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11th September
written by Randy

In 2008, after two years of incredible irresponsibility I had almost $50,000 in credit card debt, in addition to another $15,000 I still owed on a car I didn’t even have anymore. Irresponsible doesn’t come close. I had spent two years living recklessly and overindulgent.

I decided to buckle down in 2008. What’s more, I lived very modestly, in a small room in the basement of my cousin’s house. I decided to go completely carless. And I made elaborate spreadsheets detailing the balances on each card and the associated interest rate.

I started with the highest interest card and worked my way to the lowest, paying off as much as I could, and after one year I was able to cut my total debt almost in half.

Progress was much slower in 2009 thanks to a series of unplanned expenses, and I made almost no progress for the first 8 months. Still, I managed to get back on track at the end of the year, and some big overtime pay helped a lot, too. I ended the year owing just over $11,000.

Among all the many things that have made 2010 an amazing year, one of the most significant is that I paid off all of my debts this May. I do not owe any bank or creditor anything. I am happy to be 100% debt free.

Now I still use one credit card, but I pay the entire balance each month. So now I pay no more interest or monthly fees, my credit rating is impeccable, and thanks to my rewards program it’s as if the bank is paying me to use their card!

Over the past few years, I’ve learned very well about the prison of excessive debt. Having debt makes you a slave. Owing money often means taking jobs you don’t like out of fear that you won’t be able to pay your debts.

And more importantly, you can’t start saving and building a buffer when you’re always trying to catch up from behind. Now that I am 100% free from all debt, I have begun saving money. I have a positive net worth, and that means the freedom to take risks in search of happiness, rather than always playing it safe to avoid pain. That difference in motive is really a difference in lifestyle, and its value is immeasurable.

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