We just became 100% debt free, and I should be excited

Published July 16, 2016   Posted in How to Think

This week, the sale of my home became official, marking the point where my wife and I are 100% debt free, including mortgages, car payments, credit cards and everything else. We’re done with payments, for good.

And honestly, I thought that I’d be a little more excited. I mean, just look at our Personal Capital net worth graph. What’s not to like about that surge?

Personal Capital net worth surge

Personal Capital net worth surge

I mean, I AM excited. I’m absolutely thrilled to finally be done with the whole homeowner thing, but there wasn’t that final climactic “sigh…” moment similar to what you might feel after finally getting through that hour long mind-numbing company meeting about ethics and values.

You know, that feeling you get after you totally rock that super important presentation (designed in PowerPoint, of course) at work? Or jumping up and down like a school girl because you got that birthday gift you always wanted as a child? Yeah, that shit.

I guess it’s there to a degree, but it’s not exactly overwhelming me. Maybe it’s because I saw it coming. We’ve planned for this. We expected it. We worked our ass off to make this happen, and now it’s finally here. It was not exactly a surprise.

But still, it feels strange to not be a little more excited about being debt free.

I gotta wonder – is this the way it’ll feel after working my last day, hopefully forever, at a full-time job in December? Or, maybe that excitement will just get pushed off until the following Monday morning. A former work day.

If you are debt free, were you giddy the day it happened? If you aren’t yet debt free, do you anticipate the school girl jumps once it does happen?

I somehow feel this photo relates, but I'm not sure how!

I somehow feel this photo relates, but I’m not sure how!

We track our net worth using Personal Capital



Comments

47 responses to “We just became 100% debt free, and I should be excited”

  1. If it hasn’t hit you yet, I’m sure it will over time when you never send an ACH or write a check again for a debt payment.

    That’s pretty awesome, really. When I get there I will definitely be jumping around like a school girl 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Green Swan. Maybe this is one of those things that finally begins to sink in over time, or maybe there will be situations that happen in the future that remind me how nice it is to be completely debt free. Only time will tell!

  2. Mr. PIE says:

    One way of looking this is not so much about the destination, more your journey towards it.

    I have no doubt you have peeled away the many onion layers of things that have not made you happy – homes, shiny stuff, work nonsense. And much more I am sure. Peeling away thst unhappiness allows you to find more about yourself and the experiences that provide your happiness.

    This interim destination of debt freedom could be seen as only a pit stop on the longer journey. Quick refuel and keep moving on your journey towards greater goals and so much fun stuff.

    But don’t forget to pat yourselves on the back, clink a glass or two of your favorite beverage and tell yourselves, ” We did good”. Telling yourself thst is much more important than others telling you that.

    Despite my previous sentence, I will still say “You both did good!”

    Happy Saturday!

    • Steve says:

      I like that, Mr. PIE – a pit stop, but the journey is still going. And I agree, it is definitely not finished yet, and truthfully, I don’t think there is some event or situation where I can finally say “mission accomplished”, but we’ll see. Finally quitting will definitely be a giant step towards accomplishing the mission, though.

      Celebrating the little milestones and patting yourself on the back is wonderful advice. In fact, I’ve written about that before, strangely enough. 🙂

  3. Petra says:

    Congratulations, and well done. You’ll get to that feeling of elation at some point, I have no doubt.

  4. Great thoughts Steve. I think it is all in the planning too. We went in and paid off a rental property (and hope to do another one in a few months) and as we handed over the (big) check to pay it off, they just took it and said “don’t forget you will need to go to the clerk’s office and file paperwork with them – for another $100” (Damn…more money to pay when you just paid the damn thing off!) No bells or whistles – just another transaction. Felt good – but same feeling as you. Felt the same way emptying my desk in May. Felt good – but no celebration. It’s weird when it isn’t a “normal” retirement. Just keep watching that Personal Capital graph – love that site!

    • Steve says:

      Yeah, those little fees definitely do add up, and makes the end result of finally paying off (or sell) real estate that much more sweet. 🙂

  5. Congrats Steve! I’m not debt free yet. I started with about $40k in student loans and am down to about $4k, but I leave that last one hanging around because it only has a 2.75% interest rate.

    I feel like on my journey the min-goals along the way just don’t provide the excitement as I thought they would. I was excited about my first $100k for about an hour or two. Then I was looking forward to $200k instantly. You should definitely feel proud, but I agree, you planned and worked hard for this goal. You knew you would achieve it. Was not surprise! They always say the people who work hard get “lucky” more often.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Fervent! Yeah, I think that probably does account for why there was no celebration around here. We planned. We executed. We succeeded. “The harder I work, the luckier I become”. 🙂

  6. iFreebies says:

    Congrats on being debt free! I can’t even imagine. The mortgage alone is a lifelong worthy accomplishment for most. Hopefully the joy of this sinks in over time. Please keep us posted. Your feeling is one my biggest fears about FIRE. My whole life is filled with what you describe in the post. It seems sometimes the journey to the goal is a more important chase than the end result. I have to believe early retirement is different though. Those first couple of Sunday nights / Monday mornings have got to feel amazing I would think. Congrats again.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for the comment, iFreebies. It does feel awfully nice not to have a mortgage – or even property taxes to pay. Make no mistake, though – even though there wasn’t some huge rager celebration, I’m still very thankful to have this debt off of my shoulders, and the freedom that will come from quitting the full-time job I have no doubt will be tremendous.

      But I do agree, the journey is very often sweeter than the end result. It’s weird! 🙂

  7. That’s awesome – congratulations, Steve!!

    It’s probably not as exciting just because you’ve been preparing for it for so long. I bet after time passes though, you’ll think back and breathe a sigh of relief at how this moment has changed your life forever.

    When I read the first paragraph, I started to think “yeah, but you still have property taxes to pay” and then I remembered that you don’t even have that. Nice job – freedom at last!!!

    — Jim

    • Steve says:

      Hehe, thanks Jim! Yup, no property taxes either – we pay only if we stay in a campground, and only their nightly fees. It’ll definitely be a new way of managing our finances…hopefully for the better!

  8. Andrew says:

    I’ve had similar experiences along the path to FI – the various milestones and big-ticket decisions haven’t amounted to a climatic moment of excitement/relief. I think this is a product of carefully planning and implementing a plan that takes time to come to fruition.

    But it is nice to sit and reflect on it, have a nice meditation or sip a beer and just take stock of how everything is working out as planned. That’s the true moment where it all clicks, at least for me.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Andrew, appreciate knowing that this is fairly common. And I think you’re right, this accomplishment is a good source of reflection, thinking on how far I’ve come from just a few years ago, and how things tend to work out in the end if you make the right decisions and remain consistent.

  9. Maarten says:

    Congratulations!! When I quit it felt good but the best feeling came the Friday after when I didn’t have to fill out my expense report. That’s wen the YES moment hit for me.

    • Steve says:

      Oh I can imagine! I bet that day will be the next working Monday for me. I’ll look at my watch and remark to myself, “You know, just last week I was actually working right now!” 🙂

  10. I think it’s the sale. Had you paid that last bit off with grit and effort, you would feel that PowerPoint presentation accomplishment. My prediction is that leaving work will feel very similar: excellent, but a bit anticlimactic … unless you can make that last week terrible so you have to force yourself to make it through. 😉 When things are hard, the payoff feels greater. When things are planned and front loaded as the Journey to FI is, it feels like you somehow missed that final climb to the summit by taking the stairs

    • Steve says:

      That makes sense, Maggie. It’s true that it was the house sale that enabled this debt-free-ness. Unfortunately, we still owed around $115,000 on that house, so it would have had to be a LOT of grit to pull this off any other way.

      I’m okay with it. 🙂

  11. I agree with Mr. Pie that this is just part of the journey that you have planned for and accomplished. A proverbial pit stop along the way, which you should celebrate with some excellent Mexican Food and Beer!

    We hit our debt free milestone a little over 6 months ago with the sale of our home and paying off the last of our passive income investments. It does seem anti-climactic when you consider how much energy, time, and thought you put into your goals. You could say the same about selling both your houses, giving notices, and ultimately buying you rig. You are beyond all those goals as well.

    Here is a different way of looking at it: Would you want to go back to the days of being in debt? Dianne and I both say “Hell No”! It reminds of how grateful we are for our current situation and the idea of becoming debt free no longer consumes our lives. We have found new things to replace that! 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Love it, Bryan! Nope, I definitely would never want to go back to the old way of living, that’s for sure. We plan to stay debt free for a long, long time (perhaps forever if we don’t buy another sticks and bricks home). I like your way of celebrating, too. Reminds me of the Spotted Donkey! 🙂

  12. Congratulations!! I expect that I will do a little dance when I’m debt free, but that’s because I am like an excitable child, lol. It will hit you soon 🙂 you should have a little celebration – make a cake, blow up some balloons & have a little party for the two of you 🙂

  13. Jon says:

    Nicely done, Steve. Selling my house was my final debt as well…and I believe the build-up/anticipation was so long ( escrow, delays, etc. ) eventually it just wore me smooth out and the final closing was a bit anti-climatic. But make no mistake…this is a big deal and the cash infusion will continue to fund a glorious retirement ( as it feels like you’ve reached refirement to this reader at least ). I wouldn’t be surprised if the finality of quitting work underwhelms you a bit as well. You’re basically there in mind and spirit…the rest is a formailty! 🙂

    • Steve says:

      That’s very true, Jon – I am definitely already there in mind and spirit. Perhaps if it happens unexpectedly *tomorrow*, I would feel more like doing a dance. But on the date that I’m expecting? Eh…maybe, maybe not. Only one way to find out! 🙂

  14. Congrats! Still an amazing accomplishment, even though you not so excited about it. I’m sure the big payoff will be when you leave the 9-5 for good.

    When we completed our consumer debt repayment, it was more relief than excitement. Stress was lifted for sure, and we did feel like we completed part of the journey, but understood we still have work to do. My job loss was a minor setback and we are back at building wealth now.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Brian. I bet it was a huge relief when you finally got that monkey off of your back, and you’re experiencing first hand how easy it is to build wealth once all of your debts are finally gone.

  15. Jeff says:

    Congrats on being debt free! I think it just haven’t sunk in yet. It most likely will when you quit your job at the end of the year. All of a sudden, you’ll wake up and feel like the whole world is in front of ya. I think. 🙂

  16. I’ve found this to be the case with reaching many financial milestones. Crossing a big net worth number, or even hitting my FI target number: meh. I mean, “yay, awesome, great,” but not that high-energy elation you might expect. It’s just money, in the end, not life.

    That said — way to go, and congratulations! One more huge step toward your new life of FIRE!

    Expect to go through every emotion with your last work day. I had one day of surreal “is this really happening” feelings, one day of joyous bliss, and then one day of downright depression before things evened out a bit. It’s a lot of change to digest!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for the confirmation, Matt – it really seems like it’s the norm rather than the exception. And I absolutely love your attitude, as always: “It’s just money, not life”. Amen to that, brother.

  17. Congrats! The last day of work was pretty anti-climactic for me too.

    Maybe excitement comes from the anticipation, not the arrival.

    • Steve says:

      I can tell you one thing – I sure am anxious to find out how I handle it. Can hardly wait, in fact. Hopefully, playing this waiting game will make the end that much sweeter. Maybe. 🙂

  18. We aren’t fully debt-free yet, but I felt downright giddy on the day that we paid off my student loans. We’re a long way away from paying off our mortgage, but I imagine that experience will be equally-exciting.

    Do you think you’re looking forward more to walking away from the job than you were selling the house? It’s possible that the house sale is a significant even that you’re overlooking, emotionally-speaking. Either way, congratulations; I’m excited for you guys, even if it feels a little ho-hum to you!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks FinanceSuperhero. In the greater scheme of things, walking away from the job definitely has more appeal, but that’s also because it affects my day-to-day lifestyle. Every day I have to work is a day where I can’t truly control my freedom. Selling the house…yeah, it was a financial burden, but it didn’t exactly affect me on a daily basis like a job does.

      But in the end, I know that being 100% debt free is enabling the ability to walk away from the job, so I’m entirely thankful for it. It’s nice to be debt free.

  19. Ernie says:

    Congrats on being debt free. As for me, I know I’ll be jumping up and down like a school girl once I’m debt free. I’ll just try not to scream too much!

  20. Jack says:

    I took a Travis McGee-style mini retirement many years back. My elation was two fold: once on the day i gave notice, and second on the first workday I wasn’t at work.

    Just wait till you give notice. You’ll have a grin that just won’t stop. Trust me.

  21. Basil says:

    From what I recall, you felt a lot of emotions when you made the move into the Airstream. Maybe that was the moment when it all became real for you, and what you were looking forward to most..? Selling the house is almost a minor detail* compared to the huge, happy lifestyle change of downsizing and becoming mobile!

    (Spoken by a person who has not yet had to try to sell a house…)

  22. Mike says:

    Hi Steve,
    I wonder if there’s a feeling of loss of “home” for you that may have lessened your level of excitement. I know personally I am selling my 25 year old business and while it’s exciting, it has also an identifier; a grounding; and a “home”. As I contemplate what to do next (besides pay Uncle Sam a big chunk of it), one thought I have is to pay off my few debts as you have and live off the stream of income from my investments properties. Sounds good on the surface but I’m trying to feel what I haven’t felt in 30+ years – little to no responsibility. Someone once told me that “home” can be anywhere you choose it to be. I like that and hold it close to my heart,m but I also feel that owning a home helps me feel grounded, a sense of belonging and a home-base. Just my 2-cents and congrats to you!
    Mike

    • Steve says:

      Hi Mike,

      That could be, but I’ll tell you, it would have to be very subconscious. I truly don’t miss my home at all. It was a fine place to live, certainly, but nothing about me wants to go back. But you never know, I guess. Psychology is certainly complex.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  23. BAMFmoney says:

    Selling my last place was the final piece of the puzzle leading to ER. All I did was buy a $10 bottle of beer and hung out with friends later that night. I think it’s like you said, you knew it was coming b/c it was all part of your plan, so that makes it less exciting.

    Now if there was a bidding war that broke out and drove up the sales price unexpectedly, that might be a little more exciting since it was unexpected.

    • Steve says:

      Amen to that, BAMF. We made a little more money than expected on the first house we sold, but a little less on the second, so in the end it was a wash. So yeah, nothing really surprising or out of the ordinary. We said “Yay!” and moved on. 😉

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