Becoming debt-free was like a huge burden had been lifted off our shoulders. We had worked so hard and it finally paid off…literally.
So, now the question was, “What do we do now?” Obviously, we weren’t going to start blowing all our money because paying off debt was only PART of our goal. We also wanted to build up our savings and plan for early retirement.
However, after cutting costs and saving for so long, we wanted to live a little. Here are 4 things we did AFTER we became debt-free:
1. We went out to eat AND actually bought an appetizer
If you are on your debt-free journey, you know what a big deal this is. You don’t go out to eat when you are working hard to pay off debt and even if you did (maybe once a year for your birthday or anniversary) you most certainly don’t buy an appetizer.
Am I right?
So, when we mailed off that last mortgage payment, we went out to eat. Now, we didn’t go to some super fancy place either. We were on our way to spend the weekend with my in-laws and we stopped by Market Place on the way there.
We felt free, liberated, and happy. We ordered a huge appetizer, nice meals, and even sweet tea, y’all.
We had a blast! It was a fun celebration after all of our hard work.
2. We bought a hot tub
Yep. We sure did.
Buying a hot tub seemed like a luxurious thing to do. And it was. We bought a nice, new, but reasonably priced hot tub and put it out on our back deck. It was comfortable, pretty, and even had color changing lights to make evening soaking more fun.
After we put on some Reggae music, we were basically hanging out in Jamaica. It was a relaxing way to end our day.
3. We bought zoo passes
Zoo passes are around $100 a year and when we were paying off our mortgage, that was almost a month’s worth of principal payments.
We decided to skip the zoo passes until our debt was paid. That’s something that a lot of people don’t understand. Every penny counts. How many people told us that we were being ridiculous because $100 a year for zoo passes isn’t that much?
But we stuck to our guns. When we said we were serious, we meant it.
We enjoyed that year (and many years since) at the zoo. Each trip was like a celebration of our accomplishments!
4. We went on our first cruise
Within weeks after mailing off that last mortgage payment, we left on the first of many Caribbean cruises.
For some reason, this seemed like the ultimate celebration after so long of saving and living frugally.
So, we found an awesome deal for a 5 day Carnival cruise and began our journey down to the Port of Galveston.
We were headed for Progreso, Yucatan, Mexico and Cozumel, Mexico.
The first time we saw that huge Carnival fin rising above the buildings in Galveston, we were completely energized. We stepped on that ship like two free birds. We were finally done with mailing off mortgage payments each month and we were ready to relax.
Once we sunk our toes in that Mexican sand, we didn’t have a care in the world.
I know for a fact that we wouldn’t have had as much fun if we still had debt hanging over our heads.
That freeing feeling wouldn’t have been there because we would have had to face the bills in our mailbox once we got back.
We knew all our hard work was worth it and it made that vacation so much sweeter.
5. We bought cheese again
If you have been reading Big House in the Woods for very long at all, you know that I talk about “smart grocery shopping” as one of the main ways we saved money to pay off our debt.
We didn’t buy anything at the grocery store that wasn’t necessary (like soft drinks, chips, etc.) and we also didn’t buy any food that we thought was expensive.
Expensive foods included things like meat, some types of fruit, out-of-season avocados, and cheese.
Living without cheese was like living without sunshine. I know it sounds a little silly but we were cutting back TREMENDOUSLY so we could pay off our house quickly.
Cheese just had to go.
On the next grocery shopping trip after paying off our mortgage, we bought cheese. And not just any cheese. We went to the specialty section in the deli and got some expensive, smelly cheese.
It was wonderful.
We savored it and reflected on our accomplishments.
Was it worth it?
All of the cutting back was worth it. We had paid off our mortgage which meant we had no more debt. We didn’t owe for anything anymore.
The delayed gratification paid off.
We had told ourselves “no” to many things. We had rented free movies from the library, we had only visited the zoo on “Dollar Day”, and we hadn’t been out to eat in a year.
I have to say here that we also had a lot of fun. We didn’t walk around with sad faces. We had a blast!
Saving money and being frugal had become a game for us.
We are still very frugal now. However, we do buy cheese, go on vacations, we get zoo passes when we want, and we go out to eat every once in a while when we convince ourselves that we actually feel like leaving our Big House in the Woods.
But we only do those things now that we are out of debt.
What about you?
How did you celebrate?
Leave me a comment!