Identifying My “Why” for Debt Freedom

Over the course of the past two years, I’ve had moments of pure debt paying intensity and moments of “why do I even bother?” binge shopping on pretty things and delicious food. It’s really difficult to keep going sometimes when all I want to do is forget about my debt and spend my money as I please. As such, I’ve been spending the last few months trying to identify my “why”. Why do I want to be debt free? What exactly is my motivation?


Besides the obvious not paying thousands of dollars in interest for the rest of my life, I have identified a few “whys” that I would like to share with you. Hopefully, you will be able to get an idea of your debt payoff motivation and use it when you are struggling.

1) I want to travel internationally. I have done my fair share of frugal traveling in the U.S. over the past 2 years, after 8 years of not traveling. And I’ve enjoyed it immensely. But honestly, I want to be able to travel overseas without guilt. On my short list, I want to visit Jordan, Turkey, Spain, Italy, and Germany. And there will be no sandwich packing involved, I travel to eat.

2) I want to start a family. That feels weird to declare, but I want to have 2 or 3 children AFTER I’m debt free. While I could technically have children before getting out of debt, I want the options that come along with debt freedom — namely the ability to work reduced or no hours when they are little, the option to save for their college education, and the freed up cash necessary to purchase a home when I am ready to stop renting and settle down.

3) I want to invest. There is something about investing while still in debt that is so difficult for me. Mostly because my highest interest rate is 6.55% and I may or may not be able to beat that in the stock market. Until I have wiped out my highest interest debt, I am putting off investing. So for now, I just have a whopping $5,000 in a Roth IRA. Try not to be jealous of my baller status…

4) I want to eat and drink better. Okay, I enjoy a cheap meal with a cheap bottle of wine, but I really want to explore a bit more upscale eating and drinking. It might sound shallow, but food and wine are incredibly important to me and I have no problem dropping a decent amount of income on them. And why not? Eating is one of the world’s greatest pleasures (that you can pay for legally, that is).

So those are my “whys” of the moment. When I am lapsing on debt payoff, I will remind myself of these four reasons to keep on keeping on.

What is your “why” for getting out of debt? How do you keep your “why” in perspective when all you want to do is spend?

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  1. Oktoberfest for the win! We ate so much delicious German food when we were there.

    Jordan is totally on my list of places to see, mostly just because I want to see Petra. I find that place fascinating. Unfortunately, since my father in law no longer lives in Dubai, the Middle East has dropped down on my list of places to see, but I’ll get there sooner or later.

    • Germany is #1 on my list! I can’t wait to try the beer, although I’ll probably be wasted off half a glass. My husband had a layover in Germany a couple years ago and he said 2 glasses and he was trashed!

      My husband has family and friends in Jordan, Palestine, and the U.A.E. (in Dubai) so we have plenty of places to stay :). I can’t wait to finally go to Jordan, if for no other reason than to meet my in-laws face to face (we Skype and chat online, but they haven’t been here and I haven’t been there!).

  2. I want to stop being stressed. I want to build my savings/investments. I want to have a large safety cushion because of my worry-wart mentality. I want to have some money to enjoy splurges – on travel, on food, etc. I want to get married debt-free.

    • You and me both, Alicia! I actually do pretty well without a large safety cushion (meaning I don’t need a lot of cash around, I would rather invest almost all of it), but it is still stressful to pay so much interest and have such high minimum payments due! I always pay over the minimum of course, but if we had a really bad month income-wise it would be crazy tight.

      I hope you can get married debt free and splurge to your heart’s content! Money is meant to be saved AND spent, so I can’t wait to do both :)

  3. Free time is the number one reason. What I do with that free time is another issue to figure out and will probably depend on where I’m at in life. It might be spent visiting family and friends in other states, it might be spend traveling, or at home with kids (whenever they happen). I hate going being limited by vacation hours or needing the hours to get by. I like the idea of being able to go where I want with my time.

    • Yeah, I’m not a fan of the traditional two weeks vacation thing, which is one of the reasons I’m trying this “working for myself” thing. I like taking days off whenever I want (within reason) and napping in the afternoon if I so choose.

  4. Great reasons! I’d love to indulge in more than the lowest of the line wine every so often too!!

  5. And there will be no sandwich packing involved, I travel to eat.
    ^ so do I. There’s nothing like experiencing the culinary cuisine of a foreign country. Although, unfortunately I’ve only been overseas twice – Malaysia and Turkey (be prepared to undo your jean button after a meal in Turkey)

    What is your “why” for getting out of debt?
    Similar reasons to yours, I’d like to buy a house & have a child before I’m 30, but I would also like to travel the globe before I have a mortgage and a dependent. Even after I have a child I would like to take 1 overseas trip annually.

    I also would like to contribute to my retirement so I can have a cushy later life :)

    • Yeah, this is my problem. I’m currently in debt, but after I’m out of it I want too much. Not “stuff” necessarily, but just too much out of life.

      I want to travel abroad to many different countries, save for retirement, and also have a child in my late 20s. Plus I want a house someday. How does one do everything? Priorities, schmiorities, I want it all!

  6. I agree with all but the family one. I want to travel, eat, drink and well, too! Traveling is a huge passion of mine and I feel like it’s on the back-burner. I am still traveling a bit, but ideally I’d travel every few months. I’d also like the freedom to take more risks, enjoy life, stress less, be more generous with friends.

    p.s. I think you’d be a bad-ass mom!

    • I’d like to hop around a few countries before kids and then keep traveling a little more local once they come for a couple years. Then back to international travel. Thankfully, Portland is an awesome freaking place to explore and discover new things (and eat new noms!).

      Thanks, dear :)

  7. says:

    I want to be out of debt because I want to sleep well at night. I want to travel, naturally, and I want to be able to go for a nice meal with lovely wine without the stress. If something breaks or I want a new whatever, I want to be able to get it/replace it without disruption.

    In short, I want balance, and with debt I am imbalanced.

    • Sounds heavenly! Replacing things without thinking too much about it is something I took for granted before, but now I desperately want that freedom.

  8. We have the same list! I’ve done everything broke (except for the family) and having done the same things with money-I’m never going back. Also, I DO want a family in the future and I don’t want to be broke when I have a kid.

    • Absolutely, Michelle! Having a family should be a blessing and a lot of debt or lack of money would just make things stressful.

  9. C The Writer says:

    Honestly, there is no real reason to pay off debt other than the fact that you borrowed money and it’s now your responsibility to pay it back.

    I want to pay my student loans because I’m tired of owing them, tired of thinking about them, and sick of them being there. I realize that due to my circumstances, this is not likely to happen for a long time, and I’m working toward being okay with that.

    I can travel, eat nice food, drink expensive wine, and invest without paying off my loans. It would be rather irresponsible, but the point is that I can if I want to. Luckily for me, I don’t want kids, so I don’t have to think about my debt burdening someone else who had nothing to do with it. Thank goodness for small favors, like being born without the drive to reproduce.

    • That’s correct. Legally, you are obligated to pay money back, I’m just looking for motivation to pay it back faster by paying well over the minimums :)

      My debt doesn’t typically stress me out too much. Like I can sleep at night without panicking about what I owe. The part that sucks for me is the things I cannot do because of it. It’s more of an annoyance than a stresser.

      I can definitely do those things (and I do in moderation) but I can do more of them once my debt is gone. And having the drive to have children is going to be pricey. I don’t think it has to cost the average $250k per child, but it will definitely be a nice chunk of cash. Your lack of desire to have children is going to save you big time!

      • C The Writer says:

        I’m also doing a good deed for the planet, since there are already too many people on it, and most people think that the only proper way to become a parent is to produce their own spawn.

        Good luck with that. Me, I’ll keep my money for myself and get a full night’s sleep. Based on your blog, you seem somewhat ambivalent about having kids, but I guess only you can determine that. *shrug*

        • Not ambivalent, just not planning on having them in the near future.

          Just like with anything else, you trade money for the things that are important to you. For me, that includes a family. I respect that others don’t have my same priorities and choose to spend (or save!) their money elsewhere.

          • C The Writer says:

            I really do wonder what it is in Western society that leads us to define “family” as requiring reproduction. As if people who choose not to have children don’t have a family.

            For me, it’s important to live life to the fullest, something that, unfortunately, can’t really be done while burdened with children. One advantage of my shitty, underpaid job is that I see firsthand that parenting is really an unpleasant task. Children scream and cry, wander off, make messes, cause problems. That lesson probably would not have come to me in the comfort of an accounting job (though I’d probably rather scrub toilets than do other people’s taxes, lol).

            I also had to deal with younger siblings and chaos, and it negatively impacted my childhood, which makes me less likely to want to ruin my adulthood as well. No reason I would want to go through that when I now have the choice to live for me.

            I’m not really responding to you anymore at this point, just getting my thoughts out there.

            As I said before, good luck with that. May propagating your DNA be everything you hoped it would be.

          • As for the notion of “family” requiring reproducing. Uh? Family by definition is blood relatives. For non-blood ties there are words like “friends” or “community”.

            And the argument that someone can’t live life to the fullest is not worth entertaining. Any parent will tell you they love their children and find child-rearing a rewarding and fulfilling experience, no matter how trying it is.

            I treasure my siblings very much and we are even closer as adults than as children. Families are a blessing and privilege — there are some people that have none.

          • C The Writer says:

            Some people have very shitty biological relatives (Hi there!) and aren’t blessed to have their blood relatives be kind and loving. In fact, some people aren’t loved by their relatives at all.

            Not everyone defines family that way. Some people consider their close friends family, or just their partner even when there are no kids in the situation. I think it’s crap that “starting a family” means popping out kids.

            Having kids severely limits what you can do and where you can go, and how you can live your life, whether you want to acknowledge that or not. I had the option of quitting a job for awhile when it became too much to handle precisely because I had no obligations to kids. I don’t see anything particularly rewarding about doing something that every other animal does. It’s not magic to be pregnant. It’s not fulfilling to live up to a responsibility you created when you got knocked up/knocked someone up. Many parents are just going through the motions and dealing with the hand (accident) life dealt them. The reality is that far more people have kids than should.

            What I find fulfilling is having friends and lover(s) to fill my life with love and laughter. That’s fulfillment to me. And traveling. Lots of traveling, something I’m sure you can relate to.

            Families are not always a blessing. Although I love my siblings, we grew up in a very dysfunctional family, and my father passed away before I reached puberty. My mother was an abusive person and she did untold damage to me. As a result, I don’t make the mistake of assuming that blood relatives are necessarily close. I have coworkers I’ve known for six months who treat me with more respect and show me more affection than my own mother ever did. Kisses and hugs were reserved for her boyfriend, and weren’t for her kids. What she did to me and siblings is a large part of why I don’t want kids myself. That and parenting is just annoying in my mind.

            The funny thing is that my mother destroyed her relationship with her children while nurturing her relationship with her boyfriend, who would go on to dump her and marry another woman mere months later. She gambled and lost.

          • Would you give it a rest.

            From now on C your comments on Money After Graduation will be blocked.

          • You know, I really don’t get you, Bridget. You’re a smart person and I thought you could come up with well reasoned responses. But instead you just block people and say give it a rest.

            Maybe you should realize that there are experiences in the world other than your own, and not everyone was as lucky as you to have a good family,

        • The population on most of the planet is contracting. Fertility rates are declining in every country on earth with the exception of three. In short, we’re not having enough children to replace ourselves let alone grow. Know what this means? An increasing aging population that will need to be supported by a perpetually decreasing workforce. You don’t have to be a mathematician to figure out why that’s problematic.

          Stop acting like abstaining from having children is noble because it’s “good for the environment”. It’s detrimental to society. If you want a real-time look at the problem, check out Japan. Nearly half of their population is retirement age and their horrifically low fertility rate will see the population halved by the end of this century.

          • C The Writer says:

            I freely admit that my motivation for not having children is largely out of self-interest.

            I do still disagree and think that there are too many people. There are over 7 billion people now. I don’t think that less people on the planet is necessarily a bad thing.

            My grandparents work and support themselves. Not every elderly person is living on social security. Some saved their money during their working years, others choose to continue to work well passed what society has deemed “retirement” age. For myself, if I can get the opportunity to follow my true passion, writing, I won’t see any need to retire unless I can’t write anymore.

            I’m not so sure that people not having kids is detrimental to society, and there’s always going to be SOMEONE who has kids, so there’s no real concern there.

          • C The Writer says:


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