31 Days of Finding Freedom in Simplicity - Financial Freedom

Finances.  We don’t talk a lot about finances here at Townsend House, but since this series is 31 Days of Finding Freedom in Simplicity – you had to have known that it would be addressed at some point.  Financial Freedom is almost an unknown concept in our western world today.

There has not been a moment in my adult life that I have been completely debt free.  That may be very similar to you as well.  When I went off to college, one of the first things I did was visit the financial aid office to sign for all of my student loans.  I thought I was being responsible.  Student loan debt is good debt after all.  I am getting an education. 

Now, I am not saying don’t get student loans, but isn’t it interesting to think about an 18 year old, who has no source of income, going to a great college and signing for thousands of dollars of student loans.  Honestly, I didn’t think about it when I was 18, or even 25.  I didn’t really consider student loans and the weight they were until after I had my first child and decided I was no longer going to be working outside the home.  I also didn’t consider that my husband would also have student loans. 

So, here we are, in our mid-30’s, never having been debt free in our lives.

What would it feel like to you if you didn’t have debt?  Have you ever considered it?  I’m sure a lot of you have not.  It seems like debt is the thing that keeps our lives running.  Heck, even the government loves debt.  I’m not sure when it became acceptable to go into debt for every single purchase, but after being in debt for a long time, and finally getting sick of being in debt, my family wanted a change.

We were somewhat drastic in our changes, and they were not without struggles, but, seeing that we are now almost on the other side (ie no consumer debt, but still a mortgage), it is a breath of fresh air.

I would love to do a little exercise with you.  If you would take a moment to add up all of your debt payments each month (not bills like utilities and insurance), but actual debt payments; student loans, car loans, credit cards – and now total them up.  When you write down that total, does it make you cringe a little?  We aren’t even considering our mortgage in this scenario, but just the payments you make on debt each month.  What if you had that as extra money in your budget each month?  How would you feel?

Now, if you are reading this and saying “I don’t have any debt, I’m good!” or “I am comfortable with the amount of debt I have.” You probably can disregard the rest of this post.

However, if you looked at the amount that you are paying on debt, and realized that you could save that money, or use it to go on vacation, or invest it for retirement, how would that make you feel?

I think we all eventually get to a point where we are overwhelmed and stressed about money.  There never seems to be enough of it, we always *need* something else, our kids need new shoes, or new clothes, or we need a new couch since the puppy is eating ours.  If you already have debt, it becomes difficult to save the money you need in order to purchase these items, and oftentimes you will instead buy the kids’ clothes on a credit card, or take out the 90 day same as cash loan for your new couch.

A huge part of simplicity for every family, no matter what your values and goals are is financial freedom.  When you have debt, you will always have a weight on top of you.

Now some of you might be in a position where you don’t feel like you have any breathing room to get out of debt.  Believe me, I know how that is, we have been there, and it totally sucks.  But, if you are diligent, and meticulous, about paying off your debt, and budgeting, you will feel that weight start to lessen.  I can’t tell you how amazing that feels.

I know that money is a sensitive topic.  Everyone has different ideas about what is enough, what isn’t enough, what one should be able to afford, and on and on and on.  But, I also know that having financial freedom is a huge step in the right direction when it comes to simplicity.

Why?  Very simply, it allows you to follow your dreams.  Perhaps the reason you feel like you can’t take steps in a certain life direction is because you have too much debt.  You can’t quit your job because you are barely making ends meet.  You can’t start that business because you don’t have any extra room in your budget to use for your new venture.  You want to travel, but you have too much debt and know that you can’t take more than a few days off here and there and even when you have those days off, travel costs money.

Financial freedom is a journey in and of itself, but I think that once you are able to sit down and dream about what life would be like without debt, it will light a fire, and you will want to move ahead with such intensity.

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