DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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1 July 2013

Paying off debt

Sandy made a good point in her comment the other day when she said: We saved and budgeted hard years ago and cleared the mortgage. That is what helped us to live 'easier' now. But easier doesn't mean you give up 'simple'...it makes living 'simply' easier!  That hit the nail on the head for me and it helps to clarify the point that simple life isn't only about frugality and paying off debt. Money isn't, and shouldn't be, the main focal point of life. However, if you have debt it will stop you living the life you want because your efforts will be directed towards paying off your debt instead of living your life fully. Debt reduction and not gaining more debt is part of simple life, but it's just one of many parts that make up how we live.


Hanno and I bought our home on a 20 year mortgage and paid that mortgage off in eight years. Had  we still been in debt when I realised I was burnt out and wanted to stop work, I would not have been able to do what I did. I would have continued working until it was paid off. Luckily we were debt-free, so I had the self-indulgent luxury of giving up work to find a better way to live.

Hanno took control of our debts from day one of our mortgage. He paid the mortgage fortnightly instead of monthly and we paid extra payments whenever we had spare cash. Now that I look back, it wasn't easy but it was much easier than stretching it out to pay over 20 years and, as a consequence, paying so much more in interest payments. By knuckling down to pay that mortgage off fast, we literally saved ourselves tens of thousands of dollars.

You have to be strong to do something like that but I have to tell you I didn't feel strong while we did it. I only recognised our fortitude and strength much later, with the benefit of hindsight. Imagine this: we're both working hard, we have a young family, we're living in an isolated town to maximise our earning potential and friends ask us to to join them and their family for a weekend on a tropical island. It took guts to say no, but that's what we did. It was with trepidation at first but later it got easier. We didn't always say no to invitations but we did it enough to make a financial difference. Over those years we did take our boys off on camping trips, on a trip to Tasmania and to see our national capital - Canberra. But we also focused on our debts and paid them off. When we saw that debt total slowly decrease, it became easier and we knew we were doing the right thing. We didn't realise then what I know now - that paying off debt lifts the weight of the world from your shoulders and gives you the luxury of freedom.

And you never know what that freedom will be used for. It could be for an early "retirement" such as mine, to cut back full-time work to part-time to have more time for the family, it could be to divide your time between work and study. It could be anything. The important thing is that freedom and independence it will be there waiting there for you too.

Tomorrow we'll talk about various strategies you can use to pay off debt.  In the meantime, I'd love you to share your thoughts with us on paying off debt.


48 comments:

  1. We have recently refinanced our mortgage to pay it off faster, going from a 30-year to a 15-year. We will have saved something like $180,000 by the time it's done. It's a good feeling to know that we can save so much money and own our home outright so much faster. It requires some sacrifice but it's worth it. Really, it forces us to choose a simpler, more frugal life, which is our preference anyway.

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  2. I so look forward to your posts, Rhonda. Thank-you for creating this community. My debt story has to do with the debt I took on while going for a master's degree. I, truthfully, made some very poor financial choices during that time in my life and took on a lot of debt. It was so easy to do, why not? Or so I thought. Then I was finished with my degree and out in the working world. Reality set in quickly. Although I have never regretted continuing my education, I came to regret some of the debt I took on. And, so, for the first six years of my working career, I paid off my student loans and credit card debt I had accumulated. Friends thought I was crazy. They'd say things like "why are you doing that, the interest rate is so low". When my co-workers would go out for coffee every day, I would go along but not buy anything. When they went out to lunch, I would eat my sack lunch or leftovers warmed in the microwave. I would allow myself one coffee out on pay day. Period. And, I did it. I paid off my debt. What a relief. Everything you wrote about the freedom it brings was true for me. I have never carried debt like that since. If I do use my credit card, it is paid off when the bill comes. Now, my credit card is just another way I manage my monthly budget. Thanks again for doing this series. Cheers, SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

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  3. Rhonda- you said " You have to be strong to do something like that, but I have to tell you I didn't feel strong while we did it"
    That is exactly how I felt when we paid off a " going out of business" debt of $112,000 in less than 6 years.
    At times I felt such pressure particularly it being a long time and more so the closer we got to paying it off because the GEC happened during that time and it was a huge struggle when the cost of groceries and petrol etc went up.
    Karen NZ

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  4. Hi Rhonda,
    it's alyce from the Blackheath workshop here my first comment in over 2 years biw but how could i resist on my favourite topic? Again thank you so much for the blog and the thought you put into what your readers want and need to know. You are a defining woman in my life. I am 26 years old and living with my partner and his family. We have enough money for a home deposit and began searching a while ago after about 6 months of saturdays spent at open houses we realised we didnt want or need the responsibility of a house just yet and took the offer to move in with his parents. Both of us are currently doing post graduate studies which we finish at the end of next year, the point at which buying a house with a much larger deposit will make more sense. Being at the age I am I find the money that I do budget as 'spending' often allocated to going out for coffee/dinner with friends. I often think how things have changed, how going out for dinner would have seemed like a real treat when my parents were my age and even more so a complete rarity when my grandparents were now I know friends who buy lunch every day and go out for dinner some nights of the week too. Each to their own but I think surely it is impossible to save under those conditions. As you said Rhonda my desire to save does at times have me saying no to social events or chossing carefully what I eat or drink at these events but I dont see this as a sacrifice really just a nessesity to keep me on track for the life I want for myself, my partner and eventually my family. As always thank you Rhonda xx Alyce

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    1. How good to "see" you here, Alyce! It's Joy, from the Blackheath workshop. I love the way you are working towards your goal, and a comment you made at the workshop about how you continue to do that, in the face of puzzled not-quite-but-almost opposition from friends.

      It's a real balancing act, though - saving, paying off debt, and enjoying time with friends. And really thinking about needs versus wants.

      Good work! I wish I'd been like you at your age.

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  5. It's lovely to "see" you again, Alyce. I was hoping you'd be lured out because I was very impressed by what you had to say about budgeting at Blackheath. Again, you have good ideas above that would work for a range of people. You're a great role model for the younger women and man here. {{hugs}}

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  6. Living debt free is what allows us to live & work at our ranch full time now. I'd still be chained to an 8-5 job that was crushing my health otherwise. Now I can't believe we're here side-by-side living our dream. We still work, but we work for ourselves doing meaningful work that we love - working with our animals. It's not as hard to do as it sounds, but it does take discipline to keep plugging away until no debt remains. When our debt was eliminated we continued to make those same debt payments but made them as a deposit into our savings account as we would any other bill. As it built up we made a withdrawal and purchased a CD and continued adding to our savings account, paying ourselves just as we would with any other bill. After a while we had a comfortable nest egg and it wasn't painful at all since we were already used to making those payments anyway!

    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, Texas

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  7. I wish things like a household budget, mortgages, credit cards etc were talk at school. One of the main problems these days is that people don't use cash much, it's all cards even if the money is coming out of your account rather than a credit card so weather we have money or not people's norm is to buy it now and pay it later. If people use cash in their wallet instead of an eftpos card you pretty soon understand if you have money or not. I was taking to my nieces at Christmas time when they were visiting us in Brisbane and suggested every time they get a $5 note to put it away as savings in a jar as they wouldn't miss $5 however while they though it sounded like a great idea they said they they don't have cash because they use their cards so in one way cards are convenient not touching money is I think a bad think because it removes any idea about handling cash. So kids these days would never use the envelope system of getting the weekly money out and dividing it up for entertainment, groceries, bills, shopping etc.

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  8. Thank you Rhonda for this wonderful post. I am a 30 year old stay at home mum to two little boys. My husband works away at the moment and while it is very hard missing each other and the boys missing their father and vice versa, we have realised that we can put this extra money to great work. We know that we can pay off our home in 7 years and this will then allow my husband to take a lesser paying job near home. It is extremely hard to say no to social events, holidays and experiences while our friends go out enjoy life but we have a goal and know that by having no mortgage it will allow us more freedom to choose which things we would like to do and to have my husband and the boys father home every night will be the true gift.
    Jaimee.

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    1. Keep up the good work, Jaimee. I know it's tough, you do too, but few of the good things in life are easy. My son Kerry and his partner (in their early 30s) are doing exactly what you're doing. Kerry works away for two weeks then has two weeks at home. Sunny works some week days and every weekend and Hanno and I look after Jamie for them when Kerry is away. They're hoping to buy their own home one day and they're doing a great job of doing that.

      Paying off that mortgage will be life changing for you both. Good luck. :- )

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  9. This is one of my favourite topics! We owned our home by 30 and agree with the fortnightly payments as well as extra payments where possibly but the biggest thing I advise people to do is to pay an extra amount EVERY week. As little as $10 (a lunch or 2 cups of coffee) the loan wont drop dramattically with that amount, but its to get into the routine of building up more, increase that $10 to $20 and so on. Once the mind is set and realises the money isnt there to spend, it is a lot easier to do.
    Ive had many arguments with people over this where they just dont have a spare $10 a week, but really a little adjustment in spending I believe it can be found. Even now without the pressure of my 1st mortgage (& paying off a 2nd) I could do more in saving money on coffees out etc!

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  10. We made paying off our mortgage a priority. The aim was to be debt free by forty which we achieved comfortably. We were self employed and were never sure where the next pay cheque would be coming from so we put every spare cent on the mortgage. We have two kids who always had food on the table, a warm bed and lots of love. They didn't have extravagent holidays but went camping and we had a few small holidays were we stayed somewhere we could self cater.

    Now the kids are in their twenties its interesting that they go camping with friends and both live within their budgets as students but still manage to have a car (fully paid for) and live well. It seems our 'simple living' has rubbed off on to them. they still go out but not as often as their friends and are happy with more simple pleasures.

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  11. Oh to be debt free! I recently took on full-time work along with my regular casual work in order to pay down our mortgage faster but in this case I don't think it's working as I'm too exhausted to do my regular work around the house that saves us money. It is only a short term contract and we've managed to get some bigger cost renovation things done around that house that were costing us money (e.g. slow leaks etc) but I think I'll stick to part-time work when this is done and dusted. I love watching our mortgage decrease and sometimes it's the only thing that keeps me going when I'm utterly exhausted. We certainly haven't, and don't intend to, take on any more debt. We can live with what we've got thanks!

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    1. Yes downtowndownshift, the "Good Life" comes at a cost doesn't it? People become exhausted chasing the dollar, and don't have the opportunity to enjoy it!

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  12. We are striving to pay out our mortgage so that we can both retire. If I had known in my twenties and early thirties what I know now I may have done things differently. However, there is no use looking back - we just need to get on with getting rid of this mortgage.

    I see being mortgage-free as an opportunity to live more simply - not less, because my time will be my own to spend on doing things in my own home.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful post.

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  13. Since following your blog and making small changes like cooking from scratch and making home made laundry liquid and other things even I on one income and working part time can put away those extra dollars and put on my house loan each week, its amazing what we can do if we really take a look at our spending.
    Thank you for you wonderful posts each week and great ideas x

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  14. @Kathy
    No cash doesn't have to change this. Money comes straight into our bank account on Friday afternoon.
    Every Saturday morning I sit down and see how much has come in (husband is self employed) then set aside a percentage for GST, super and taxes. Set amounts cover monthly (phone, groceries,insurance,...) and yearly costs (car rego, maintenance house, holiday fund,...). I've build a very simple Excel worksheet for this, so you can look at it for the year to come. It only takes me 5 minutes a week to check bank accounts and use this. It shows you where your money goes and where you can direct it.
    I've started this when I was 18, living on my own, going to university in the evenings while working during the day to pay for it, money was very tight and certain yearly bills like school fees were high enough that they needed to be budgeted through the year. I'm 31 now, a mother of three and still use this system while fast tracking the mortgage payments.
    My mum gave us pocket money every month, it also had to cover our own expenses like clothing and gifts for birthday parties. Money was tight then too, wanting more meant I had to work for it myself. When my kids turn 10 I'll teach them the same. Some school have started to bring it in again, I would push my school to do it as well, would volunteer to help set it up.
    Cheers, Marijke

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    1. Marijke, at what age were you able to buy your own clothes? My oldest child is 13, and keen to try this but I'm not sure if that's too young to try it.

      Thanks, Madeleine

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    2. Jessikah of OregonJuly 01, 2013 3:58 pm

      My parents did the same for us. My mother was a school teacher, father was an accountant, and my grandmother a bookkeeper. We were 9 years old when we had to start buying our extra clothes, toys, and birthday/x-mas gifts. Mind you they did supply us with yearly basics like jeans, t-shirts, underwear, socks, and shoes(1 pair each). Plus school supplies. Everything else we had to earn money for. We also each had bank accounts that we had to keep in order at the end of each month (Mum always checked our math for us.)We would have sheets of paper with jobs on the fridge. It would say how much it was worth and what was expected to be done. We could pick a job, do it, then write our name on the paper and put it in a jar. At the end of the week we were paid by my father. We also worked for our extended family doing odd jobs. My mother would ask us how much we wanted to save in our accounts. The amount was up to us, but she would always suggest $10 and we usually did. I had several thousand saved by the time I turned 18. I used this method on my own children who are 20yrs,17yrs and both have excellent saving and spending skills. They even had to buy their own groceries for a week so as to understand how much it cost to feed them. They had to raise their own money for that too. Boy my son ate a lot of ramen that week. My daughter ate very well though. She had raise $81 and he only $45.

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    3. Good on you Marijke. My goal at the moment is to teach my 8 year old that money does not fall from the sky! He has a chart on the fridge with jobs that need to be done. When these are completed, he receives a tick,which equates to a certain amount of money.He continues to complete jobs and save for his goals. Then he can enjoy the moment when he can go to the toy shop to spend his hard earned cash. This is an important lesson that we can teach and impart to our children.

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  15. Last year I had some huge unexpected expenses. Combined with my mortgage, credit cards personal loan (for my car) I felt like I was drowning in debt at the ripe old age of 24. I started to feel like I was sinking into depression.

    I made the decision to get a second job and put every spare cent into my debts. Within a month from now I will have only the mortgage left to go. The feeling of relief is amazing. I also feel a sense of pride that I have worked my way out of the situation without any help from anyone else.

    Instead of paying just the minimum required each month I've wiped out a 5 year personal loan in just under 1 year! I think the most important thing is that I've learned from my mistakes and kept working hard and moving forward :)

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  16. There is a wealth of information here for those who are paying off debts. When we first got married in the seventies we decided to live on one wage even though we were both working so that it wouldn't be too much of a shock when we had children and I became a stay-at-home mum which was the norm amongst my friends in the early eighties. Houses weren't as expensive as they are now but, then again, wages weren't as high either. We were fortunate to be able to pay off the house loan in a few years. We rarely bought anything new and it is amazing what you can find at garage sales. I became an expert at finding 'good' clothes at Op Shops before it became trendy to do so. Taking the time to make up a budget and sticking to it is well worthwhile in the long run.

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  17. I was 37 when I bought my first home. I'd spent years avoiding it, for some reason. I'd done overseas holidays, holidays here at home in Australia, bought a new car when I needed a car (instead of a second hand one), going out every Friday night (at least). But I never had any debt except for my credit card, which I paid off each month.

    So, when I did buy my home, I had a sizable deposit, so my mortgage wasn't the maximum that I could afford. At the time, the bank would have lent me an awful lot more, but I didn't feel comfortable with that size loan. Instead, I bought a smaller house - it still suited me, but it didn't have all the mod cons. I chose my home according to what I felt comfortable with paying. I was still uncomfortable with having debt.

    Now, I'm 52, and retired. To get where I am meant not so many holidays, taking lunch to work instead of buying it (it was healthier, anyway), being happy with a reliable car instead of always having a new one, and focusing on my needs (material needs, health needs etc) instead of my wants.

    I still enjoyed time with friends, but it became once a fortnight instead of once a week. The friends adapted.

    And I'm happier now than I have ever been.

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  18. Great post it just gives me a boost to what we are doing right now. We are first home owners and still currently paying off our mortgage, we pay over our minimum payment and pay weekly but we also applied for a loan we knew we could manage and before we applied saved like crazy for a substantial deposit.

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  19. Hi Rhonda great subject.
    After loosing everything to a business with my ex husband at 40 years old. I met my new hubby, his ex wife spent everything. We both started out with little. We saved bought a house have paid double payments on the mortgage ever since. We have been paying for 5 years now, about 6 years to go, nearly halfway. We watch others have overseas holidays and new cars, and they say why don't you come, not our priority. We have a caravan and go away 2 or 3 times a year, love that you take and cook all your own food, the only cost is for the park and the odd icecream or two. Di

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  20. Good morning Rhonda,

    From my earliest days as a child learning about money my parents drilled into me two important rules: 1) credit card debt is bad, and 2) never go into debt for a car. These rules stuck and I have never faulted by them. It’s funny though, because I have witnessed first-hand the parents of close friends actually encourage their kids to go down both of these paths…

    The reasoning varies, but I’ve heard…

    “Getting a credit card debt and proving you can make the minimum payments will help you establish a credit score and demonstrate to the bank you’re able to cope with repayments” and “you should go on a lease and get yourself a nice car like so-and-so, we did, and it worked for us!”

    And so the cycle of financial illiteracy continues…

    The other thing I have come to grow weary of is contracts e.g. the type associated with things like mobile phones, pay tv, internet, etc. they seem so benign on the surface, but I’ve entered these myself and felt trapped while cheaper deals are springing up all around me, and it really limits your options for bowing out of these services if you were to encounter troubled times ahead – you’re essentially stuck.

    I myself have been gently criticised by friends that I have an irrational fear about debt. I don’t know about that - but I’m willing to accept that I may sit on a slightly higher level of concern - it really doesn’t sit well with me, perhaps this is more a reflection of the casual relationship most of society have developed with accepting debt? – Not sure.

    I don’t aspire to having lots of money, but I think all debt, even your house, needs to be treated like a huge emergency that needs the greatest focus in correcting. When we first took on a mortgage a bit over 5 years ago, we also took on extra jobs – ushering/event ticketing, children’s sports photography, cleaning houses, just to name a few. The concept being that there will never be a time when you are more easily able to push yourself to earn an extra buck, and for every dollar saved in the early years will pay dividends later on.

    The result? We’re both under thirty, and own almost three-quarters of our house, are twenty years ahead of the minimum repayments, and the interest on the remaining amount is easily managed, at just a fraction of what we’d have to pay if we were renting. Gradually knocking down the mortgage and reducing everyday costs by living simply has helped us get to where we are. We’ve been afforded the option of collapsing down to a single income to look after our newborn, and even with this reduction, we’re still saving money, and should be able to pay the house off in full well before our first child attends primary school. That’s freedom.

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    1. It's freedom and it's wonderful. xx

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    2. I whole heartedly agree!!

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  21. Another great post and lots of interesting replies. I just wish that people who really need budgeting help would find and read your blog Rhonda but I do wonder if they might be too busy reading all the shopping websites!

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  22. Hi Rhonda.

    Great post as always. I agree completely with the comments about a huge weight being lifted off your shoulders when your mortgage is paid off. My husband and I paid our mortgage off one week before our second child was born...that truly was a great feeling! The benefits that followed on from that, however, were even better for us. For us, it meant my husband could become self employed (a goal he had always had) in a small business with not too many pressures. For me, I was able to work part-time in a lesser paying but more meaningful job and could walk away from the better paying but life sapping job I had in the financial industry. And for our children, it means lots of time spent together as a family with Mum and Dad able to be there for lots of the little but "big" things in their lives.

    Although we paid off our mortgage a few years ago, we only discovered "simply living" around two years ago through this amazing blog! Rhonda, I have to say one of the most powerful budgeting tools I have ever used is cash! I read your posts about the envelope system and began using this 18 months ago. Wow...I really couldn't believe how much we saved when we were paying for things using cash. It makes you think twice about every purchase you make. The best moment though, was when our accountant asked how we managed to do so well on such relatively small incomes! I'm sure you can imagine how proud I was, telling her about the envelope system and watching her furiously take notes because she wanted to start using this herself!

    Cheers!
    Karyn from Brisbane

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    1. haha! that's excellent, Karyn. Ripples are going out everywhere. Keep up the good work.

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  23. oh this is such an excellent time to pay off your mortgage as well, since interest rates are so low. I think it is important to pay whatever your budget will allow - not think about what the minimum payment should be. Unfortunately the banks tell young kids what they are qualified for and never explain what will happen when the rates go up.

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  24. Hi Rhonda, imagine my surprise when I opened your blog this afternoon! Thank you!

    Being mortgage free is achievable if you set your heart & mind to it. Hubby & I are so conscious of being debt free all the time. We have no loans at all and when we use our credit card for an online purchase we first have to have the funds to be able to pay it off immediately. So there is never anything owing.

    We holidayed regularly when our children were little. But not an overseas trip or to a fancy resort. We had a big family tent and we camped everywhere. It was cheap and we had so much fun and the kids experienced a lot of freedom.

    Just all depends on what you want out of life the most!

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  25. Hi Rhonda, Hi All!
    My mum got me onto your blog long ago & I also have a copy of your wonderful book!
    I can appreciate everybody's sentiments about saving and spending less etc but it does leave me feeling somewhat depressed!!
    As a 25 year old engaged full time worker of only 2 years, I still have my degree which was Hexed to pay off (approx $28,000) as well as a wedding to save for & traveling to look forward to. As well as these things, we feel ready to start a family after being together for 5 years. What depresses me is all the talk of holidays missed and opportunities squandered because of the obsession of saving. I absolutely appreciate the importance of saving money so you have a nest egg or so in the future you can work less etc but what is saving if not to enjoy your hard work once in a while by experiencing other cultures, learning new things from different places & people or creating a memory that will last a lifetime & is priceless.
    If money is not the basis of living then why do so many comments sound like they are coming from people who have let their money status determine their opportunities?
    I hope to save & feel good about my contributions to the future but I also hope to enjoy & feel guilt free about spending some of my hard earned cash on doing things and going places I dream about!
    I hope I am not missing the point but I think finding a balance is really important and some comments don't quite sound in proportion to me!
    Happy saving &/or spending everyone :)

    x Lil

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    1. Hi Lil, you're not missing the point love, you're making it. Life is lived in stages and at each stage we decide what our priorities are. Yours now are to pay off your hex debt, get married and travel. Many of us are older folk, we've already done all that. I had hex fees, I lived in Europe for two years and married there. Everything you dream of is possible but I hope you don't go into a lot of debt to achieve your dreams. I thought I'd illustrated in my post that our kids didn't miss out because we still took them away, we cut out the frivolous things to do the important travel (with them). It's a balancing act but it can be done. And you're right, the trick is to enjoy life while we live it.

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    2. Dear Lil,

      Saving is not the obsession here - the obsession or focus is to meet your financial goals, which differ for all of us. However we need hard earned cash to meet these goals and enjoy them.At the same time, we need to live somewhere. Either rented, or to pay off our own home.It is a balancing act. In the lucky country we can have it all if we aspire to work hard - we can play hard. However it will take some time to repay your HECS debt AND pay for a wedding, AND travel and start a family. How are you going to achieve all that without prioritizing your goals? If you want children, will you continue to work and pay for child care, or do you plan to stay home?If you stay home and live on one income, how will you meet your commitments? If you rent, you are ultimately paying off someone else's rental property. If you want your own home, we need a deposit, then there are rates and all the overheads.It is a matter of perspective. What we want comes at a cost. This is the reality of life - you may choose to consider it depressing, but these are the facts of life.

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    3. Thank you Rhonda and also to anonymous for your replies!I appreciate the feedback.
      I guess the point that I need to take from this is the priorities part and understanding that compromises need to be made and you have to balance everything out in order to make those compromises.
      It just all seems quite overwhelming to me & sort of impossible to do it all with just the money that I/we make. I guess that is the point as well, every little bit helps. Makes me want to get a second job!
      Thanks again for the responses :)
      X Lil

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    4. Chin up Lil, it's absolutely possible. Your situation mirrors ours - in only 5 years we bought a house, she got a big rock, we got married, travelled overseas on multiple occasions, including honeymooning in Europe for 6 weeks, paid off HECS, paid down 3/4 of our mortgage and now have a beautiful daughter. You can do it if you want to, just be sure that not one dollar is spent on something that doesn't tick off your goals, and be prepared to work hard for what you want.

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  26. We are in our 50's, are debt free, hubby still has a well paying job and I am lucky enough to be able to stay at home. I have been reading about your budgeting Rhonda, and the other day I tried using cash instead of the credit card for a small purchase at the supermarket (smoked salmon and some cream for a special recipe). We aren't big spenders and we're very fortunate that we can afford to pay off our credit card each month, so I would normally just flash the card and not even register the cost. Having to hand over the $13 cash, Really made me register how much I was spending!

    I will now definitely look deeper into your system, as one day hubby might not be employed or we will be retired and just not have the same level of income. May as well start learning to live like that now. So thank you for a timely subject.





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  27. I long to be debt free. In 2004 I had to take out a loan for a specialized school that saved my granddaughter's life. It's a hefty amount to pay each month and I still have several years until it is paid off. I also have some credit card debt that mounted up due to job lay offs and life in general.

    Sometimes, life gets in the way of good intentions and all we can do is keep up with the payments, live simply to make those monthly payments and feel pride that we can pay off that debt within our lifetime.

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  28. Love this post. I made some unwise financial decisions when returning to college after a long period away. I felt smothered by debt and looked at pay day as the transfer of the paper day (1 pay check in, dozens of checks out). After finding this blog a little over a year ago I sat down and made a spreadsheet of all my bills (school loans, bills, etc.). It wasn't easy to see it in black and white and it made me feel more smothered than ever BUT it was what it was. I read your book and took the advice in it. In one year time I have completely paid of several large bills and made a significant dent in the student loan debt. It isn't always easy or fun, but seeing those numbers go down each month gives me the boost I need to get through another month. Slowly the smothered feeling is lifting and I am looking forward to being debt free. One step at a time.

    Jlynn

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  29. Rhonda, what a wonderful series about living debt-free - especially for those young and just starting out. I'm now retired and, thankfully debt-free, since living on a "fixed income" would be quite difficult if I weren't. I do need to work on finding a grocery store here that isn't so expensive. I went with "convenience" when I first moved into this condo/apartment and didn't know the area; but food here in the capitol of Iowa is expensive! I think that's one area I could save and need to work on that.

    I really enjoy your blog even though I rarely comment.

    Blessings,
    Dianne

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  30. I agree that using cash for purchases really keeps you grounded as to what you are actually spending. Using credit cards is a lot like playing with the tokens that you buy at a casino---you lose track of the fact that they represent real money.

    Even debit cards (which seem to be used by most everyone) seem to me to be something to avoid. Even though it is coming straight out of your bank account, unless you check the balance often, your bank statement at the end of the month may contain a nasty surprise.

    All those little purchases add up in the end. If your cash supply is dwindling you can see it coming and do something about it before it's too late.

    Victoria in Indiana

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  31. Getting out of debt has other advantages. My husband and I discussed retiring early when we were still engaged. We both loved our respective careers, but had seen enough people in their 50s who either wanted out, or were shown the door, to know we didn't want to have that happen to us. Our first goal was enough savings so neither one of us had to stay at a job we didn't like just because we needed the money. The second advantage to having that money: I did stay one place longer than I wanted, but I chose it. Knowing I didn't have to stay made it so much easier.

    We did both retire in our early 50s, by choice. Setting that goal all those years ago made all the difference in staying the course through the years.

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  32. Hi Rhonda,
    My husband and I went without luxury items and the like to pay extra off our mortage to get it out of the way nice and early. Being second time marrieds and sorta starting again in my 30s his 40s, we had to really put our minds to it, especially with five children between us, university costs for them etc. However it was the best thing we ever did, because suddenly at 60 my husband was made redundant, so we were wholly dependant on my wage. If we had debt still, I hate to think where we would be at, emotionally and mentally more than anything.
    And because of making an effort to simplfy our wants, we can still afford to go on holiday this year.
    Kathy, Tas

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  33. I am in my early 30's & my husband is in his early 40's, we bought our first home together 3 & a half years ago, we bought one of the cheapest houses in our are so our mortgage payments are quite manageable. Our problem is the bad debt we accumulated afew years ago. My husband wanted us to go on an overseas holiday before we started trying for a baby. We didn't have the money for the holiday so i agreed to put it on my credit cards as i desperately wanted to become a mother & would have agreed to anything to achieve my dream, we both had decent incomes so thought we could easily pay off the cards when we returned. About a month after our holiday my husband lost his job unexpectedly so our income dropped by half. It took a while for him to find another job & it was only part time, by this stage we added to our credit card debt as we couldn't afford our council rates or car registration. I had a baby last year & took 6 months off work which was paid leave & have now returned part time. My husband still hasn't been able to find more work & we can only barely make minimum payments on everything so we have been paying off these debts for almost 3 years but aren't getting ahead. We have sold our 2nd car & greatly reduced our grocery bill but it's still not enough. Also in the past year we had to buy a new hot water system, a 2nd hand oven, had 2 plumbing emergencies & a big vet bill & car repairs.I feel like i'm drowning & can't see a way out of this mess that we've gotten ourselves into. I know it wasn't the right time to have a baby financially but i honestly didn't think it would take this long for him to find more work. We no longer use our credit cards but the interest is killing us, we pay about $750 a month in payments but that's not getting us anywhere. I have your book & it is what keeps me going, it is my bible & i hope one day we can get back on our feet so i can start to enjoy these early years with my 9 month old daughter.
    Monica.

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  34. Great post, Rhonda and fellow readers.
    Your comments have inspired me and I just rang up my bank tonight and increased our mortgage repayments to an extra $100 per week. I need to start paying for things with real money as I find it too easy to spend money frivolously when using cards. Tomorrow I will sit down and sort out an envelope system.

    xx Nadia

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  35. This can keep us working jobs we hate just to pay the bills and keep our heads above water.

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