Emotional and Financial Freedom: Debt-Free and Spirituality in 2013
Yes, I’m still alive! Really.
For those of you who were worried about my absence, thanks for asking. It wasn’t that anything was wrong–too many things were right all at the same time. For most of the last 3 months, I’ve been working 10-12 hours a day on a high-viz project, then coming home and working another 3 or so hours. And none of that has included any writing, editing, or uploading The Secret Lives of Librarians. Most nights, I’ve managed to eat dinner, get in my mandatory exercise, and then ker-plunk into bed just in time to get a minimum 6 hours of sleep, hopefully closer to 8 as per doctor’s orders.
You’ll notice I haven’t posted any photos in a while but here’s proof that I’m feeling stronger after a couple of months of supplements! I’ll probably move some of the health posts from here to a new blog dedicated to overcoming adrenal fatigue and estrogen dominance and therefore drag my readers along with me for my mind-body-somewhat-less-spirit discussions. Sometimes The Spiritual Eclectic blog becomes a little too diverse in content, I think.
Speaking of dragging you along, I’ve spent the past month exploring financial freedom and both the spiritual and emotional connotations of debt, even “good debt.” As I embark on this journey, I’ll post some of the things I’m doing to become permanently debt-free (been there, done that, pre-divorce, and now I get a good laugh at people who smugly brag about achieving debt-freedom without knowing how quickly it can be taken away). I’ll plug these blog posts into the Financial Freedom category if you want to follow read more.
Why am I going through this sudden financial housecleaning? Hard to say. Probably the same reason I periodically look at something in my life with spotlight intensity to scare off the shadows and make it sparkle. I call it self-improvement and spiritual growth; my favorite person says, yes, but unlike other people, I turn it into an art form.
So I’ve decided to become debt-free again. Some people will say it’s not the smartest thing to do because I can borrow cheap money and invest it, leverage my debt to make money, etc. I’ve done all that, though. What that smart financial advice doesn’t take into account is the emotional factor–and never ever ever the spiritual factor.
I’ve spent the last decade focused on my kids, their college expenses, a stable home life, being a single mom. They’re both off at college now, one in grad school and on her own. And I can finally focus on my own needs. Because those needs have changed in the last two years. I’ve made different decisions, brought forth different dreams. And I’m quite happy with my dreams and where I want to go.
What’s bad about “good debt”?
But debt? Even “good debt”? It almost always has an emotional connotation. There’s a heaviness that’s attached to it, and that translates into a spiritual heaviness. For me, at least. When I was very young, I had a few credit card debts that were the result of buying something physical that represented some emotional need that wasn’t fulfilled. Yeah….I got rid of that fox fur jacket only a couple of years ago….
In spite of a few flamboyant purchases, I did just fine. I’m all grown up now. I’m financially responsible, great FICO, all that. I funnel most of my bills through one credit card with grandly promised rewards and pay it in full every month. I have car debt and I have house debt, and I’ve bought my house twice already, the second time to keep my home and stability for the kids rather than sell it in the divorce and move elsewhere. I also have a good understanding of where I’ve been. I was quite good at playing the stock market in my 20’s and early 30’s until a busy double career and 2 small children meant turning over my finances to my banker husband and taking a break from reading Kiplinger reports daily. When I became single again, I wanted nothing to do with bankers or lawyers ever again. I lost faith in the financial system because of things I saw in the next few years after that. I was emotionally bitter but also regarded banks and stocks with more distrust than most Americans did after the bailouts, and that’s saying something! This has been a dark spiritual cloud for me for many years now, and I’ve just realized it in the last few weeks.
And getting rid of that dark spiritual cloud of debt–of any type–is worth more to me than using low-cost debt to fund high-return adventures.
The debt I carry against the house now is a constant reminder of a very dark time in my life when I felt very much alone. It was really not a choice at the time. I often refer to this event as “paying my ransom so I could go free.” The thing is, as long as I went into debt to pay my own ransom, I wasn’t emotionally free or spiritually free of the event. Yes, I could walk away from an unsavory situation, but the financial bonds–and therefore the emotional and spiritual bonds–were still there. Still are.
And I’m tired of carrying them with me, even if keeping low-cost debt is smarter, according to some financial experts who say I’m giving in to a psychological need over a financial fact.
My plan for the new year
So in 2013, I plan to get as far as I can toward becoming debt-free again, not just financially but also emotionally and spiritually free of debt. I’ve already paid off the entire balance of the only credit card I’ve used for the last couple of years. On 1 January, I pay off my car in full. On 2 January, I start paying off the house debt.
And if I turn it into an “art form,” so what? I happen to really, really, REALLY like not owing anyone anything. Especially bankers.
Feel free to follow my latest journey. Maybe it’ll help you, too?