6 False Assumptions About Debt-Free Living
Professional counselors are taught that there are occasions when you must help a client decrease expectations. At times it becomes clear that those struggling with an addiction are so passionate and focused on overcoming the addiction that the new reality (life without addition) is sure to disappoint. The counselor must help decrease expectations so the person will not relapse when reality does not match their expectation.
Likewise, many people have exerted so much energy and time to paying off debt, that once they become debt free, they no longer have a clear sense of financial purpose or focus. They are left confused wondering, what should I do now? With so many people preaching the benefits of debt-free living and so many positive testimonials from those who are debt free, it is easy to let your expectations about debt-free living grow to an unrealistic point. If your debt-free expectations are too high, you will be disappointed. Here are six false assumptions about debt free living.
1. I’ll never have to say “no.”
Just because you have more disposable income does not mean you now have unlimited income. I’ve never met a person who couldn’t want more stuff than what they have available for spending. I always laugh (to myself, of course) when someone says, “If I had as much money as him, I’d buy a (fill in the blank)”. The reality is, you would never have that money because you would SPEND it.
Once you are debt free you will need to look ahead to other important components in your financial plan. In order to continue to grow financially fit you will still need to sacrifice, but perhaps not to the same level.
2. I’ll never have to make stressful financial decisions.
This, my dear friends, is the biggest myth of all. You will, in fact, now have more financial decisions. Before, you got to be a one trick pony — get out of debt. Anytime you got a dollar you knew what to do with it. Now, you need to decide between so many good options like increasing your giving, saving for retirement, and saving for kids’ schooling. You’ll still need to stay within the recommended budget spending categories.
When you are debt free you’ll have to make more financial decisions than when you were in debt.
3. I’ll automatically start sleeping better at night.
If you worry about money while in debt, you’ll probably keep thinking about money after debt. You’ll be concerned when the market drops, and you lose half your investments. You’ll wonder if you have the best asset allocation. When you look for great buying opportunities, you’ll wonder if this really is the best time to buy or if you should wait.
Debt-free living does not automatically remove stress from your life.
4. I’ll never have another money fight.
Last time I checked, even rich people get divorced — with the exception of those in Hollywood, of course :).
Money fights do not happen because of debt. They happen because you have different spending priorities, and you have trouble communicating those priorities. This will continue whether you are debt free or not.
Now, one thing that is true is that there will not be so much pressure on every financial decision. It is no longer like you are walking a tightrope, and one false step will cause you to go falling towards your financial death. While the pressure is removed, however, the disagreements and fundamental issues will remain.
5. I’ll never have to keep a budget again.
People falsely assume that a budget is their punishment for being in debt. However, the truth is that once you become debt free you will need to continue to follow a budget. You can adopt a simpler budget, but you still need a budget. Budgeting is not only the single most important tool to helping you become debt free; it is also the single most important tool to helping you remain debt free.
6. I’ll be able to give to any cause I believe in.
Many people struggle with the question of giving while in debt. They assume that if they did not have debt, giving would happen naturally. Typically, if you can find a reason not to give while in debt, you’ll be able to find a reason not to give when you are debt free. You’re still the same person with or without the debt.
When you are debt free, there will still be charities you wish you could give more to, but you’ll feel limited by your budget.
Am I suggesting you remain in debt?
No way. Life with debt is yucky. Debt-free living is amazing. There will, however, still be financial issues, decisions, and pressures when you are debt free. The more prepared you are for those issues, the better debt free living will be.
What things about debt-free living surprised you? What other false assumptions do people have about debt-free living?