I paid off my car loan on Monday. It was a super exciting day for me: I’ve been in debt since the age of 17, when I went off to college and signed those student loan papers. Twenty years later, I’m FINALLY debt free.
Everyone reading this blog knows what a big deal that is. Whether you’ve ever had debt or not, everyone in the personal finance blogosphere knows what a big deal those big financial milestones are. The sense of accomplishment. Freedom. Opportunity.
But in real life?
In real life, becoming debt free was kind of lonely. There wasn’t anyone to celebrate the victory with me, or to understand how I felt. In fact, there was hardly anyone I even wanted to tell!
I told a co-worker, as an explanation of why I was getting Starbucks for lunch. I just said that I had paid off the car, without mentioning the bigger financial picture. The girls in the office as a group have been discussing car loans a lot lately: One co-worker is planning to purchase a new, luxury vehicle. With a big loan, of course. The co-worker I told about paying off the loan bought a new car a few months before I did. She’s already looking in to purchasing a new vehicle, but her husband has told her she has to wait until her current vehicle is paid off. She’s lamented how she’ll be waiting four more years. Despite her husband’s request, she’s already pricing the vehicle she wants, and has contacted a dealer regarding the trade in value of her current vehicle.
I mentioned it to Bryan as we were making dinner. In an ideal world, he would have known before I even made the payment. But our world isn’t ideal, and we sometimes struggle with money discussions. We’re both in very different places financially. I’ve mentioned several times in the past that I would be paying off my car loan this year. His response is to usually question why I’m in such a hurry. While he marvels at my financial situation, and how I’m able to stretch the amount I make (despite making much less than him), he doesn’t really want to talk too much about it. Part of it is an old-fashioned attitude about money: As the woman, my money is my money, and his money is “ours”. It makes him uncomfortable that he’s had to rely on me so much financially in the past year and a half. I also worried that I was “kicking him while he’s down”: He’s just getting back to work, and just starting to get things back on track financially. And here I am, going above and beyond. Becoming debt free. Having extra money to worry about.
In real life, it was just another day, save the Starbucks and the confused looks. I felt lonely, and weird, and apprehensive about telling anyone.
Thank goodness I have my online life, where everyone understands the excitement. Where I can proclaim loudly (or type in all caps):
I’M DEBT FREE!!!
- Cindy W.