How (and Why) I Dumped All My Debt Before 30

Getting Mad About Your Debt Is Step Number One

My name is Derek Sall, and I dumped $109,000 of debt before the age of 30. I now have no credit card debt, no car loans, no student loans, and my house is completely paid for. My friends think I’m weird, my coworkers think I’m just stupid (after all, what about the tax credit that I’m forgoing by paying off my house? Don’t even get me started on this!), but I’m still smiling because I don’t have a single payment on anything.

My salary is higher than the national average and my largest expense category in my budget is food: $200 a month. Pretty crazy, huh?

How This Crazy Journey Started

I was fresh out of college, living on my own in another state, and money was a lot tighter than I expected. I was barely treading water on my bills and after a few unexpected breakdowns with my car, I realized that my finances were heading toward the negative. I was sweating bullets and then it happened….I got that dreaded piece of mail from Direct Loans – it was my student loan bill.

Ugh. My stomach was off even before that parcel came in the mail; now it felt like I had just swallowed a ten pound weight. “How much do I owe? What if I can’t pay it? What will happen?” My thoughts were all over the place and my anxiety was at an all-time high as I opened that letter. I pulled the piece of paper from the surrounding envelope and read the amount out loud:

“Seventy-five dollars.”

It doesn’t sound like a lot to many of you, but I knew already that I didn’t have the money. It was one of the worst feelings I’d ever had and I’ll never forget it (and plan to never experience it again). From that day forward, I vowed to get rid of all my debts and to never take on any consumer debt ever again.

The Debt Payoff and How I Did It

If you want to pay off your debts, I have found that it’s most effective to get emotional about it. If you aren’t visibly mad about your debt, then you likely won’t pay it off. I was both afraid and piping hot about my poor financial situation and was determined to pay it all off. That was step #1. Check. This, along with the other steps, is as follows:

  1. Get mad about your debt
  2. Believe that you can pay it off
  3. Create a budget
  4. Reduce all unnecessary expenses
  5. Increase your income
  6. Pay off your debts smallest to largest

Now that I was mad about my debt, I needed to actually believe that I could pay it off. Personally, my belief came from two areas. First, that I’ve always been able to accomplish what I put my mind to; and second, from reading blog posts and listening to podcasts from others who had done it. I knew that it was possible, so why not me? The belief was there, and it was now time to take action on this debt-free goal.

Next, I sat down and listed out all the details of my monthly expenses.

I had done this before, but this time I was doing it with passion, looking for any area that I could cut out or reduce, which would then allow me to aggressively pay off my debts. Quite quickly, I discovered that I could cut my cable, and then also reduce my car insurance, grocery bill, vacation expense, and phone service. I also worked hard to increase my income by working harder at my day job and starting a few different side businesses.

In the first 14 months, I paid off $18,000 worth of debt. In another 6 months, I paid off $21,000. Finally, I tackled my $70,000 mortgage (which had $54,500 left by this time) and aggressively paid that off in less than 12 months. I am 100% debt free and intend to stay that way for life.

Why I Live a No-Debt Lifestyle

Aside from the initial fear and discomfort I experienced early in life, why do I still choose to live a completely debt free life? I have three main reasons:

  1. Stress free life
  2. No volatile risk
  3. Can still become wealthy

My discretionary income used to be a hundred bucks at the end of the month with debt, now it’s thousands and allows me to stay completely relaxed in life. If my transmission drops out of my car or my roof blows off my house, no biggie, I’ll just pay for it. The ease that comes with debt freedom is fantastic.

With this large discretionary income, I can invest heavily for the future. Based on my ultra-low expenses, I now have the ability to purchase one rental house per year with cash, which would then pay me back $1,000 a month in rent. After 10 years, this will produce over $1,000,000 in equity and $140,000 a year in income. And the risk is practically zero because I never needed to borrow a cent!

I can’t stress it enough – being debt free is fantastic and totally worth the effort. Are you ready to work toward debt freedom today?

Derek Sall has been writing about personal finance for over five years at LifeAndMyFinances.com. As he continues to increase his wealth, many others are choosing to follow his advice by ditching their debts and increasing their passive income. Are you ready to make a change?

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Disclosure: This information is provided to you as a resource for informational purposes only.  It is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors.  Past performance is not indicative of future results.  Investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal.  This information is not intended to, and should not, form a primary basis for any investment decision that you may make. Always consult your own legal, tax or investment advisor before making any investment/tax/estate/financial planning considerations or decisions. 

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