Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Debt Free by 40!

(Picture has nothing to do with post, but pictureless post are kinda boring)

Free by forty has become the motto around here.  Jeff and I came to the conclusion this past weekend that we're ready to make being completely debt free a serious goal.  We have about $40,000 in debt and we'd like to pay it off in the next 29 months.  Also, twenty-nine months from today I will be forty hence the motto "free by 40!"  When we first made plans to build this house we knew it would get rid of a large portion of our debt on top of fulfilling the dream of living in the country, now we're ready to go a step farther and get rid of all our debt a.s.a.p. 

As we did the math to work out a manageable budget (hopefully) it began to look like it would take a little over two years to rid ourselves of these debts so the timing of my 40th birthday is just coincidental...or is it? ;)  Plus, the motto has a nice ring to it.  Say it with me, "free by forty."  Plus if we fail by only a little we can keep this motto for another couple of months till Jeff's fortieth birthday.

We'll be using the cash envelope system that most people are familiar with.  For those of you that aren't, it means you're supposed to designate every penny of every paycheck to a category then take the budgeted amount of cash and stuff it in an envelope with a label specifying its purpose.  For example, if you need $100 per pay period for gas you'd take a $100 cash and put in an envelope that's labeled "Gas."  The idea is once it's empty that's it, there is no more and you can't use checks, debt cards nor, most definitely, credit cards.  And it might also mean you're walking to work till the next payday if you're not careful.  For Jeff, that's 70 miles a day so he'd better really mind his p's and q's and spend wisely because I'm willing to make the sacrifice if necessary. 

I really, really, really love budgets!  Seriously!  It's one of the things I do for fun in my spare time...make imaginary budgets for my family to live on.  I even occasionally push labeled envelopes full of cash at Jeff only to find that, despite what the label said and my prior lecturing about the moneys purpose, he thought it was money free for the spending...on whatever he wanted.  Labels and lectures only work if everyone is on board and this time around (as opposed to the other 50 times) it was Jeff's idea so lecturing wasn't even necessary!  Oddly enough, he was hesitant to tell me about this idea of his for fear that I'd laugh and scoff at it!  Just who has he been married to all these years?  I guess he hears what he wants to hear and that's probably why he's such a positive person.  Thankfully, he also has a really good sense of humor.  (Don't you, Sweet pea?♥♥♥)

Back to the budget.  Maybe living on a budget sounds awful to some people, but just think of all the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be saved!  That should have been motivation enough but I think we both got used to our debts being just another bill we have to pay every month and learned to become immune to the reality of our debts.  Another aspect of a budget besides paying off debts and avoiding paying thousands and thousands of dollars in interest unnecessarily, is the freedom a budget offers.  On a budget, you get to decide the categories you need to spend money on and how much money you want to spend (within your paycheck, of coarse) and then you're free to spend it completely guilt free!  If your budget includes paying down debt you will most likely have to make some sacrifices, but if you have debts hanging on your back you're already committed to making sacrifices for a lot of years to come.

For us, most of the sacrificing will mean that the house is going on hold for 29 months.  *Gasp!*   Well, I've lived in it for 30 months unfinished so I think I'll survive it for another 29 just fine.  The siding will get finished since we already have the materials, but that's probably about it.  I'll have my five dollars a week that I can spend guilt free on anything I want which could easily include paint and fabric here and there, two of my favorite things to buy, but all major projects will be out of the picture for a while.  It's actually given Jeff a little bit of relief because he's felt completely overwhelmed by everything he sees that needs to be finished.  Poor fella, he's been carrying a huge load on his shoulders.

As far as the nitty-gritty details, I might share some of that eventually because it would probably be an encouragement to someone, but for now I'm just planning to ride it out for a few months to see if our budget is doable and, honestly, to see if we'll stick to it.  I always have that negative little voice in my head telling me I'm fixing to fail just as soon as I announce I'm going to do something and I think it's easier to fail privately than it is to fail publicly.  Then again, putting it all out there also gives me a since of accountability and keeps me honest with myself.


  1. I think being debt free by 40 is a wonderful goal to aspire to. You also learned a valuable lesson: The husband has to think all the good ideas are his! ;)

  2. PLEASE keep us updated, as my husband and I are starting the same journey. Reading your post was like reading my own thoughts. It would be great encouragement to be able to read posts on this. Thank you!

  3. Thanks Tassie! I think it would be good for us too to keep people updated on what we're doing and how it's going.

  4. The envelope system is doable and addicting. Around 20 years ago, I had a dream of building a home and no money to accomplish it. My mother suggested I use the envelope system and within two years, we broke ground on a new home. A small home, but still, I saw my goal of a new home because of the envelope system. Like they say, Cash is King, you stop wasting your money. So Good Luck, you will be amazed before you are half way through.

  5. Celeste,
    I spent my professional career in Manhattan creating and managing wealth. Debt free by forty is doable, if you are not funding college tuition. Look forward to reading about your progress!
    Your Friend,

  6. Thanks Petie, Deborah, and S! I appreciate the encouragement so very much!

  7. You go girl! I love it! We have used the envelope system too and it works really well. It does require cooperation from both to make it work. But, it is worth it in the end. Congratulations on your decision.
    Living simply below your means will bring great satisfaction.

  8. I look forward to your progress. I just started following you. I hope you'll come to visit me too.

  9. Hi Celeste,

    Just stopped in to say "Hi."

    Wondered how you are.


  10. I agree with you - living within a budget shouldn’t sound awful. I’ve always been a fan of it and it can’t be awful if it helps you manage your finances effectively. Saving money has always been the key to get out of or prevent debt. We can save wisely if we only spend for necessary needs. =)

    Jaden Allred

  11. So, it has been almost a year... How is the free by forty going? Would love to hear an update!

  12. Marisha here putting in a request to my dear sweet cousin for an update on the ole abode. Por favor!!!

  13. Okay, since you said please in Spanish. Ha ha! I do actually have some updates I've been planning on posting soon so thanks for the request, cuz!

  14. Lol...actually its Latin Americas little secret, end any request with "Por Favor" and you'll get it! That's how Steve asked me to marry him ;-) Haha! Okay, okay, its not true, but I really do want an update! Can't wait to read it!