Financial freedom sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? The thought of never again having to set up autopayments or worry about what bill is due when…Ahhh-mazing.
That said, have you ever thought about the benefits of financial freedom BEYOND just freedom with your finances?
Well today we’ve got Jacob from Dollar Diligence to introduce us to the non-financial benefits of financial freedom —
Being $25,000 in student debt, I knew I was feeling the strain and the anxiety. I hadn’t experienced a good night’s sleep in months and felt drained of energy on most days. I wasn’t completely hopeless, but I felt constrained by the enormity of the problem.
The damage my debt was doing to my finances and credit was clear, because I monitored it almost daily. But, what wasn’t so clear was the damage it was doing to me and those around me. The stress, coupled with my inability to concentrate on much of anything else, led to a deterioration of my health, my relationships and my career.
Getting free of debt not only gave me my financial freedom, it saved my career, and it probably saved my life.
Everything began to turn around for me when I got serious and developed a plan. I freelanced for extra income, I refinanced to a lower rate, and I setup auto-pay for weekly debt killing payments. Just having a plan gave me a sense of relief and the ability to focus, prioritize and make decisions. After 15 months, I am debt free.
Financially I’m not yet where I want to be, but I now have a clear path to achieving my most important goals. It’s a feeling like no other. While the financial benefits of becoming debt-free are clear, less clear, but much more important, are the non-financial benefits. When you understand how debt impacts every corner of your life, it becomes your most powerful motivation to eliminate it completely.
The Physical Reality of Debt
You feel it first in your emotional makeup. It’s hard to ignore the feelings of stress, anxiety and depression, but you feel as if you can cope with it. What you don’t realize is the physical toll it takes. Studies show that stress is a leading cause of heart disease and researchers have found a positive correlation between debt-induced stress and heart attacks.
When I was at the peak of my distress, my family forced me to get a physical. I found out I was a hypertensive time bomb that needed immediate disarming. I long ignored the migraines, the weight gain and the new age lines – all stress-induced. When I got rid of my debt, I got my health back.
Debt Can Hollow Out Your Life
While your mental and physical health deteriorate under the weight of debt, everything else that is important in your life seems to fade into the background – your family, your relationships, your career and your future.
When you can’t concentrate on anything other than your finances, nothing is prioritized. It doesn’t happen deliberately; it just happens.
You grow distant from the people close to you and there is no urgency in your relationships at home or at work. Some people become resentful of others – their spouse for not understanding or being able to help, their employer for not paying enough and anyone who is enjoying a debt-free life.
Debt threatened my relationships, my career and my future. When I became debt-free, I got my life back.
Finding the True Meaning of Wealth
At the risk of drawing any comparisons between eliminating debt and surviving some real life and death situation, I did gain a similar sense of appreciation of everything around me.
There are so many moments of wealth that occur in our lives that, when we’re lost in a fog of despair, we miss entirely. Wealth is as much about accumulating these moments of love and happiness as it is accumulating vast sums of money.
It’s also about being able to choose how you want to live your life – free to pursue your passion with peace-of-mind and no encumbrances. All of that is lost when you can’t see past a stack of bills. When I became debt-free, I became a very wealthy man.
It may seem hopeless at times, but there are great rewards awaiting you for taking a stand against your debt, the least of which is your financial freedom. When you understand how much is taken from you when debt controls your life, there is no greater feeling than making that last payment.
What would you life look like if you were financially free?
Tell us in the comments below!
This post courtesy of Jacob @DollarDiligence Follow him for daily personal finance tips! Jacob is a high school math teacher who hustled his way out of student loan debt. Frugality is Jacob’s middle name (okay…maybe not…or is it…)