Quick answer? HARD WORK!
There’s a great article on DaveRamsey.com discussing the 7 Characteristics of Debt-Free People. Read the whole thing but here’s the quick list.
- Wise – debt is dumb, not a tool
- Patient – can walk past the shoe aisle and put off the big screen TV purchase
- Confident – don’t care when your friends think you’re weird
- Not materialistic
- Willing to make sacrifices
As I read the article I agreed and thought how each one of them applied to our debt-free journey.
Our first “milestone” was the realization that debt was not a good idea. That we didn’t HAVE to be in debt for the rest of our lives. That we didn’t need to have a car payment. That there was a better way of doing things.
Then comes the patience as you walk through the baby steps. We were fortunate in that when we were getting rid of our consumer debt we were making pretty good money and so we zipped through it fairly fast – I think about 10 months or so. Of course selling one of the cars helped.
But I know people that take a year or more to pay off their debt. It’s hard to stay motivated and patient but it is so worth it.
Dave has a saying, “Normal is broke. Be weird.” It’s a good thing I don’t care too much what others think. I remember when my oldest brother couldn’t believe we didn’t have a credit card.
“What if something happens?” he asked.
“Name something that might happen that I can’t cover with my $10,000 emergency fund… that a credit card would be the solution.”
He couldn’t. (He’s since jumped on the Dave Ramsey bandwagon.)
I will say that the “not materialistic” part sort of evolved during our journey. It definitely wasn’t there at the outset. But the interesting thing was that as we did without something temporarily, when it came time that we could afford it, often we realized we didn’t care that much anymore.
What other characteristics would you say it takes to become debt-free?