Here it goes…

It seems like everyone online is writing their debt free story. Some people are way ahead and debt is just a foggy memory, and some are half way through, beating their debt a day at a time… the stories are pretty inspiring. I love reading about how we can be in control of our money, we can choose to be intentional with it.

I’ve really struggled with the idea of sharing our debt free story. It’s out of the ordinary, and I’m afraid of how it will be received. I’m so new to the whole blogging thing and I really want to help people but I guess I’m worried that people will think I don’t have any real understanding of what trouble with money is about when I say this: I’ve never been in debt.

Ok now it’s out there. Please don’t leave! No one gave me a million dollars when I turned 18 and set me up for life. We are debt free because we decided not to be in debt.

Sure, when we got married we figured we would get a mortgage. But it turns out that a waitress and a 23 year old immigrant to Canada with no credit history couldn’t actually qualify for a mortgage in 2010 (the year after the whole terrible mortgage-related world wide recession). Bummer. But in hindsight, not bummer.

By the way, we never really thought of a mortgage as “debt”. I still don’t. Mortgages are like an investment, one that we wanted to make. One day we might get one. (Personally I think you could see a student loan the same way. We don’t happen to have those either, because I never went to university and G did college in England where the government paid for his education.)

Related: 6 Habits of People Who Stay Debt Free

A debt free life

So we were (in a way) blessed to begin our married life with no student debt, no credit card debt, and no mortgage or car payments to make. We decided we would keep it that way.  I have (and do) live the frugal lifestyle. Sometimes to the extreme.

I’m hopeful that through this blog I can share the hows and whys of our frugal lifestyle in a way that can inspire you to know that the frugal lifestyle is not a punishment. It’s an opportunity.

We decided we would never have a new car. (For the past five years I have driven a 1999 Lumina that has a smashed in front end and more dents than I can count. Sometimes the knobs on the radio fall off when I hit 120 km/hr. But we got it for $2500 when it only had 70,000 km on it, because, well, smashed in front end.)

We stopped going to clubs (drinking out is expensive) and we hardly go to restaurants. I shop second hand as much as I can… for everything! Almost all our furniture is second hand. 5 years ago we thought we might buy matching night stands – and we’ve still never been able to justify it. (G has an old one that my parents weren’t using anymore, I have a funky old chair that holds my lamp and alarm clock.)

We never spend money just because it’s there. It’s a decision we made and we’ve stuck to it. It has kept us debt free, and we have reaped wonderful rewards from it.

Related: Bad Money Habit You Need to Quit Now

That frugal living commitment allowed us to build a (very small) house with money we saved. Neither of the toilets in it came from the store. Seriously, I am so cheap that I “found” toilets that had been paid for but weren’t being used. We have gorgeous red oak floors… because that’s what was on clearance when we were floor shopping. Building our tiny house was an exercise in frugal living. But owning our home is an amazing reward of frugal living.

It allowed us to save enough money to take six months off of life and travel around the world. It’s allowed us to take two vacations per year, every year, and still put away money for retirement.

Living frugally has allowed us to live comfortably, even when work is scarce and money is tighter than usual. (Which is the current situation, what with the Canadian economy the way it is. But we aren’t suffering.)

It has allowed me to work part time, and to use my free time to focus on things that I enjoy – like spending the afternoons with family or taking time for the gym (or learning to blog).

Living frugally (and debt-free) has taught me to enjoy the simple life, and be grateful for what I have in ways I never imagined. The sacrifices don’t feel like sacrifices anymore, they feel like gifts. I like my funky chair nightstand.

I know this debt free story isn’t a “normal” one, one that will inspire you to pay off $138,000.00 in 11 months, but I hope it can give you a goal. Or maybe a new way to look at your frugal lifestyle (that you might feel forced into or resentful of) and learn to appreciate it. Living a simple, frugal life is not a punishment, it’s an opportunity for you to learn about what really matters and to be grateful for what you have. (Ok, and also an opportunity to pay off $138,000.00 in debt in 11 months. But still not a punishment.)

Related: What’s the Big Deal About Being Debt Free?

Debt Free