Debt Free is the Way to Be

A lot of people have either straight-up asked or side-skirted the topic about how we can afford to travel full-time.  First of all, we’re definitely not rich.  There’s not a huge nest egg from a successful business venture, inheritance or trust fund.

Our secret? No Debt.

In mid 2012, Kayla was a new CPA and I was around 15 months from leaving the Army.  Fortunately for an Army ROTC scholarship, I had no student loan debt from college.  Kayla had about $30k in student loan debt and we had around $10k in a car loan.  We decided that in my last year of the Army we were going to reduce our spending and pay off as much debt as possible.  We did this by [roughly] following Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover book and paid off the small debts first and then tackled the bigger ones.  It worked and about a year later, we were debt free.

If you don’t understand this, go binge-watch Game of Thrones.

Ever since we got rid of our debts, it was almost like a cloud was lifted and we were free to do whatever we wanted.  We had money saved up for awesome things like:

An amazing trip to Italy:

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Ischia, Italy

We [kind of whimsically] moved to Nashville and I didn’t have a job for four months:

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We bought a house.  So technically we have debt, but the value is going up each day in Nashville’s crazy market so it’s more of an investment.  We’re currently renting the house our and making some money each month:

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We booked flights Japan six weeks before going because Kevin & Mike found a deal:

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Hakone, Japan

We went to Patagonia and spent less money than most people who go to Florida:

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Torres del Paine, Patagoina

…and somewhere in the middle of it we incurred new debt.  We didn’t pay for Kayla’s Mazda CX-5 in cash because the dealer gave us 0% interest for three years.  0% interest?!?   That’s free money!  We kept our cash in our investment account and let it grow while paying off the loan.  We don’t consider the remaining $5,000 a debt because we have the money to pay it off, but we’re earning interest on it instead of paying the car off today.

The point is, when you don’t have hundreds of dollars of debt payments each month, you’re a lot more free to do what you want.  We don’t need a lot of income because we can control our expenses [to an extent].

Now we live in a motorhome that we paid for in cash (from selling the Jeep and then selling the Tundra).  We keep track of every dollar that we spend and put it into a monthly budget to make sure we’re living within our means.  I’ll get into the specifics in a different blog post and I plan on sharing some of our expenses.  Ultimately, if we aren’t making enough, we spend less or figure out a way to earn more.  Credit card debt is never the correct choice [but credit cards aren’t bad – more of that later].

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Bottom Line: If you’re stuck paying hundreds of dollars a month in debt payments, do yourself a favor and go to the library [it’s free!] and check out the Dave Ramsey book.  It’s a quick read because there is a lot of fluff, but get out of debt and give you the freedom to do what you want with your life.  The massacre in Las Vegas this week is a heavy reminder that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.

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