Last week I sat down with some dear friends and toasted to paying off our tiny house… COMPLETELY! Knowing that I would never hand over another mortgage payment was liberating, to say the least.
Like many people, J and I racked up student loan debt when we achieved our educational milestones of earning graduate degrees. Neither of us would trade our education because it is extremely valuable and has helped us to attain our careers, but both of us have felt the pressure of owing large monthly sums in order to slowly chip away at the debt that comes with our credentials.
About three years into our marriage we bought our first home and acquired a mortgage. It was, to us, better than paying someone else’s mortgage through rent but it did add to the overall mound of debt we held. The story continued (you’ve heard it before) when we had to purchase a new car and then a van to accommodate our growing family.
Our costs were all justifiable and necessary. We used fair judgement and made it a point to not make lavish purchases. Our vehicles were pre-owned, our houses remained within monthly budget constraints; we didn’t use credit cards and still we felt stuck.
Last year we took a trip to Iceland and a slow trickle of re-prioritization began in our minds, whether we acknowledged it at that time or not. That trip opened our eyes to how little of the world we had experienced. How we were living to work versus working to live. How our existing debt limited us to what experiences we could have.
After coming home from Iceland, I felt the urge to work even harder so I could EARN another trip like that. My anxiety levels rose, my physical health declined, my time with my family lessened and I was blatantly ignoring unhealthy behaviors surrounding me. All of this was to obtain the next experience.
I always tell people that my position being eliminated in February was really the best thing that happened to me and I honestly believe that. It’s allowed me space to pause, breathe and realign myself to who I truly am versus who I was becoming. And in the midst of rediscovering myself, Jordan and I constructed our Plan to Freedom that I want to share with you.
So, here we are! Home owners in the truest sense of the term and enjoying life and each other. I know many people I’ve met along this journey have similar stories to the one I’ve just shared and there is community forged through those common goals. To anyone reading this, I encourage you to gain some space to breathe and reflect on what you want out of this one precious life. And if what you discover doesn’t align with who you are then find a way to change it. It’s not impossible… sometimes unconventional, but not impossible.