After looking over the dream I defined for myself before I started paying off debt, I realized that I made mighty progress on my dream in the last 2.5 years.
I started Dream Beyond Debt in January, 2015, as a way to keep myself accountable in my journey to pay off $48,000 of student loan debt. Before I got started, I defined my dream for my life, so I could keep my eye on what I was working toward, you know, besides being debt free. I made a list of six things I wanted for myself, and I felt like debt was keeping me from having them.
Well, the debt is gone. And I’m closer to having those things in my life than I ever thought possible. Seriously, I was just thinking about how different my life looks now than it did 2.5 years ago, and I cannot believe how closely aligned my life is to the dream I defined when I started paying off the debt.
I had no idea when I started how I was going to do it. I thought of it as a grand experiment. I kept in mind, “Start, and the how will happen.” There is power in committing and then moving forward with that commitment in mind.
Here’s a look at what I wanted, and where I am in having it.
I bought a house, with a mortgage, in April, 2016. It is not my dream home, but it’s got great light. It’s in a lovely neighborhood. The floors are beautiful and the yard is big. It does not have a basement, and it is a little further north than I wanted to be. But, as I watch the neighborhood I originally wanted become something completely different, I’m thinking this place ain’t so bad. It’s got everything I need. It’s cozy. And it would make a terrific rental.
I currently owe A LOT. If I wanted to own a house outright, I might as well commit. If I could pay it off in a few years, then I’d have at least an extra $1,000 a month to invest. If I want to turn it into a rental, then all my tenant’s rent would become income. I’d only have to pay insurance and taxes. I’m way closer to realizing this dream than I was 2.5 years ago. I mean, now I have a house. I just have to pay it off.
I’m still hiking, but a thru-hike isn’t my current priority. I am slowly accumulating gear, though. I have a tent and a backpack. As a matter of fact, I’m backpacking through the UK this summer. It’s not the Pacific Crest Trail, but I’ll be walking a lot. I’ll be hiking a lot. And I’ll be carrying everything I need with me.
Well, I’m traveling. This summer, I go to the UK. It’s not on my original list of travel obsessions, but I’m pretty excited anyway. When I backpacked through Europe right after college, I thought I’d be taking a trip like that every few years. Instead, I traveled extensively throughout North America. I didn’t cross the pond again…until now.
And I’m not going into debt to go to the UK. I’ll be teaching online while I’m traveling. I’ll be working from anywhere. It wouldn’t be possible if I still had student loan debt dangling over my head. I mean, I’m sure I could have made a minimum payment, but it would have bothered me. A lot. Now I get to travel, debt free, and without taking on more debt. I’ll be earning my trip while I take it. Two and a half years ago, it seemed out of reach. Today, it’s my reality.
I haven’t made a big contribution to a dog rescue yet, but I do take excellent care of my two rescue dogs. I dog sit for my friend regularly, and I’m learning the ins and outs of nonprofit life by volunteering for two different nonprofits in my town. This may turn out to look differently than I originally thought. I may just always have my own rescue dogs…nah, I’ll donate money, too. It doesn’t have to have my name on it. I can support someone else’s rescue efforts. I still care about the cause.
I am actively working on a manuscript. Like, I’m drafting it. Every day, I write a little toward my memoir, and in working on that particular manuscript, I’m getting fresh ideas for one of the other books I’ve been meaning to write. Something about the act of blogging has helped move me in the direction of actually writing. Without writing regularly about my financial life, I’m not sure I could write regularly about my farmhouse life. I’ve never felt more sure of my ability to do it. In the 2.5 years since I defined the dream, I’ve pitched the memoir at a writers conference, made several lists of scenes to include, and started to actively write those scenes.
I’ve come a long way since the day I published that very first blog post on Dream Beyond Debt. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had no idea how my life would change. It’s maybe the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I’m continuing the work here on amanda-page.com. Stick around to see me pay off this mortgage, own a house outright, travel, work from anywhere, and write this book.
Has paying off debt moved you closer to your dreams? Has blogging?