We've officially been out of debt for four months now. And even know I have to remind myself WHY we want to stay out of debt. Most forms of debt no longer tempt me. But two temptations always seem to be lurking just beneath the surface of my tough "no debt" exterior: a newer car and a nicer house.
We drive two aging beauties...10 year old cars with just over 100,000 miles each. Low mileage for the age of the cars. And they (knock on wood) haven't given us much trouble except that we seem to be pretty hard on the brakes. They serve us well for the one true purpose they serve: transportation. Safe. Reliable. But I'd be lying if I said I never felt the siren call of a nicer, newer, shinier form of transportation. I can't even really let myself look at car lots because I'm prone to new car fever. So I have to remind myself WHY we are going to save for a car rather than borrow for one.
Same-ish situation with our house. It is the perfect perfect for us. We actually do carry a mortgage, but it is well below what we "should" be paying in relation to our income. Yet one of my favorite weekend pasttimes is to drive past houses that are for sale and dream about moving up in house. A more aesthetic neighborhood. A second bathroom. A sunroom. Well, the list is long. But it is all just stuff. Not needs. Wants. And to move up in want, we'd be taking on a bigger mortgage, which would decrease the amount of money we have to help stay out of other debt.
So I have to remind myself WHY. WHY I'm going to keep driving my van until we can afford a newer one with cash. WHY we're going to stay in this house until God moves us.
And I thought I'd share the reasons. You may have similar reasons for wanting to become (or stay) debt free. But you also should have your own.
1. We truly believe Proverbs 22:7: "The borrower is slave to the lender." We don't want to be in bondage any longer.
2. Living debt-free helps us focus on being content. It helps us to see that material possessions are fleeting. We aren't consumed with trying to accumulate when we are trying to stay within a budge and pay cash. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21
3. Living debt free has made our marriage stronger. We disagree about a lot of things: politics, Santa Claus, how clean the bathroom should be, etc. But the one thing we always agree on is our goal of living debt free. It guides our budget. It guides each purchase even when the other spouse isn't there. It has saved us a lot of fighting, and I truly feel it has made us closer. Not perfect. Definitely not perfect.
4. It allows us to give more freely. Even when we were in debt we felt strongly that we were to continue to be givers to help keep our treasure in the right place. Now without debt it frees us up even more to be able to give as there is opportunity.
5. It allows us to save for the future. We have no idea what the future holds. We can guess and plan and may still face a situation we haven't saved for...or saved enough. But the more we can anticipate and plan, the more we are able to have money for car repairs, medical bills, and kid expenses. (Hint: start saving now for the back to school expenses. You know they're coming, don't wait until August and then wonder how you are going to pay for it. Save now. Same with Christmas. And my birthday. It falls in August as well).
6. It allows us to spend some money to make memories. That's one of our favorite guiding principles on the spending side of our budget. We really don't want to accumulate "stuff" so much as we want to have the opportunity to make memories through special trips. Some are very inexpensive like a camping weekend at the grandparents' land. Others in the future may cost more, but we never want the memory to become a nightmare of debt.
Ah, that helps me. My list. My WHY list for why I want to stay out of debt. WHY I need to turn my head the other way when I see a schnazzy silver, rust free mini van that probably has rear air and a DVD player. Or a house with a sun room.