What Does It Feel Like To Be Totally Debt Free?

I am the type of person who really loves having goals and something to look forward to. When I was in the process of paying off my credit card debt, I was so incredibly motivated. It was actually fun to throw money at it every month. I loved seeing the numbers dwindle and eventually go to zero. It was almost like a game, like the ultimate challenge to myself.

Right now, I am involved in the Yakezie Challenge, and I am keeping a spreadsheet of my ranking and the changes it has made over the past few weeks. (I am seriously obsessed with spreadsheets. It’s an illness!) Once again, I feel excited and motivated. I know the goal is in sight, and I am looking forward to reaching it. It’s not the same as becoming debt free, but it has the same feeling and the same momentum of getting inspired and excited about something and watching it come to fruition.

I can tell you that when I finally paid of that last credit card, I was euphoric! I remember feeling like I could do absolutely anything. I couldn’t believe that my budget spreadsheet said ZERO in the credit card category. I gained back $500 a month in my budget that I could do whatever I wanted with! Of course, I knew the right thing to do was to snowball it and start working on my student loans.

Yet, when I started to pay off my student loans, a funny thing happened. I thought I would have incredible momentum to conquer them. After all, I’m a super motivated person, especially when I put my mind to something. Yet, because my husband has six figures worth of student loans, it feels like I’m trying to climb a mountain without any gear. As many blog friends around me knock out their debt left and right, I feel like blogs wont even exist anymore (blasphemy!) by the time I pay off all of my husband’s medical school loans.

So, this time around, I am really lacking that drive and that motivation to get going, because it seems like the end goal is so very far away. I know that every little bit helps, but since my husband is still in school, the debt keeps growing.

Ultimately, I do remember what it felt like to be credit card debt free, but it seems like a distant memory now that I am focused on our student loans. Perhaps I can break it into smaller loans and work on my momentum that way instead of viewing it as one giant current I’m trying to swim against (lots of nature references today!) Either way, I’m hoping something will inspire me soon, so I can have that great debt-free feeling once again!

Are you debt free? Come on tell us: how does it feel? Is it everything you hoped it would be or do you feel kind of lost now that your goal has been reached?

**Lance’s Two Cents** We have a long way to go on Tori’s student loans so I definitely know how you feel with the huge student loan debt. We hope it feels pretty awesome, but more importantly it’ll free up cash flow to enjoy on other things!

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About Catherine Alford

Catherine Alford is a personal finance freelance writer who received a B.A. from The College of William and Mary and an M.A. from Virginia Tech. She enjoys sharing her adventures on her blog, www.BudgetBlonde.com.


  1. Keep going, you will eventually get there. One thing you could do it make it a game to see how much interest you are no longer paying from month to month. Figure out how much interest you are paying every day one month and how much it was reduced the following month. If you project those numbers over time, they add up and can be very motivating. Remember, you want compound interest to eventually work for you rather than against you like it is doing today. Best wishes on finishing off that debt!

  2. FMM had great advice. We have a massive amount of debt to conquer as well. We were starting to get discouraged at how long this road to debt free will be, but focusing on how much less interest we are paying each month has been a huge help in motivating us. You can do it, Cat!!!

  3. Renee S says:

    I am debt free and it is pretty great. I had a very small amount of student loans ~4,000 and I paid it off super fast because I wanted all of my money to be mine. I love that I can focus only on goals for my future (retirement, buying a house). I love that I have the freedom to purchase anything that I want (within reason) and that it would be mine. It’s hard to write about this because there are so many people in debt…I try and just keep quiet about it esp because a lot of my friends have ton of debt.

    Keep pushing forward and take the advice of your other commenters. You will be debt free soon enough and it will be glorious 🙂

  4. We’re debt free aside from our mortgage. It feels great!

    We are working on paying off our mortgage as well….we’ve still got a little ways to go =)

  5. Anne @ Unique Gifter says:

    You can do it! Just think of how much better you’re doing because you aren’t using more loans this semester! Way to go you!
    I like the suggestions above of seeing the amount of interest per day that you are paying drop. You’re probably around $20 right now I’m guessing (100K @ 7%) and if you pay off $500 each month, you’re reducing your daily total by 10 cents a day!

  6. I am practically debt free! I have a very small mortgage (less than $50K) and car loan (less than $15K). Both will be paid off within the next 3-4 years. Very little debt provides a lot of choices.

  7. I know the feeling. When I first started paying off my $38,000 in student loans and car loan debt, I felt like nothing I could do what going to even make a dent in that mountain. Now that I’ve got around $8,700 left to go, I realize that all of that hard work is finally going to pay off! Keep plugging away, set small goals and celebrate when you achieve them (my first goal was to pay off $7,500 in principle) and eventually you’ll get where you want to go!

  8. Kyle @ Debt Free Diaries says:

    I love the idea of breaking up the student loans into their respective smaller loans. Hey, give yourself as many little wins as possible along the way to your giant win of being completely debt free!

  9. That’s a great idea, breaking it down into smaller pieces so you can celebrate small victories along the way! We have a mortgage and an auto loan but that is our only debt.

  10. Student Loans are on everybody’s mind now a days, just have to keep on paying it down. It might serve you best to use the 500 dollars to cash flow the upcoming semesters instead of adding new debt. Much luck.

  11. I agree with you that you need a goal so that you get the motivation! I just paid off my student debt. So I am debt free for now! With the burden off my shoulders, I feel so much lighter! Thanks for sharing~

  12. Stephen says:

    It feels like yesterday’s expenses are finally behind you.

    • That is one way of putting it! I bet that feels great too!

      • Stephen says:

        It does, what I’ve finished anyway. Still have the house to go. If all goes well and the house is paid off in two years as planned, my combined bills will be about $325 per month, inflation notwithstanding. But it still wont be a free for all. I’ll need to save if want to afford future expenses instead finance them.

  13. Hello all, $80,000 in student loan debt finally paid off, and the car. Still no mortgage but working towards owning a home soon, I have to be honest – it feels surreal and during my 20’s i was mostly check to check. I remember working in NYC and debating if I had enough money for lunch sometimes haha. My have things changed, it feels like a huge relief to only have a cable bill, electric, car insurance but i’ll never forget what it felt like to owe CC/student loan debt. Just thankful, and I will say to all those working towards it – little by little. I actually paid off my biggest CC cards first which is different than alot of people recommend. I started with the $5,500 AMEX and worked on the other cards ($4,000, $2,000, $1,500, $500) in that order. Start with the big ones first I recommend because those are the hardest to look at it. God bless and keep going!

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