I saw this post on Wise Bread this morning, and I could totally relate. From the post:
“Many people have exerted so much energy and time to paying off debt, that once they become debt free, they no longer have a clear sense of financial purpose or focus.”
Yeah! You’re giving all you have to getting out of debt. You hear about how great it will be for your financial future to eliminate your payments. You start to think about all the things you can do with your money. So you commit to paying off all your debt and you follow through.
But then what? The Wise Bread post outlines six false assumptions. Here’s my commentary:
1. I’ll never have to say “no.”
Sorry. “No” to taking on new debt, and anything else you haven’t saved for.
2. I’ll never have to make stressful financial decisions.
Figuring out how much to save for retirement is stressful. So is buying a house. There are smaller-scale items that are stressful. Still, I can guarantee that it’s less stressful once you’re out of debt.
3. I’ll automatically start sleeping better at night.
Maybe, if you were losing sleep over being in debt. But if stress has a history of keeping you up at night, losing sleep over being in debt might be replaced by something else. It might be better to address a sleep/stress issue head-on.
4. I’ll never have another money fight.
I don’t like fighting, so let’s play fair and call this one a “disagreement.” You may have more disagreements on what to do with your money, now that you’ve freed up so much of it from debt payments. Maybe one person wants to save for a house. Maybe another wants to just take it easy and not pay attention to the budget for awhile. The most important thing is to understand and respect your spouse’s views.
5. I’ll never have to keep a budget again.
Having some sort of budget — even a relatively unstructured one — is better than none at all, I think. You’ve gotta continue budgeting so that you can meet your family’s needs and not resort to debt again.
6. I’ll be able to give to any cause I believe in.
You can still give even if you’re in debt. You can choose to give financially, donate possessions you no longer need, and volunteer your time. There’s just room to give more once you’re out of debt.
So you’ve seen that I’ve had a harder time being frugal lately. Our next huge goal on the horizon is to buy a house. That’s such a huge amount of money that it’s rather daunting. So our solution is to break our goals into manageable sizes. We’re not putting attention to saving for a house at the moment. Instead, we’re putting our attention toward buying a second vehicle with cash.
We still have plenty of financial things to consider. Freeing up our debt payments has been a great thing for both our short-term and long-term situations. But it doesn’t mean that we can forget our goals.