12 Surprising Takeaways from our Debt Freedom Journey

By Kim Hall | Finances & Careers

Mar 02

12 surprising takeaways from our debt freedom journeyMy husband and I were Ostriches.

You know the breed: Not exceptionally self-aware, since when they feel threatened they will try to flatten their nine foot tall, 350 pound bodies against the ground in an effort to become invisible.

Assuming that move fails, they can run like the wind from predators at sustained speeds of over 30 mph. Contrary to popular belief, however, they don’t stick their heads in the ground.

When they are doing their I’m invisible! routine, their bodies are so large, that their heads appear to be buried.

Yes, that pretty much described us.

Thankfully, we have undergone a metamorphosis, much like a caterpillar into a butterfly, except we transformed from large, ungainly, birds that hide from financial trouble into gazelles.

With our transformation into intentional spenders, savers and givers very much in our rear view mirror, we were chatting recently about the surprises we encountered along the way.

Here’s our list of 12 surprising takeaways from our debt freedom journey.

1. We didn’t know we were ostriches. It seemed there was plenty of money in the checkbook every week, so how could there be a problem? Besides, budgeting was like taking cod liver oil. Yuck.

2. Budgets can be fun. Yes, fun and satisfying. It’s a lot like coming around to loving exercise because you love the results.

Which Budgeting Software Is Best for Busy Couples?

If you're looking to get started or revamp your budget so you can become debt-free, be sure to check out You Need A Budget.

We LOVE it and it really does make budgeting fun!

3. We are both more nerdy than we ever realized. I really dislike math and never liked balancing my checkbook. But, we are list lovers. Drawing up a budget is creating a different type of list that notes where we choose to have our money go.

4. Our discussions about money got more difficult at first. We were always on the same page financially because we always spent pretty much what we wanted. When we started budgeting, we had to start saying no to some things so we could say yes to others.

5. The process gets you communicating in ways you never have before. See #4. This is truly hard if you are conflict averse, but this communication is critical to the health of your relationship.

6. Your invisible scripts about money and marriage will bubble to the surface. See #4 and #5. Beliefs on earnings, priorities, goals, rewards, etc, that you may not have known you have will create questions that must be answered and agreements that need to be reached.

7. You really do feel more hopeful the further along you go. But first, there’s the abject terror when you experience a big life event, like an accident, job loss, or a pregnancy, and realize your finances are not up to the challenge.

8. You will backslide, especially once you become debt free. We were warned about becoming complacent, and we fell off the wagon anyway. Not in a big way, but enough so our budgeting—if you can even call it that—got sloppy and even non-existent. Once we realized what we’d been doing, we got back on track and started moving forward again.

9. You can change in ways you never thought possible. If you had told me that I would love creating and living within monthly budgets, I would have had you committed. Turns out you would have been right.

10. There is an easy to follow process to get your debt freedom train rolling. Often times, even if you are aware you need to change, you are stumped by not knowing how. We used Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps, as did Dustin, and he details them here on the site.

11. You are role modeling terrific money management behavior for your children. One of the greatest gifts you’ve given yourself you are now able to pass on to your children so they will be wise money managers.

12. You will have so many more opportunities and so much more freedom. When you aren’t bound by debt, you can make choices to move to a job you like better, to be a stay at home mom, or move to a different part of the country, for example. You can also give more generously if that is on your list of desires.

You, too, can make the transformation, just as we and so many thousands of others have done.

Yes, there will be difficulties to iron out, conflicts to settle, conversations to be held, and mountains to climb, and maybe even climb again when you tumble backwards. 

I have no doubt you will experience surprise, delight, frustration, hope, and so much more.

Trust me, though, when I say that it will be well worth it!

Which Budgeting Software Is Best for Busy Couples?

If you're looking to get started or revamp your budget so you can become debt-free, be sure to check out You Need A Budget.

We LOVE it and it really does make budgeting fun!

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