Over the years, I had accumulated a large amount of debt and it always felt like a huge weight was around my neck pulling me down… that is right up until yesterday when I became debt free!!🎉
Prior to this personal milestone, I would pay down debt but build it back up faster than I was making repayments, justifying each purchase, subscription, contract or contribution to whatever initiative, as an investment into a better life. This lasted for 10 years!
I was wrong, the initial amount of happiness that came with each purchase eventually faded away and was overshadowed by the psychological burden of debt that outlasted my so-called investments.
Obviously, what I had done was rebrand my spending behaviour as investing, but there was no financial return from any of it. I tried to convince myself that the emotional return of these purchases was just as valid as a financial one. However, the emotional outcomes soon turned from positive to negative as it became apparent that without any intervention my debt would soon exceed my income. The stress of my financial predicament had a negative impact on my demeanour and my relationships as a father, husband, and friend
Upon that realisation, I started to seriously buckle down and identify the causes of my spending behaviour. It’s not like I didn’t know, I knew the cause and I was ignoring what my better judgment was signalling out loud for me to avoid. So one day I just started to listen to that inner voice and do.
I have long held onto a goal of becoming financially free to be able to spend more time raising my family and to pursue my personal passions, but my behaviour had been suggesting otherwise. So I asked myself “what do I want more? to be financially free or to be appeased temporarily with the accumulation of tech gadgets, clothing, travel, eating out and careless spending?”
I answered this question and began a quest of lining up my behaviour with the goal of becoming financially free and began pruning undesirable quirks.
I resisted the tech calling me as I browsed about department stores during my lunch breaks. This lunchtime activity was soon replaced by running and reading, an actual investment that cost me nothing financially, but added more to me than any consumer purchase ever had.
Tracking my finances regularly became a beneficial habit and as each debt diminished I felt mentally lighter as well as physically due to the adopted changes.
There is evidence that debt is associated with adverse psychological health and going by my personal experience I can vouch for that, my behaviour towards spending and debt affected my relationships with the people I cared for most.
It’s been a long journey and it has taken me a little over 2 years to be debt-free. When I woke up today that weight that had been around my neck and on my mind for 10 years was no longer there. I finally feel like I have arrived at the starting line, I can now begin.
Although I am still a long way off of achieving financial freedom I am most definitely much closer to achieving that goal today than I have ever been.