just not how we as a society do it anymore. It isn’t impossible though, and we are totally aware of the level of work ahead of us. Fortunately, our lifestyle and professions are accommodating to this work, and we have spent a very long time consulting some highly knowledgable people in preparation for this process.
I hope it doesn’t sound whimsical. There will come a moment when we are hip deep in mortar that we will realize how much we have bitten off, but I know this because we have been in that place before. It is a huge risk, and isn’t something we have taken lightly. It IS, however, something we have taken with a great deal of care and planning in the hopes of, as Dave Ramsey would put it, “changing our family tree”.
If you’re reading this and you HAVEN’T gotten to pay off your debts but would really like to end the cycle, I highly recommend the Dave Ramsey baby steps. Some people are turned off by him sometimes, but I honestly have to say that listening to him explain the process when my mom let me borrow her Financial Peace CDs was fantastic. If you’ve been TRYING to pay off your debts but keep getting knocked out, keep fighting the good fight. I know that struggle personally for a few of our readers here and don’t want to make it seem like it’s easier than it is. It’s brutal, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Keep your head up!
I’m hoping to detail the home building/homesteading process as it gets going, but we really need THIS house to sell first. It really has been a great little house and I will probably cry when we hand the keys over, but we need to take this next step now.
For more information about our home plans, sustainable building, homebuilding, frugal family finances, and more, keep visiting for updates! We appreciate each and every one of you! Tell your friends!