I have always been a planner and a dreamer. I can remember vividly as a small child dreaming about what I wanted my life to be when I grew up. For the most part those dreams have stayed the same and with every passing year I feel closer to obtaining them.
I think one of the most important things to think about when trying to pay off any amount of debt is what your dreams are afterward. I know it is hard to see now, but there will one day be an afterward. The road to debt freedom and financial independence is not easy. There are many days filled with worry and a fog-like nagging feeling called anxiety that can be oh so hard to shake off. In those moments of uncertainty and apprehensive uneasiness of the mind, I find the most comfort in thinking about the life I want to live after I pay off my debt. What will my future self be doing? Will it be everything I ever dreamed of?
I was recently featured on Dream Beyond Debt to share my debt repayment story as it stands so far, talk about my dreams after becoming debt free and to share what I have learned along the way. So what do my wildest dreams look like?
1. Marry My Best Friend. I told jmr I don’t want to get married or even engaged while I’m paying off my debt for a couple big reasons. The first, I know we will be paying for our wedding all on our own. Often when you think about getting married, you dream up this fairy tale wedding with a bride in a big white dress and the bride’s parents to foot the bill. Unfortunately this will not be my future, and that is okay. I have known for a very long time I will have to pay for my future wedding by myself. I want to be able to pay for our wedding in cash. It’s crazy to think some people start a marriage with enormous amounts of debt, whether from the cost of the wedding or from before. Honestly, I would rather have a small wedding with minimal costs and then with the extra funds we didn’t spend on the actual wedding, pay for a long honeymoon instead. After all, a wedding is about two people, madly in love who want to spend the rest of their lives together. Why not take a long vacation instead just the two of you? Everything else is just background noise (name that movie?). The dress, cake, flowers, decorations, gifts – none of that really matters. The second reason I want to wait to get married is because I don’t feel right bringing debt into our marriage. Luckily, jmr doesn’t have any debt. I don’t feel right having him take on my burden and I want to start our marriage in the best financial shape possible. I do often dream about the day we get married. A wedding ring won’t change anything, I feel like we are basically married already without a piece of paper, but the thought of being his wife, spending every day and night with him for the rest of my life is honestly what my dreams are made of.
2. Owning a Home. Ever since I was a child I’d try to imagine and draw pictures of what my future home will look like. I love to watch HGTV (on Netflix, no cable, saving money remember?) and I spend the night thinking about what my wish list in a home is, what it will be like coming home after a long day of work, a place to have a couple of kids running around in the front yard. Ah, this is the dream of all dreams. When I think about my future home a couple things come to mind. One, I’d love a fixer-upper, something to make my own. I’m so picky about everything and I know I won’t be able to find a move-in ready home that has everything on my wish list. I want to have savings set aside for this, because again this is something I don’t want to go into debt for. Second, I want to have a 20% down payment saved, if not more. I know I won’t be able to buy a house in full, but I want to pay it off as soon as possible by making more than the minimum mortgage payment every month. I am a homebody and tend to be my happiest when I’m curled up on the couch in yoga pants. Above all else, I would just love a place to call mine, to come home to at the end of the day, to have something I don’t have to rely on anyone else for or to follow their “rules.” Owning a home is when I think I will feel like “I made it.” For the time being I can only dream of what I want my future home to be. I see pictures in my head and I can image what it will feel like to have my own place to come home to every night, but as of right now it seems so very far away.
3. Babies. Besides being a wife, I’ve always dreamed of being a mother. Jmr and I both want a big family. I am one of three kids and he is one of four. I have a burning desire in me to one day become a mother. As far as I can remember when anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, one thought and one thought only came to my mind – a mother. I have honestly never thought too hard or had a particular job in mind in regards to a career. My only goal was to make enough money in whatever career choice so I can give my children everything I never had growing up. I want to be able to take them on vacations, allow them to play sports and pay for their school. I want to be the mother I needed and never had growing up.
4. Travel. I would love to be able to travel when and where I pleased. I think I will feel more comfortable taking a nice long vacation when I know I don’t have any lingering debt. We aren’t giving up vacations entirely while I’m paying off my student loans. Our upcoming trips were planned in advance and have been planned out to the penny. All of our vacations for now will be on the cheaper side or just a long weekend here and there. Sometimes you just need to get away for a while. Vacations are good for clearing your mind and giving you a better perspective of life – they also can help you appreciate how great your life really is.
This year I am taking a weekend trip to Chicago with my grandpa over 4th of July weekend. He wanted to talk a vacation with all of his grand kids and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I am also taking a week long trip to Michigan at the end of July with jmr’s family. Having a couple of vacations to look forward to this year helps ease my anxiety of paying of debt and gives me something to look forward to in the meantime.
Jmr and I also talked about taking a trip to Cancun, Mexico once I paid off my student loans as a “congratulatory trip,” which seems like a good end to this long process. If we did this, the trip would be paid for in cash long before we went.
5. Financial Independence. This dream ties into my dream of paying of debt and being financially smart when it comes to buying a home (ultimately paying it off as fast as possible). I don’t want to be debt free just from student loans, I want to be debt free for life – house, paid for, cars, paid for, retirement, yeah no problem. I would love to be in a place where I never again counted down the days until payday, where I could wake up and say “oh, I got paid today that’s cool,” like it was no big deal, instead of my “I have 5 days, 3 hours, 54 minutes and 37 seconds until payday” mind frame.
Having future dreams for myself (other than the obvious – being debt free) pushes me to want to keep moving forward, because no matter how much money I throw at my debt each month, big or small, every step allows me to get that much closer to the finish line and ultimately what I really want out of life. My dreams aren’t extravagant, but they are real, and mine alone, and any dream you have is worth reaching for.
What are your wildest dreams?