What it Really Took for Me to Become Debt Free

Years ago I made a commitment to myself that I would be mortgage free by the time I was 40.

Just two months prior to my 40th birthday last year, I became officially debt free.

No more mortgages.

Zero balance on all credit lines.

Zero balance on all credit cards.

No margin on stock trading accounts.

It’s easy to look at that and want it, but the truth is that it hasn’t been easy.

It all started, when I was just a few months away from my 20th birthday. I bought my first home with my then fiancé.

I was only making about $24k a year at the time. My partner, a little bit more. We only had $20…yes you read that right…$20 extra beyond our basic monthly living expenses for food and shelter.

I remember many times putting groceries back at the checkout if I accidentally went over my budget. Zero room for error.

There was once, my good friend got married and I was so embarrassed I couldn’t afford to buy her a present, so I declined the invitation to her reception. #friendFAIL

When my friends were all partying, going out and spending money, I stayed in because I couldn’t afford to go.

It got a little old, so my husband and I did everything we could to make a few extra dollars….

Scrubbing out mouldy trailers to make a small profit, taking on extra jobs, working any overtime hours that were available, throwing my hat in the ring for anything I could do to bring in some additional money.

We sacrificed everything in the short term.

In one year we made a $50k profit on our home and chose to get an upgrade. Our incomes grew a little and we were used to the sacrifice of just getting by.

We took a big leap of faith and bought an older home on a 5 acre farm.

And the same thing happened, we were still stretched to the max. I even had to get a loan from my mom to make the down payment….in exchange for her living in our basement suite rent free for a year…when we could have really used that extra cash to stay afloat.

I remember in the dead of winter our makeshift water line from our artesian well froze up and we had no water. We couldn’t afford to fix it and we went to the local pool to shower and fill up water jugs so we could flush the toilets….until we saved enough money to drill a new well.

Yep, not pretty.

Over time in that house, both our incomes grew, we invested in the stock market and the value of our property sky rocketed.

Tables really turned and life was starting to look bright!

Then came the market crash of 2008, our investments got cut in half, the property value tanked, and we were getting a divorce.

I had been hiding in an abusive marriage, until one day I hit a breaking point and had the courage to leave.

I remember showing up at my mom’s house, in a puddle of embarrassment, with a suitcase in one hand and my two dogs on a leash in the other, asking if I could move back home.

I went from living a rich life to being broke living with my mom!

Yep, not my best moment.

My monthly paycheck went from $16k a month to $600 in just one month. I was terrified. I felt like I lost everything overnight.

I lived with my mom for two years.

So how did I go from THAT to re-building wealth, becoming debt free and being able to amp up my capacity to give to meaningful causes?

More on that tomorrow…

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