Do you road trip with debt? If so, does debt interfere with your ability to enjoy your nomadic freedom?
Roadtripping with debt didn’t seem like a problem to us in 2007. After all, this lifestyle was only supposed to last a year. After that, we were supposed to settle down and get back into the “normal” routine of a mortgage and living beyond our means with the miracle of plastic.
We didn’t know that being normal was dumb.
But when we discovered that we we loved the nomadic lifestyle too much to stop, we knew we had to scale back our spending to keep going.
We still had no idea where our income would be coming from, but our original road trip budget could last another year if we got out of debt. Meeting real life examples of debt free road trippers also helped.
Old Habits are Hard to Break
In 2008, we painstakingly cracked open our nest egg and paid off our last debt, the rig. But old habits are hard to break, and we kept using credit cards.
There’s something about the security of using a plastic when you don’t know how much money you’ll make each month.
Physically we were debt-free, but mentally we were still enslaved by the credit card security blanket. We paid off the balance each month but I would sweat as I scrambled to find the funds.
But I Pay My Balance Every Month!
Studies show that when you use plastic to shop, you’re automatically spending more than you would if you paid in cash. But somehow I thought I was different, and poo-pooed those studies thinking “Oh not me! I’m always careful.”
But after some agonizing credit card billing hassles with Bank of World Domination earlier this year, we burned the security blanket and committed to paying cash for everything.
Because we have the most sporadic, unpredictable income, suddenly every purchase we made was under scrutiny. Knowing that we could suffer the embarrassing fate of being declined at the checkout counter gives us a self-discipline like we never had before. It was scary as hell the first two months, but now it feels “normal” to us.
Since we stopped using credit cards, I can’t say that our expenses have gone down a whole lot (after all, we were pretty frugal to begin with), but the peace of mind I find in knowing that everything in our possession, everything we eat or consume, is paid for on the spot.
Next week we’ll hit the road, completely, truly debt-free for the first time ever. I can’t wait!
Disclaimer: I’ll confess that we still use one piece of plastic to handle some aspects of our business. The efficiency and protection our card company offers when dealing with vendors, product returns and exchanges and other things that make our businesses run can’t compare with the lame customer service we get from our bank. I know Dave Ramsey would disagree, but since we don’t use the business card for normal everyday spending, I’m OK with it.
We still pay our balance every month, but until our business ventures stabilize our income to a level where I feel comfortable dealing with vendors in cash, we’ll continue wearing the credit card security blanket for the business.
And now with our new business venture, that shouldn’t last too much longer!
Debt Free For Life: The Finish Rich Plan for Financial Freedom, by David Bach
Don’t Own, Don’t Rent, Live Well: How to be Debt Free, Build Your Nest Egg & Live Life on Your Own Terms, by Matthew & Fiona Peters
The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness