Living Our Dream: Financial Freedom
What could you do if you didn't have a mortgage? Living mortgage free was always a
part of our long term plan. This was even before we decided to completely change our lifestyle. With this in mind, it took a lot of financial discipline and some sacrifice to be in a place that we could move quickly once we decided we were ready to downsize & become a full-time family. If financial freedom is something you are dreaming about, it is possible you just have to make it a priority. No we did not win the lottery or get an inheritance. We planned, sacrificed & made a few good decisions along the way. Here is our story from the financial perspective.
We are fortunate to have been free from credit card debt for a long time. Don't get me wrong we are not perfect and both Brant and I have had credit card debt in our past. To eliminate this debt we made it a priority to pay it off. We consolidated to a 0% interest card committed a certain amount of money to those debts each month. The amount was well above the minimum due so we had hope of paying it off in our lifetime. It is imperative to treat this like another bill that must be paid at the amount you commit to, otherwise you will never dig out. We did the same thing with a small(ish) student loan. This does require some sacrifice and developing a budget that you are willing to follow. This may mean giving up a few dinners out every month or limiting the amount of drinks you have at happy hour. Maybe even, dare I say, discontinue daily trips to Starbucks! Don't worry you can still treat yourself to these things on occasion, everything in moderation.
Once our credit cards were paid off we began using them as if they were a check book. I mean going old school, tracking every purchase like you would for checks out of a bank
account. This allowed us to get points/rewards from purchases while paying them off every month IN FULL to eliminate growing debt. We prefer cash back rewards which we can use to fund trips, splurge on a fancy dinner out or even help with monthly cost if the need arises. Now the credit card company is paying us, not the other way around! Using your credit card in this manner gives you the added bonus of increasing your credit score as well! I am the budget geek and literally have an excel sheet that I track our purchases, monthly bills, savings and make sure we stay on track from month to month. This could be difficult if this is not something you enjoy (I literally enjoy this part, I know, I am a nerd). It doesn't have to take a lot of time as long as you check it enough to stay up to date on your purchases. When you notice you are spending more than your monthly income challenge yourself to a spending freeze (other than groceries). This can help you get back on track before it gets out of control. Once you have paid off a credit card, start putting that amount towards another debt or better yet half to another debt and the other half to savings. Whatever you do keep using your credit card like a bank account not a loan!
We have been fortunate in our real estate purchases & sales. This was a huge boost to becoming debt free! We do not have any investment properties, so you don't have to be a real estate mogul to have success in real estate. I purchased a condo shortly after the
real estate crash in 2009 and as you can imagine got a great deal. Brant and I started dating shortly after, got married and sold the condo a few years later at a profit which allowed us to buy what we thought would be our forever home. At that time we were living the stereotypical American dream, with a big house, pool and lots of stuff. As we started wanting something more out of life and became more serious about living this crazy dream of being a full-time family we noticed housing prices were on the rise in our neighborhood. We knew we had to take advantage and were fortunate to have another profitable closing. This expedited our plan by a year! Being able to jump on opportunity and not let our emotions for a home we loved get in the way made this possible.
Prior to putting our home on the market we had already determined we could live on just my part-time income if we were mortgage free and paid off our car loan. Once our house sold it was time for Brant to retire from the fire service. This was a bit scary but completely worth having him home more and not putting his health and life on the line every shift. To be clear, while he will get a small pension for his years in service, we are not benefiting from that retirement now. Once we closed we could determine what our budget was for our new downsized home taking into consideration paying off our car and
moving expenses. We had already researched areas we wanted to move to that offered low cost of living. Having a view and being a location we could travel easily from were also important to us. We began our search and were not willing to settle. We could not be happier with the sacrifices we have made. Living as a full-time family has it's challenges, like anything. The reward far out weighs the sacrifices we have made and continue to make. Living with less stuff in a smaller space doesn't even feel like a sacrifice any more. Really it is a positive, less cleaning and organizing....more time living life!
If you are interested in finding out more about how to budget and pay off debt email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to my part-time job which I truly enjoy we are also expanding our income by following our passions. Click here to see our nature photography!
To read about the ups and downs of selling our house & downsized house hunt see our other blog posts:
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