Debt-Free Living – Smart Choices for Personal Independence

Perhaps you’ve hit some hard times and find yourself struggling to pay the monthly bills, or you’ve been chasing interest rates on those loans for as long as you can remember.  Today I’m going to talk about debt-free living and how you can pursue this lifestyle with a few simple steps.

Debt-free living is a life not defined by paying off credit cards, loans, and other debts.  Benefits of debt-free living include less stress, better credit score, and saving money.  Types include mortgage only, no credit card debt, and biblical.  

Do you feel like you’re drowning in debts and can’t get your head above water?  Are you looking for a way to pay off your loans and have a more sustainable lifestyle? I’m going to discuss how to’s and tips for growing wealth and techniques for becoming debt-free. 

What Is Debt-Free Living?

Debt-free living refers to a financial lifestyle that eliminates all forms of debt, including credit card debt, personal loans, car loans, student loans, and mortgages. Debt-free living is achieved when one has paid off all outstanding debts and is not reliant on borrowing money to maintain their standard of living. This financial approach allows people to live within their means, free from the burden of interest payments and the stress that comes with debt.

A Man Holding a Simple Black Wallet - Debt-Free Living - Gone Minimal
A Man Holding a Simple Black Wallet

Benefits of Debt-Free Living

Debt-free living can take a bit of work to achieve, but there are many benefits to reap.  The benefits of debt-free living include the following:

  1. Less stress
  2. Fewer monthly payments (if any)
  3. Better credit score
  4. More money in the bank
  5. Less work hours required
  6. More free time
  7. More joy
  8. Better quality of life

Is it possible to pay off all debt and achieve all of these benefits?  Yes — and there are several different ways to do this.  Let’s look at various types of debt-free living to guide you.

Types of Debt-Free Living

What does debt-free living look like?  With or without mortgage and credit card debt, and even by a certain age, debt-free living looks pretty good.  Read on and see what you think.

There’s a little less work involved in living credit card debt-free, depending on your level of spending

Living Debt-free Except for Mortgage

Living debt-free except having a mortgage takes some extra work to achieve, but it also takes spending your money wisely.  In this scenario, there are no car loans, no student loans, no credit card balances, and only the monthly mortgage.  And that can really simplify bill paying and help with other monthly expenses like groceries and gas!

Living Credit Card Debt-Free

There’s a little less work involved in living credit card debt-free, depending on your level of spending. You may still have car loans and a mortgage, but you have enough money in the bank each month to pay for your bills and groceries without using credit cards. 

A Simple Credit Card Purchase - Debt-Free Living - Gone Minimal
A Simple Credit Card Purchase

Researchers Quispe-Torreblanca, Stewart, Gathergood, and Loewenstein found that consumers will use credit cards for durable (for example, furniture) and non-durable (for example-, vacations and gas) depending upon incentives as well as income.  It’s a great habit to avoid using credit cards to purchase everyday things unless you pay them off at the end of each month and earn incentives!

Biblical Debt-Free Living

In following the Bible’s teachings, you can achieve debt-free living.  Biblical debt-free living is about recognizing sources of food and supply, turning to God for strength and support, and keeping in mind that we reap what we sow.  By practicing generosity and caring for others, we can live within our means and be blessed.  Avoid using the money you don’t have (credit cards); use cash, and you’ll see the difference between what you want and what you need.

Debt-Free by 40

When we are in our 20s, most of us are going to college, taking out student loans, getting married and buying homes, and working part-time jobs to get by until we graduate and start our careers.  We can rack up a great deal of debt in that time, so debt-free by 40? 

A Woman Simply Relaxing - Debt-Free Living - Gone Minimal
A Woman Simply Relaxing

Yes — it can be done.  Be reasonable about taking out student loans, pay as you go, find reasonable repayment programs, improve your credit score to qualify for lower interest rates, and pay as much into your loans and debts as you can.  Focus on cars as transportation rather than status symbols, practice minimalism, and work hard to become debt-free by 40.

Debt-Free and Wealth

They may sound like completely different things, but debt-free and wealth can go hand in hand.  Let’s look at how these relate and can work for you.

Prioritizing needs over wants and paying off debt can make you truly wealthy.

Is Being Debt Free the New Rich?

Yes — especially if you have assets.  Financial security is having no loans, having cash on hand, and living within your means.  It does take a great deal of work, wise investing, and having strong assets like a home and property. 

It also takes little steps, including making your coffee at home rather than going to the coffee shop, doing your yard work rather than paying a company, buying store brand instead of name brand, and avoiding using credit cards.  Also, putting money in savings each month, especially in an account with a good interest rate, and letting it grow over time to increase your wealth.

A Man Cutting Grass - Debt-Free Living - Gone Minimal
A Man Cutting Grass

Living Debt-Free and Truly Wealthy

Prioritizing needs over wants and paying off debt can make you truly wealthy.  When you pare down the debt and focus on your needs (and not what you don’t have), you can find true happiness and be truly wealthy-in life.  Working just enough to pay the monthly bills and stash some in savings is much better than working overtime to pay off credit card debt for all the unnecessary items that take up space!  Focus on family rather than extra fluff.

Simple Debt-Free Living

Simple debt-free living really can be just that — simple.  You don’t need to purchase all of the latest trends or buy fancy coffee every morning (or even every week).  Don’t compare your life to others — you’ll never find happiness (or debt-free living) that way! 

How to Be Debt Free

According to Mark D. Weinstein of Cedarville University, being debt-free is an indicator of financial stability and being a good steward of available resources.  So, how do you do it?  How do you become debt-free?  Let’s discuss some tips and resources.

Debt-Free Living tips

  1. Be thrifty!  
  2. Buy store brands and use coupons.  
  3. Pay with cash or debit rather than credit.  
  4. Buy the things you need to survive and be safe, not the trendy stuff.  
  5. Grow vegetables in your backyard.  
  6. Plant a fruit tree.  
  7. Life close to your work to save on gas or work from home.  
  8. Take a staycation rather than a fancy cruise.  
  9. Make your own coffee.  
  10. Cancel the cable tv and pare down the streaming services.

Debt-Free Living Books

Need more assistance in finding your way out of debt?  Many resources are available to help you find your way to debt-free living.  From living debt-free in the current economy to steps to becoming debt-free, simple ways to pay off debt and loans, practical guides, and even budgeting books for high school students — the only thing stopping you from learning more is the price of the book (and they’re all affordable at under $20)!

In this helpful video, learn the five main attributes of debt-free people and start your journey to living a financially free life.

Related Insights

Is it possible to live a debt-free life?

Yes, it is possible to live a debt-free life.  It’s about prioritizing needs over wants, living within your means, saving credit for emergencies, and paying off those high-interest loans.  You can do it!

At what age should you be debt-free?

You can be debt-free at any age-depending on your lifestyle.  Whether in your 30s after you’ve paid off student loans or in your 60s after you’ve paid off the mortgage, making it a priority to save money and pay off debt can be done at almost any age.

Is being debt-free smart?

Being debt-free is smart if you want to save money and not worry about paying monthly bills.  Starting with some debt in early adulthood can work to grow your credit score which pays off in the long run.  Monthly payments with high-interest rates are not smart and take a lot of work!

What Debt-Free Living Means to Real People

I asked friends and family what debt-free living means to them. Does it mean living without big loans, without credit card debt, only paying for things with cash, no student loans/personal loans? Here is a table representing the percentages of their responses and what I learned from the poll.

Meaning of Debt-Free
19% of people polled felt that having no credit card debt means to be living debt-free
9% of people polled felt that paying off their student loans means to be living debt-free
14% of people polled felt that avoiding credit card debt means to be living debt-free
10% of people polled felt that not taking out loans means to be living debt-free
5% of people polled felt that paying loans off early means to be living debt-free
9% of people polled felt that having no mortgage means to be living debt-free
10% of people polled felt that not buying things they don’t need means to be living debt-free
14% of people polled felt that creating a financial plan means to be living debt-free
10% of people polled felt that having manageable debt means to be living debt-free
What Real People Feel it Means to be Living Debt-Free

Other Resources:

Final Thoughts

Debt-free living is possible if you set your mind to it.  It takes perseverance, hard work, prioritization, and patience, but anyone can do it.  If you can focus on the things that really matter and the things you actually need, you can avoid racking up the credit card debt and the high-interest rates that are bogging you down.  So what’s your plan for paying off the debt?

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