What will you buy when you’re out of debt?

The wife and I enjoying a date night in The Year Of No.

Last weekend, the kids took a weekend trip to the grandparents’ house giving my wife and I the opportunity to test what a date night in “The Year Of No” would be like.

We went through the gift cards. I found a movie card for $10.45, but that wasn’t going to be enough to get us into the evening show. I know we have another gift card around the house with much more on it, but of course, I have no idea where it is. We looked, we gave up.

Then Amy remembered we had three $5 gift cards to Starbucks, and she had one $5 gift card to Target (the latter a gift from one of our daughters to her at Christmas). We headed off to our nearest Target — which has a Starbucks inside of it — for a date night on the cheap.

I purchased a decaf coffee, and she got a hot chocolate. Total Starbucks out-of-pocket cost: $0.00. Then we walked aimlessly around Target. She found a t-shirt for our son she insisted he have, so her Target gift card and her weekly spending money cost her $1 and some change.

We looked at shoes and clothing. We chatted with a couple who had a cute little boy who just couldn’t help but wander from his mommy and daddy. I checked out the Bluetooth speakers systems. The Bose sound really good. Then we went home and watched a movie on Netflix. It was a nice evening; just two loves spending the night together.

But a real curveball came on our date when Amy asked me a question: “When we get out of debt, what are you going to buy first?”

I didn’t have a good answer. I thought about it, and decided that maybe I’d upgrade the home computers or something, but that’s really more of a utility than something fun. I spend enough time on a computer during the day for work that coming home and spending more time on one isn’t as appealing as it used to be.

When I thought about it more, I realized the reason I don’t have an easy answer is that I’ve grown more content with the things I have over time. I really enjoy experiences far more than I do material things these days. A newer car would be nice. A new guitar might be fun. But overall, I don’t have anything that I’m super interested in purchasing.

My pursuit has other drivers. I want to own the feeling of not owing anyone or any organization money. I want the freedom to say, “Let’s go on a trip!” and know I’m not robbing Peter to pay Paul. I want the peace of mind of no obligations other than the Four Walls: food, shelter (with utilities), clothing, and transportation. I want the joy that I love to experience by giving to those in need when I’m moved to do so.

That’s what I want. We are going to get there this year.

We are two weeks in “The Year Of No,” and things are going great. Now, to keep the motivation going and dig deep into our goal of zero debt.

2 responses to “What will you buy when you’re out of debt?

  1. The first thing I “bought” after paying off all debt, was savings. I built up my savings so that vacations, cars, electronics and such could be paid for with cash on hand. No future debt. I have a slush fund that is used to purchase a new car, take a vacation, etc. I have investments, but leave them be and depend on my fund for large outlays. I likely should take some of the fund and invest it as it gets larger, but then I may have to put off a great vacation. Once out of debt, use as much of your discretionary money as possible on great adventures. The extraordinary experiences bring great joy both at the moment and in your memories. Think outside of the box. Travel abroad to unique locations or take extended road trips to national parks. Every Kansan should hit a beach every so often, if just to remind us that they, in fact, exist. Physical possessions erode, rot, rust and decay, while memories are forever……or at least till Alzheimers. Balance your normal routine with adventures rather than just vacations. And don’t spend too much time looking forward to your adventure. It will come in due time and be a joy. Instead live each day as an adventure, appreciating and enjoying the little, great things that surround you each day.

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