Hey everyone! Today I have a very special guest post for you. One of the first guest posters I ever had on the site almost two years ago is back again – and he’s sharing a follow up on his story of living in a camper to pay off debt. This is a must-read. Enjoy! ~M$M
It wasn’t long ago that we had an enormous amount of debt. When my wife and I got married in 2014, we had about $50,000 of debt from student loans, cars, and miscellaneous medical expenses.
If you are like we were, you probably went to college and you probably have some sort of vehicle loan. Statistically speaking, an average household has over a $130k of debt. While this does include mortgage loans, it is still a ton of money!
I’m actually not here to tell you that any of those things are bad. Instead, my goal is to share with you why we decided that debt was not something we wanted and how that has impacted our life in extremely positive ways.
This post is a follow up to an original article called How to Destroy Debt and Live a Better Life (In A Camper) that we wrote for M$M on August 24th, 2015. The article was all about our plan to destroy our debt in 11 months. At the time of writing the post, we had paid off $17,000 of debt by implementing some very simple strategies, which we covered in the post.
The crazy thing about our story is that while it is cool (bias recognized), it’s not all that hard to do. Since writing about our story and getting plugged into the personal finance blogging world, we’ve found that there are a ton of people that have taken extreme steps to destroy their debt.
These stories are a huge inspiration and I encourage you to seek them out.
But first, let’s do a quick recap.
In June 2014, my wife Jen and I fell madly in love and the rest was history. We did the normal things: got married, went on a nice beach honeymoon, and came back home to jobs and the realities of life.
Don’t get me wrong, our life wasn’t bad by any means. It was just time for what many millennials call “adulting”.
A part of being an adult is to take money seriously and plan for your long-term goals. The kicker was that when we started to think about our finances as a newly married couple, we got really stressed! I think most people believe that once you’re married, you must have everything figured out.
Honestly….this could not be farther from the truth for us at that time.
Talking about money was one of “those” conversations for us. We wanted to avoid talking about it altogether because we knew that we would become frustrated with our lack of options and lack of plans.
If you are like us, you have dreams. You have things you want to accomplish. Unfortunately, dreams often take money. So, we often avoid talking about the realities of those dreams because of the stress they can bring to our lives.
BUT…AVOIDING YOUR FINANCES DOES NOT MAKE THEM ANY BETTER
We knew that we didn’t want to continue pretending that our financial situation was alright. We decided to do something about it, and made a financial plan to get out of debt.
We decided that we wanted to live simply for a year to destroy all our debt by living in a camper.
Looking back, this decision was probably one of the best choices we have ever made. We spent a total of 11 months living in the camper to minimize our living expenses and throw most of our money towards our debt. We both worked decent paying jobs (nothing extraordinary) and stuck with our strategy.
At first, the experience was a little bit like camping. Naturally, since we both like camping, we loved living in the camper! This is what we call the “honeymoon” phase. Like any honeymoon phases, it did not last.
The honeymoon phase was quickly followed up by learning how to explain to people why we were living in a camper. We never quite mastered this conversation although everyone we told said that what we were doing was awesome and they wished they thought of that early in their marriage.
While hearing positive affirmations from friends, family, and random people on the internet is cool, it merits don’t go far enough to remove all the frustrations associated with living in a camper. Surprising, huh?
Within 4 months of starting our new adventure, we were in the “why are we doing this” stage. While we knew why we were doing it, the little things like lighting the pilot light on our hot water heater during storms, running out of hot water and taking cold showers in the middle of the winter, and emptying our black water tank on a weekly basis were real frustrations that tested us!
These things and many more, presented obstacles in our path to becoming financially free from debt. I want to share something with you though…
You will always find reasons to not do what you know you should do. Don’t let those reasons hold you back. The best stories are when you do them anyway.
While these things were tough to overcome, the rewards have been awesome!
The journey was one of those stories that we will forever look back upon and smile because of how crazy it was and how much we accomplished.
That’s how big goals are in life. You always look back and say: “I’m glad I did that.”
The biggest reward for us is that today, we are debt free. We can do more of what we love. Things like travel, visiting family across the country, and saving for retirement can happen guilt and worry free now.
On a related note, because we are now out of debt – we’re going on a dream vacation to Banff, Canada this summer – completely paid for with guilt-free cash!
The single best thing that’s happened since we paid off our debt is that money has now become FUN to talk about!
Money represents freedom of what we can do instead of representing all the things we can’t do.
Here’s where it’s time for you to act: we hope you explore ways that you can rapidly pay off your debt. There are a ton of resources on how to accomplish this.
Whatever you decide to do, make your plan and stick to it. Don’t give up when it gets hard. Much like our story, you will encounter challenges that make you ask yourself, “why am I doing this?”
Just remember that you will always come up with reasons why you shouldn’t do something awesome but the best stories are when you do it anyway!
Please leave a comment and let me know. All ideas are welcome — especially the ones that seem a little crazy!
About the Author: Zack is an entrepreneur, freelance writer, and personal finance blogger at FreeUp. His blog is focused on personal finance and entrepreneurship. You can follow him on Twitter & Facebook or grab his Free 8+ Page Get Out of Debt Guide.