The Blog Post I’ve Been Waiting to Write

Since the day I started this blog, I have dreamt of writing this post. Going through my drafts folder, there are a handful of posts filled with paragraphs I imagined I would include and quotes I thought I would share, but none of it feels quite right anymore.

It feels weird saying this, after announcing only yesterday that I was 10 days away from making my final debt repayment… but I lied. Seeing that I only had $495 left, I couldn’t wait. I wanted it gone. So I took it out of my savings yesterday afternoon and I made my final debt repayment.

I am debt-free.

How does it feel? Exciting. The same. Freeing. Fine.

How are you going to celebrate? I grabbed a frappuccino from Starbucks and drove down to the ocean (pic seen above) with a friend.

What’s next? I don’t know yet. But it’s incredible to think of how much my life has changed, since I started this blog two years ago.

You’ve heard my story before: I was maxed out, I moved back in with my parents for a while, and I started writing an anonymous blog. No part of the beginning was glamorous (especially my lacking wardrobe and stringy hair) but I knew right from the start that paying down my debt would involve making a number of sacrifices. While I had to say “no” to a few nights out, over the border shopping sprees and a surfing trip to Nicaragua, I knew I was working towards something important.

When I felt like I had no one else to talk to, I wrote here. Some of you have been reading from the very beginning, cheering me on every step of the way. You knew me as LC, you knew me as Cait, and now we’re probably friends on Facebook. Others have only recently discovered my blog, and more just pop on from time-to-time to check-in. I’ve shared every up and down that I’ve experienced over the last two years and you’re still here reading. I like to think you were waiting for this post too…

Unfortunately, I’m a little lost on what to say. There are no profound quotes to share. There are no major lessons to pass on. And I certainly can’t give you any advice. What I can say is this: getting out of debt is not easy. You have made it all easier for me, with your supportive comments and helpful tips, but I feel like I just finished my first marathon. I knew my goal. I knew what I had to do to accomplish it. But it felt like it took forever and there were more than a few hurdles along the way.

I’ll work on a “How I Paid Off $30,000 of Debt in 2 Years” post but, for now, know that I haven’t done this the “easy way” nor do I think there’s a right way to do it at all. I’ve tracked my spending, not tracked my spending, lived off cash, lived off debit cards, filled notepads with illegible ideas and made some serious mistakes. But I’ve also learned how to live with less, be happy with what I have, and know that the only things that matter in life are family, friends, health and happiness.

Two years ago, I felt like a total loser. I was living in my parents basement, crying myself to sleep some nights, and isolating myself by not sharing what I was going through with anyone I knew. Today, I feel whole. Not good or great – just whole. I still think about money daily but I don’t worry about it. I make plans and budget accordingly. I can afford to have a little bit of fun again. And next week, I’m going to get my first paycheque that will be 100% mine (you know, after I replenish my savings).

That’s my definition of freedom. What’s yours? :)

  • Congrats on completing your journey Cait :D That’s a lot of money you paid off in just 2 years. Must be a great feeling to be debt-free, and now you can look forward to beginning a new chapter in your life :) My idea of freedom is being able to work and play on my own terms without depending on a regular job to pay for my living expenses :0) Not quite there yet but I’m patient :0) Nice shot by the way. You should consider freelance photography :)

  • Hi Cait,

    I just wanted to say: Congratulations!

    I’ve been reading your blog on and off since you first started (I read mostly via RSS so commenting doesn’t happen frequently, sorry!) and it is so lovely to see this post. Well done!

    I took my spending/student debt in hand a couple years ago as well and it really is such a relief to have that freedom now. Just knowing that I’m going to leave my twenties with a steady hand on my cashflow is an amazing feeling and I’m glad that you get to experience that too.

    • Congrats on taking control of your finances! I take it you’re soon to be 30? :)

      And don’t apologize for not commenting. Thank you for reading!

      • Heh, yes. I’ll be bidding farewell to my 20’s at the end of the year. I’m quite looking forward to the 30’s – my 20’s were fun and all but very unstable and debty, so I’m def. looking forward to stability and being able to be more fun with my money (within reason, of course!)

  • As a person also on a “get out of debt journey” your post brings a huge smile to my face, Cait. I’m happy and proud of you beyond words – this accomplishment, the way you’ve turned your life around, is nothing short of amazing. The fact that you’ve reached this goal, regardless of the struggles you’ve gone through, gives inspiration and hope to those of us still working to reach that finish line. Congratulations my friend!

    • Thank you so much, Travis. Your support over the last two years has been so appreciated. Your time is coming soon! :D

  • Congratulations, Cait, I am tearing up as I read. I am really proud of you, and only hope that two years from now, I can make as many changes as you have! ($35k to go, woooo!)

    • Aww, you are too sweet, Deena! You will DEFINITELY be where I am in two years’ time. I know it.

  • Sometimes it’s hard to see the impact of accomplishing a goal until a little down the road. I felt very anti-climactic when I defended my dissertation, something I’d been working toward for many years. Later, I realized what it meant to me. Congratulations on completing your journey to debt-free! Thank you for sharing it with us and inspiring us. I know we’re all cheering you on to enjoy the next phase of life. Revel in the freedom to choose your path :)

    • Thank you, Sarah! For commenting and for understanding how anti-climactic big moments can seem. Weird, since it’s pretty monumental… hmm.

  • CONGRATS!!!! I’m glad I started reading about 6 months ago to see you achieve this amazing goal.

    If I can write a post like this in the next 10 years I’ll be THRILLED. But you did it in only 2!!

  • Congrats, Cait! This is an amazing accomplishment and I’m so glad to have discovered your blog and followed you on your journey.

    Enjoy your new found freedom!

    You go GIRL!

  • Congratulations! You’re such an inspiration, and even though I’m one of those “new” readers, I’m super proud. You should write a memoir ;)

  • Congratulations! What a wonderful feeling it is too pay off the last of a debt : ) It is like getting your life back. Even though money isn’t everything you can never be carefree with a large debt hanging over your head. For me, it felt like being let out of jail….I could never sleep well or really enjoy myself knowing that I owed so much money. I lived in fear of my family finding out and judging me for it and was ashamed of my situation. I got through it though, and learned along the way that nothing is worth the stress of buying something you can’t afford (car, trip, house, whatever). In fact, now that I have quite a bit of savings and investments, it’s hard for me to even fathom what I used to spend/waste money on (money I hadn’t even earned yet). At 40 years old, I still don’t know what exactly I am saving for, but you said it best when you mentioned that family, friends, health and happiness are the most important things in life (because a new couch or car will not change your life!). Anyway, best of luck to you in all of your future pursuits, I have really enjoyed reading about your journey and hope you continue writing.

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Lisa! I can totally relate to feeling ashamed and not wanting anyone to know how bad your finances were. It’s nice to hear that you’ve been successful with saving money, investing, etc. :)

  • This is a huge accomplishment. Nice work! I remember that feeling when I did it almost a year ago. While I didn’t feel that much when I paid it off, the next month is when I really felt it. I didn’t have to make any payment and it was awesome!

  • Congratulations!! I’ve been reading since your LC days and its amazing to see this post!

  • Cait,

    Congrats! You deserve this! You’ve worked so hard to get here. Just take some time and let it sink in. And enjoy it!

  • You have certainly be a wonderful resouce and and a form of inspiration to me and many others. Thank you for sharing your story and I’m so happy for you that you’ve reached such an incredible milestone! Cheers to financial freedom and your next chapter!

  • I am so happy for you! What an accomplishment. I have roughly the same amount of debt you started with between a credit card and student loans and have about the same income that you do, so this blog was the perfect find for me. I just found it a few months ago and am making my way through your old entries. It’s really motivating! I can’t wait until my debt-free day. I’ll definitely keep reading as you save and hope you treat yourself some too. :)

    • I’m so happy you found my blog, too! Email me if you ever need someone to talk money/budgeting with. And yes, I’m treating myself… :)

  • Congrats Cait! I’ve been reading your blog for the last year or so now and I really enjoy it. I’m so glad you’ve hit your goal! I’m working my way through a similar debt number and I find your blog a real inspiration.
    Cheers :)

  • Congratulations Cati! You should be extremely proud of yourself, you have touched many people with your blog and story :) I hope with your first pay check you do a little something special for yourself…within your budget of course ;)

  • Wow, that is amazing. Congratulations. Think of all the extra money you’ll have now. I know people who don’t have even half as much debt but that have had it for 10 years. Congratulations. This is an incredible accomplishment.

    • Thanks, Francieidy! I think it’s difficult for most people to imagine that it’s even possible to live a life without debt – I know I used to, and still do in some ways. Like, I might be debt-free now… but then one day I’ll have a mortgage. Anyway, hopefully the people you know don’t live with theirs for too long. Interest sucks!

  • Wow Cait, congrats, you really have done it. I love your frank discussion of how you feel about being debt free, instead of happy a little internet happy dance (which you would totally be entitled to).

  • So exciting for you! Congrats on your HUUUGE accomplishment! Definitely something to be incredibly proud of!

  • *hugs* I never doubted for a minute that you’d reach the end of your debt one day :D Congratulations! You’ve such come a long way in a relatively short period of time. You’re an inspiration :)

  • “I am debt-free”

    Of course I expect that you’ll now laminate that sentence and post it on your fridge, right Cait? :-)

    Two years ago you made 2 very smart decisions. You first decided to take that first step on the long road to debt freedom. You also were wise to then start this blog which then provided you with the social media tool to externally and internally support you in reaching that goal. So, yes, my congratulations also go out to you my friend – paying off $30K in 2 years is no small achievement!

    With that discipline and determination of yours, just think where you’ll be financially in the next 2 years! Anything is possible, right?

    • Haha, you know, I considered framing my bank statement or something…

      And anything IS possible! With the right attitude and some hard work.

      Thanks for your continued support, Rob. :)

  • Whooohooo!
    I suspect it’s similar to finishing exams at the end of a semester… all this build up and effort and then you’re done and have this energy but nothing really to do or focus on.
    Congratulations and here’s to maintaining a stellar savings rate and setting yourself up for good with a healthy financial backing.
    :-) Congratulations

  • Yay C! I am so incredibly proud of you. I agree, it felt sort of anti-climactic for me when we paid off the last of our debt, but seeing our savings go up every month by leaps and bounds has made it hit home for me. I really feel like we’ve learned to live within our means (and even below them) without sacrificing quality of life. And we are firmly middle class – no 6 figure jobs here. There was one month where we didn’t save anything, but that’s because we had nearly $1000 worth of car maintenance done. It’s wonderful to be able to cash flow that into our budget without having to put it on a CC or pull from savings (and freak out about it).

    Welcome to the debt free club! What’s next on the agenda? For us, as you know, we have an emergency fund started, and are currently (almost done) saving for NYC in 3 weeks. After that, we’ll finish our emergency fund to six months’ expenses before we save for a house. I think we’ll probably bring back some leftover money from our NYC trip and be able to throw it into the e-fund.

    I’d love to have you peel back the onion a bit and tell us how much you have in savings and how much you WANT to have in there. (Even if it’s general terms, like “X months’ worth of savings” or you’re at 30% of your savings goal or whatever. I know it can be hard to talk about money when you have readers that know you personally or work with you or whatever.)

    • Woo hoo! I’m so excited to join your exclusive club, hehe. Don’t be surprised if I email you with questions about “life after debt”… you and J are a huge inspiration for me, especially in how you work on your finances so well together.

      I will definitely talk a lot more candidly about my savings – at least, after the summer. I have a lot of expenses to pay for, over the next 3 months… (to be honest, I’m freaking out a little, even though my debt is now gone).

      Can’t wait to hear all about NYC when you’re back! xo

  • first of all: CONGRADS!!! you certainly deserve a round of applause!!! its an awesome feeling that you are no longer “chained” to a mistake…good job C!

  • Congratulations! Your will and determination has clearly paid off! I hope that you’re very proud of yourself – you definitely should be :)

  • Just read your site for the first time. I enjoyed it. I remember struggling, being in debt, trying to keep my head above water. Since I became debt free, there is great joy in saving, in being prudent, in looking towards long-term goals like having money to purchase a new home, a car, etc … and having the freedom to give where I am moved to give …

    Congrats on arriving at the starting line, with open roads ahead.

    • Thanks, G! It’s hard to even imagine a life where my paycheques can actually be put towards something that will help me in my future. I’ve never lived a life like that before. Even though I’ve finished one journey, I’m definitely at the starting line of the next one :)

  • I was reading your blog for weeks before I started my own 6 months ago and you are such an inspiration lady. You wear your heart on your blog and I love that! Congrats on being debt-free! I can’t wait to read what’s next for Cait :)

  • Like and congrats x 1000! You did it! You’ve worked so hard to get here and inspired so many folks along the way – I can’t wait to see what you get up to next!

  • CONGRATULATIONS!

    This is my first comment on your blog as well, but I couldn’t resist chiming in to say I admire your determination and hard work. Being debt free is WONDERFUL! And the journey has made it obvious you can get a job done when you really put your mind to it.

    Well done, and good luck in your next adventure. I look forward to reading all about it here cuz I know it’s gonna be BIG. ;)

    • I’m so happy you finally chimed in! New comments are my favourite. I have a feeling my next adventure is going to be big too… but what the heck is it going to be? hehe :)

  • Congratulations! The journey is tough but you made it through. I would like to thank you, Cait for your blog that have inspired me to start a similar journey.

    • Oh, it’s a huge weight off… replaced by “what the heck do I do now!?” haha. Thanks, Natalie!

  • Hi Cait,

    I know that we have exchanged a few emails in the past – but I just wanted to wish you a HUGE CONGRATS on hitting your debt free day! Your determination has been so inspiring in my own debt repayment journey! I wish you the best with everything you work toward in the future. I know you will reach every goal with the same success!

    • Thank you so much, Shannon! I’ve appreciated all of our emails and your support. Now get back to kicking your debt’s butt to the curb :)

  • Hi Caitlin,
    This is very inspiring! I wasn’t there for the beginning but I’m happy to see the end of your debt, it’s very heartening to see other people succeed on their debt free journey. I feel more hopeful about my own debt journey!
    Thanks so much for sharing your ups and downs so honestly – it’s very courageous for you to do so!
    Cheers
    Lindsey

    • Thank you so much, Lindsey! It’s not always easy writing about money so candidly, but knowing it might help even one person look at theirs a little more seriously makes it worth it. Appreciate you commenting :)

  • Congratulations! I’m glad you didn’t write any profound quotes : ) You sound a little bit like someone in shock – but the very best kind. As you get perspective from the other side of debt, I’m sure the profound quotes will come. All the best in debt-freedom. I hope to get there some day too.

  • Getting a little philosophical – “But I’ve also learned how to live with less, be happy with what I have, and know that the only things that matter in life are family, friends, health and happiness.”

    That’s great. I thin that’s an even larger point than just being debt free, it’s that these things we spend money on don’t really change our quality of life, well, obviously there’s a threshold, but it’s much lower than what people expect.

    Cheers

    • My new favourite way to think of it is this: you need money to survive – to have shelter, to eat, etc. That’s it.

  • Congratulations!!!

    I am so happy that you have made it! We are just starting to try to tackle the massive debt we have and your post is so inspiring!

    It’s the “end of the beginning” as they say… I can imagine it feels great!

  • congrats!
    it’s my first time reading your blog, I think your story is truly inspirational =)
    best of luck to you!

  • Hi Cait! I have never read your blog before, but I am on the way to being debt free myself. I think I should be done June of 2016. You bring inspiration to me by what you have accomplished and I know I can do the same. Congrats to you!

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