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Why Do You Really Want to Get Out of Debt?

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Doesn’t this seem like an easy question to answer? Don’t we all want to be debt free? Seriously, don’t we? The funny thing is when I ask some people this question, they seem to give me a canned answer. “I don’t like debt and I want to pay it off!” While this could pass as an acceptable answer, I have heard it too many times to believe it.

Most people probably don’t like debt, but there are many of us who had no issues going into it. I, for one, enjoyed spending that money I didn’t have for things I couldn’t afford. Do you remember my Jetski story? Well, that fun little toy cost me way too much money and was one of my worst money mistakes.

Though I was tired of paying my hard earned money to all of the credit card companies, I didn’t have much of a reason to get out of debt. That all changed when my wife and I wanted to have a child.

Having kids is extremely expensive. No matter if you save money on clothes or food, kids are expensive. While I was tired of paying so much each month on my credit cards, my get out of debt a** kicking came when I thought about how much harder it would be with a baby in the picture.

Why I Wanted to Get Out of Debt

 

My main reason to get out of debt was to protect my growing family. When it was just my wife and I, we could handle the minimum monthly payments. They weren’t fun, but we weren’t struggling too bad to pay them. Actually, I wasn’t struggling. I didn’t involve my wife much considering it was my doing when racking up the debt. Either way, my priorities changed when we talked about having a baby.

How was I going to pay for the things we needed?

How was I going to provide for my family?

These questions scared me a bit. I didn’t have an answer. Luckily for me, that answer came in the form of aggressive debt repayment. After I calculated how fast I could pay off my debt and save at the same time, I was on my way. It took me four years to pay off all of my credit card debt, but I also saved a good amount of money. It was the perfect outcome to my story.

During my journey, I realized there were so many things I could do to grow my wealth. With more money actually going into my pockets, I could start investing. I could save more for retirement, and I could save money for our child’s education. These things were important to me, but also very exciting. Paying off my debt gave me many possibilities, which I wanted to explore.

What Is Your Reason for Paying Off Debt?

 

Seriously, think about it. Don’t let the typical “I don’t like debt” be the answer. That is a weak response. What is your true motivation for paying off debt? A better question might be: what is your plan once you have paid off your debt? Goals and planning are big parts of personal finance. There is no mystery to that. What do you want to do with your money? What do you want your money to do for you?

Is financial freedom your answer? Why? What are your plans when you become financially free? Saving for retirement? Traveling? Being comfortable?

I ask this question because there are too many who just use the vague canned answer. I feel these people might fall right back into the debt trap if they don’t have a plan for their money when their debt is gone. I know I have been tempted a few times, but I get back on track once I look at my goals and that keeps my spending desires in check.

 

What is your true reason for being debt free? What will make all the self-sacrifice and passing up on toys and YOLO experiences worth it? Give it to me straight!

 

Photo courtesy of: StockMonkeys.com

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Grayson is the owner of Debt Roundup and Empowered Shopper. He also co-owns Sprout Wealth and Eyes on the Dollar. After going to battle and winning against consumer debt, he decided it was time to learn how to use credit wisely and grow his wealth. He discusses all things personal finance and is not afraid of being controversial. He also is a freelance writer and blog manager.

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40 Comments

  • Kirsten says:

    I got nooooo problems figuring out an unmanned response – I want out of debt so I can stay home with my kiddos!

    Eventually, I’d love to be financially independent, but first things first – my kids.

  • Elisabeth says:

    I agree 100% that having a reason greater than “I just don’t want it any more” is so helpful to focus on when paying off debt. For us, our children are a huge factor for us.

  • We chose to become debt-free because I no longer wanted it all hanging over my head. I also hate monthly payments =)

  • It’s funny how the question seems basic, and yet, if you don’t have an answer, then you don’t have focus for the process of getting out of debt. When you don’t have an answer, it’s easy to make excuses and get sidetracked from achieving your goals. The answer gives you purpose and makes the other finance decisions easy.

  • My husband and I have thought about this too. Although we would love not to have to work, we still would work. We would love to spend lots of money, but our innate frugality just can’t do it. So for us, our main reasons are so that we can eventually give more, serve more, and in the process of being debt-free, be more content.

  • I don’t necessarily feel a burning desire to have a zero in the debt column of my personal balance sheet, but I do want my net worth to show that I’m independently wealthy so that I only have to work because I want to work, not because I have to work.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      I hear you there DC! While I would love to have the zero, I am not focusing on that. My focus is on wealth creation. Since I only have a mortgage and one small car loan, I am not bothered by them.

  • Miriam says:

    I’m 65 and on a pension. I have capital that I am investing in creating a rental apartment in my house to provide additional income for me. I also have debt. My daughter lives with me now and we have figured out a budget that leaves us with $1500 a month extra (if we stick to the budget) and I’m using this to pay down the debt. Once my capital is gone I want to be able to live comfortably on my pensions. I’ve had times in my life when my outflows exceeded my inflow by necessity (raising 3 kids on my own, for e.g.); I don’t want to spend my elder years worrying about money.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      I can’t fault your reasoning there Miriam. Not wanting to have to worry about money is a great reason to be debt free. It also allows you to enjoy your time focusing on things you enjoy!

  • I hate the idea of owing someone something, and all the money I was losing because of interest, but now it’s about having that extra money for travel and retirement.

  • Great post, Grayson. It’s SO important to know the why behind your debt free journey. It’s that “why” that will give you the motivation to keep going when debt fatigue or setbacks kick in.

  • I want to be debt free to have a little less stress in my life and provide better for my family. Even more important is to teach our 3 children better ways so at they start their financial lives they don’t repeat our mistakes.

  • Being at the financial brink more than once is enough reason for me to want to give up debt. When you are staring at having no place to live and no food to eat, all you want out of life is a safety fund. But the debt has to be paid before that can happen.

  • We were very comfortable in debt for years. I even stopped working my part-time job to be a stay-at-home mom when we were still in debt. Then my husband lost his job. I was back at work – full-time – and it took six years for my husband to get established in a new career. Not only were we sinking, we plunged way deeper into debt when he took out a business loan. Ugh! No freedom, constant stress, no work-family balance, and the realization that retirement was going to happen within 10 years made us LONG for freedom from debt. Although we’re not yet half way there, we feel such a relief from stress because we’re on the right track! And once we’re debt-free, we will definitely enjoy the choices we’ll be able to make to pursue interests, kick back, travel, get involved in worthy causes . . . As we get closer, our vision gets clearer. And it’s great!

  • Kipp says:

    To be honest, I never really liked debt. It really limits your freedom because you must make enough money to pay them back. Being debt free in my mind will give me several advantages. I can save faster to reach financial independence. I will have much less monthly outflow allowing me to need less money to be financially independent. It minimizes financial risks, if my wife and I were to both lose our jobs we could make enough to survive with minimum wage assuming no savings. Granted it is actually difficult to have a minimum wage full-time job, let alone two, but it just gives us a great amount of flexibility as to the amount of income that would be necessary for our life style. I think those are my biggest reasons to work towards debt freedom and am really excited that the day will come when we no longer have loans. It just makes life easier when you don’t have huge obligations staring at you reminding you that you have limited choices.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      I don’t mind specific types of debt, depending on what you are using it for. I have found there are ways to use debt to increase your net worth, but you have to be careful. You are right though, having debt requires you make at least enough money to pay it back.

  • I’m just tired of giving other people my money and making them rich. Also, I want to reach financial independence waaay before I’m 65 years old, and paying interest is just going to slow that process down.

  • Having a kid is my #1 reason. My parents did a lot if do as I say not as I do, not necessarily about debt, but with lots of other things. If you don’t want your kid to smoke, eat crap, or be in debt, fill in the blank, you need to set a good example. Also seeing my in-laws in their mid sixties with nothing to show for a lifetime of work is very motivating to stay out if debt and build wealth!

  • Love this, Grayson! I hear that reason too and it is a canned response. People who are truly ready and committed to doing the work to get out of debt typically have a very personal reason for doing so, just as you did. Even though I’m the financial advisor, I have to credit my husband for debt-free lifestyle. He made me promise when we got married that we would buy everything in cash, except for our home, or we wouldn’t buy it. I have kept that promise for 24 years. It isn’t always easy as saving for the things we want can take years, but being debt-free is worth it.

  • Kassandra says:

    My driving reason was that I hated how debt made me feel, the stress it caused me and I badly wanted to be in a position to have more options. My reasons for staying debt free are pretty much the same!

  • Jason B says:

    I want to pay off my debt because I want to travel more. After I completed my cross country trip last year I realized that there is so much to see in the world. I also want to be the 1st person in my family to create generational wealth.

  • Amy says:

    My daughter. She thinks the world of me (and my husband), and I don’t want to let her down.

  • Richard says:

    I see too many people that spend their entire lives in a constant cycle of earn then spend, earn then spend, never getting ahead – and often getting behind. I don’t want that. There are so many things I want to do – from travelling to studying for another degree – that I want to break the cycle and get ahead of myself to give me the option. I see getting (and staying) out of debt as the first major hurdle to that goal.

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