July 31, 2020. The day I made my final payment.

Hands shaking, I stared at the big blue button on my car loan provider’s “Make A Payment” page. Friends, family, and complete strangers watched on a live stream while I clicked through the final step to a 14-month long journey. After a lot of hard work, tears, and $20,881 – I was finally debt-free.

Since this time, my life has improved in both obvious and subtle ways. Here are 10 ways becoming debt-free has changed my life:

  • I am more thoughtful about what I allow into my life – Paying interest on past spending will make you completely rethink what you want to include in your daily life. I am much more intentional about what I say “yes” to what I buy.


  • I spend MORE money (on what matters) – Since becoming debt-free, my healthcare costs have gone way up. I am investing in my mental health, addressing long-overdue dental work, and establishing myself with a new doctor. My health has become more valuable to me in the last few years, so I am budgeting for it to be a priority.


  • I am calmer – Being debt-free gives you more peace of mind than you can imagine. Overall, I am a calmer, more easy-going person.


  • Budgeting is more fun – Budgeting was essential to being able to pay off my debt. Now that I don’t have to throw money at a car loan or credit card payment, I enjoy budgeting so much more.


  • I started a business – Without the burden of debt, I was able to launch Meadowsweet Money LLC and dedicate myself to sharing all the lessons I learned along the way through my Joyful Budget course and this blog. It is my mission to help other young professional women learn how to align their finances to their values and joy.


  • There is more room for fun – When I was paying off my debt, there were times I had to decline fun events and experiences. Now I have the ability to say “yes” to more fun because there is more space in my budget.


  • I am more creative – Debt hangs over your head like a dark cloud, which makes it harder to tap into your natural talents. I definitely feel more creative and inspired since paying off that last loan.


  • I have more free time – It was absolutely necessary for me to take on a side hustle for part of the time I was paying off debt because I simply did not make enough money at my day job. This helped me pay off my credit card debt but ate up all my free time. Side hustles are only a choice I make now because I want to – not because I need the money.


  • I became less afraid of losing my job – Between having an emergency fund and being debt-free, the anxiety of losing my job dissipated. For the months between paying off my debt and putting in my resignation, the thought of being fired or laid off was simply not as terrifying. Sure, it would have definitely stunk, but it would not have been devastating.


  • I feel more gratitude overall – Every day I feel more gratitude than before. I appreciate all that I have and feel proud of myself on a regular basis. (Therapy is also partly to be credited for this.)


Are you on the path toward debt freedom? How do you hope your life will be different once you make your final payment?