How attitudes change as you pay off debt

It occurred to me while writing a post yesterday that so much about the way I look at life has changed since I began this process of paying off debt. Early on in the process, as I looked down the debt hole we had dug and tried to imagine how we would ever fill it in, I think I got a little depressed (though I kept it up). Now that we are more than half way there in our debt reduction goal, I realise that my whole attitude to life has changed, and I wonder if this happens to other people when they set out to pay off a lot of debt.

I’ve grouped the changes I’ve notcied in myself into 4 broad categories, which are (no doubt) intertwined:

 1) Less focus on debt

2) Less focus on acquiring assets

3) Greater focus on investing

4) More focus on how to be less dependent on a wage for income

Let me take each of these independently and explain what I mean.

1) Less focus on debt

This might seem like a bad thing, and also a little untrue as any regular reader of my blog can attest (I’m always talking about my debt!). But what I mean is, now that debt repayment is a normal part of life, I’m less concerned with the best way to go about it, or the impact on my quality of life. I now have the automatic payments sorted and I have read and re-read every debt repayment approach I can find in books, blogs and magazine articles. I used to devour articles on the best way to rid myself of credit card debt or how to avoid paying too much interest in personal loans.  I’m still focused on repaying the debt, but less likely to beat myself around the head with how and more interested in thinking ahead to the next step in the cycle ie planning my approach to money in the future.

2) Less focus on acquiring assets

This, I think, is the biggest difference between me now and last time I attempted to pay off all my debt. This time, I’m not trying to pay off all my debt just to be able to afford my next sofa or new car.  Suddenly, I really like the idea of having a good emergency fund, having money in the bank and not necessarily going out of my way to fill up our house. This is probably partly because we are sharing a home with a relative, but it also means that we can spend our spare time playing at the local pool or hanging out with our son, rather than cruising the furniture stores looking for the next `thing’ to buy. I also no longer miss the money that is going on debt repayment, so that means I will be able to save that money when the debts are gone.

3) Greater focus on investing

Suddenly, now that I can see the light in terms of debt repayment, I want to think about how to accumulate more income-producing assets once my debts are gone. I wasn’t brought up in a family of investors so I need to teach myself everything. That’s OK though, I don’t yet have any money to invest because I’m still repaying debt, so I can use this time to educate myself about shares and investments and think about what I might want to invest in in the future.

4) More focus on how to be less dependent on a wage for income

Don’t get me wrong, I am not even on the same planet as someone who could contemplate being in this position. I am certainly not aiming for it any time soon, and in fact am working pretty hard in my studies to BEGIN a career, not STOP working. But lately I have been meeting a lot of people who love their job but who are working to ensure they don’t have to be dependent on it later in life. I have to admit that until recently I had never even thought of a life where I wasn’t dependent on a salary. It just means that I have broadened my mind a little about what the future might hold, and that’s got to be a good thing.

So there you have it, the process of paying off debt does seem to have changed me, and that’s probably one good reason why – even though it’s hard – it’s a process worth going through.

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7 Comments »

  1. Great post – This is my first time reading your blog and you have hit a lot of things right one the head.

    When I first started to try to get out of debt I read everything I could and nothing seemed to work. Once you set everything up on auto pilot it becomes easier to pay things off and save at the same time. You become much smarter about where your money goes when you become smarter about it.

    My attitude changed when I saw the credit card bill and to notice I was paying 24% that was my wake up call.

  2. […] How attitudes change as you pay off debt @ So Sick of Debt: Sick of Debt shares her thoughts while going through her debt reduction journey. She’s shifting her thoughts to financial issues beyond just debt, now that she’s able to chip through her obligations. […]

  3. It sounds like you have things figured out and are headed in the right direction. Debt is a poison that will kill our future. Thanks for sharing! I plan to include your article in my weekly carnival review Friday.

    Best Wishes,
    D4L

  4. wealthy_1 said

    I agree with The Debt Reducer. I still have a long way to go, but now that I have a plan, I feel better. Whenever I start to beat myself up I just look at my plan. I look at it a lot. 🙂

  5. speedy said

    I’m like wealthy_1, I look at my plan a lot, too. I did not accomplish much financially until I had a plan and started to put it on autopilot. I still add small amounts of money here or there (to a savings goal or an investment account) as I find it. I have stopped beating myself up over the past and am focusing more on my future goals, by investing and by looking for new income streams.

    But it is not just a shift in focus, it is a lightness and a confidence that I can handle everything. Being in debt really does a number on the self-confidence — looking at a negative net worth and perhaps interpreting that as being worthless or perhaps seeing no way out of the situation. Now I have hope and confidence, and that’s priceless!

  6. This is really a great post you have here and some good points. I especially liked the fact that your mindset has changed now that you are accomplishing your debt reduction goals.

    I would bet at the beginning it seemed pointless to think about investing and such but now that your getting there its great.

    very nice

  7. […] Dig deeper into the topic here […]

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