Leading a debt-free life means more money available to spend or invest, but most of its benefits have little to do with dollars and cents. If your debts are fully paid off -- even your mortgage -- this will take a great deal of pressure off you and your family. You can afford to take time off, and you can enjoy life without as much worry. Paying off all your debts makes a reliable and worthy target, and can pay off in ways that go beyond money.
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In the real world the borrower is beholden to the lender. When debt is taken out of the equation fewer people own a piece of you. If everything is paid off, you'll get the feeling you are working for yourself and your family instead of for creditors. Excessive debt will control you, and eliminating that feeling is good for your self-esteem -- especially if you put in years of effort to pay everything off.
Less Personal Stress
While money doesn't create happiness, not having to worry about debt will help your state of mind. You're under less pressure to work overtime to meet your debts. Just knowing you don't have to worry about creditors or the next bill showing up in the mail will make you happier.
Less Family Stress
Debt strains a marriage, too. Disagreements about money can push a marriage over the edge, and these disagreements may intensify when there is debt. Financial difficulties, particularly involving debt, are cited as a key reason why couples divorce. Without debt plugging up the budget, you are more likely to spend quality time with the family and not be preoccupied by how you're going to pay for it. A debt-free life also serves as a good example for your children, and they learn integrity and living within their means just by watching. Living free of debt will also allow you to help your children should they get into a financial jam later.
Living a debt-free live gives you more options. Without mortgage or loan payments to think about, you may be able to work less, take more time off, and devote more to projects that really interest you.
A More Certain Retirement
With debts paid off, you can invest more for your retirement. You won't have to worry about changes in pension plans or government retirement programs, and won't have to go back to work after retiring unless you want to.
Al Bondigas is an award-winning newspaperman who started writing professionally in 1985. His print credits include the "Mohave Valley Daily News" and "The Mohave County Standard." Bondigas studied journalism at San Bernardino Valley College in California.