Why I’m Getting Out of Debt

by Ryan Yates

There are many reasons people want to get out of debt but there is only one reason that I’m working my ass off to pay off “The Man.” It’s called Freedom.

I want freedom from the stress of worry, freedom to provide for my family, freedom of choice, and freedom for the future.

Freedom from stress

When I was $101K in debt, stress was my life.  I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t eat.  I felt a weight on my shoulders that I couldn’t shake.  I felt like a failure.  I felt that I was a bad husband.  I felt that I was a bad father.  I felt that I wasn’t providing for my family.  In simple terms, I felt like shit every day and every night.

Freedom for my Family

Being deep in debt eliminated many freedoms to experience life with my family.  I couldn’t turn down any overtime at work.  I had to miss countless family activities.  I couldn’t afford to take any type of vacation.  Any little money hiccup would be a disaster to the family.  All because our credit cards were maxed out and all the cash that was coming in was already spoken for to cover the minimum monthly credit card and debt payments.  In simple terms, I felt like shit every day and every night.

Freedom for the Future

Debt took away any freedom I had for my future.  I couldn’t change jobs because I needed the cash flow to pay all the debt.  I couldn’t return to school to work on my Masters Degree because there was no money left for pay for it.  I couldn’t look for a larger home because we were completely upside down on our current home with no hope of covering the difference.  I was stuck, and with all the debt there was nothing I could do.  In simple terms, I felt like shit every day and every night.

The Mirror

A mirror is just a simple object that reflects light in a way our eyes and brain can process an image of ourselves.

When you are deep in debt, the mirror is sheer horror.  To look at yourself and realize that you are the cause of your debt, that you are the reason for your hardships, and that you are the only one that can change it is scary.  If you look long enough you will see the answer to your problems (see where I’m going with this?)

YOU are the only way out.  YOU are the means to the end.  YOU have the power to change.  YOU can take control of a seemingly uncontrollable situation and change how you see yourself, and your world.  Keep looking in the mirror; you DO have the power within.

The Anger

I looked in my mirror and realized I was PISSED off.  Pissed off that I let this happen, even though I knew I was a smart person — I made these stupid money mistakes.  I got so angry with myself, I made the CHOICE to fix the situation.  I made the choice to blast away my debt.  I made the choice for freedom.

The next day I went out and got a job delivering pizza.  I took my anger and put it to work.  I took all those shitty feelings and put them on the shelf, and choose to DO something about it.  I made the choice to begin the process to eliminate my debt, and to reclaim my freedom.  The freedom my family deserves, the freedom from all the stress, and most importantly – The freedom of a future.

It only takes one step to start a journey.  I urge you to stand in front of the mirror.  Stand there until you see the power you have inside you.  You have it, I know you do – we all do.

Look at yourself in that mirror and make the toughest choice of all, the choice of action.  Are you going to continue worrying about money?  Are you going continue hurting your family?  Are you going to continue to be a slave to your debt?  HELL NO!!!

Get off your ass and get to work.  Get a second job.  Write the budget you’ve been scared for years to write.  Talk to your spouse/family about the future and how you are going to change.  Change your life.  Use the anger and the hurt to make a difference for your family.

I did it.  It’s the single most important action I’ve EVER taken in my life.

It will require sacrifice, work, dedication, and love – but it’s all worth it.  I’m in a better place now.  I look in the mirror and see a man who’s given everything he has for his family and his future.  It’s an awesome feeling.  I want you to feel that too.

So start now.  Start getting out of debt.  Start making the difference your family deserves.

I’m here if you need help, if you need motivation, if you just need someone to talk to.  I’m here.


Mike February 16, 2011 at

Great job Jeff! Unfortunately, there are too few of us real men out there that will do anything and everything to take care of our families. Thanks for the inspiration!

Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog February 16, 2011 at

I couldn’t agree more. I knw *exactly* how you feel now, and how you felt when you were deep in debt, because I felt the exact same way. My life sucked (well, not on the surface because I was spending money) but once you dug deeper, it was a disaster. Always stressed about money, where the money would come from, how would I pay for things I needed, what would happen if a a real emergency cropped up, wondering what was going wrong with my car that I’d have to wait to fix because I didnt have the money, then learn to fix because I couldnt afford to pay someone.
One day, I just woke up and said “hell with this shit, it needs to change” so I slowly started getting my financial feet under me, and it’s been a struggle ever since – but so worth it.

Den February 16, 2011 at


Thanks for this! I can so relate to the ANGER – I’m so mad at myself (and hubby) for allowing our family to get in this situation! But once we took responsibilty for it and decided to change our lives we’ve seen progress. The biggest thing we’ve done is stop digging the hole – we changed our mindset to “we’ll just pay for little extras/emergencies/indulgences wtih our VISA” to “VISA is no longer an option for anything”….and we’re seeing progress on our debt free journey.

Every night I look at our specific goals and at the bottom it reads “FREEDOM” – I can’t wait to be free!

Thank you for the continued encouragement!!!

Squirrelers February 16, 2011 at

Bravo, Jeff. This post has to be inspirational to anybody who reads it, whether they’re in debt or not. I’m retweeting this.

Squirrelers February 16, 2011 at

Bravo, Jeff.

This post has to be inspirational to anybody who reads it, whether they’re in debt or not. I’m retweeting this.

Evan February 17, 2011 at

Don’t forget about freedom from an early death! That kind of stress is not good for anyone!

Financial Samurai February 17, 2011 at

It’s amazing how debt impacts people differently. I’ve never been angry at debt, but recently, I’m starting to get annoyed about a student loan debt I’ve had for 5 years now. It’s only 2.3% interest, but still…. I have a growing desire to pay it down quicker.

Seaburg February 18, 2011 at

I was a debt junkie for almost ten years. I ran up credit card after credit card living like my salary was about four times its actual size. Stupid things I bought on credit included flying lessons, weekends in Vegas, and a spanking new pickup truck. Hey, I never said I wasn’t having fun.

Charles February 20, 2011 at

Thanks for sharing your personal experience. Taking the moment to look in front of the mirror and realizing you are the way out and have the power to change was an inspirational message.

For me, it’s showers. Taking a shower always gives my brain interesting thoughts and ideas.

Do you still find the mirror/reflection insightful or do you have prefer another medium for insight/clarity (e.g.: tub, driving, chores, cleaning, diaper changing) now?

jennypenny February 21, 2011 at

I’d never really thought about why I wanted to get out of debt. I have a long list of reasons that I’ve learned from other people why I should get out of debt. I never considered my own.

Anger really reasonated with me. It’s not that I get mad at the debt, per se. It’s that I get REALLY angry when I have an unexpected bill (I get mad at the car for needing work, I get mad at my kid’s school for a $ request, I get mad when someone has to go to the doctor). But honestly, I’m really mad that I don’t have a lot of money saved up to pay for these things. So I want to build up our savings–and pay down our debt–so that I won’t get angry over every bill that comes our way. The constant anger is unhealthy.

Thanks for the new take on things.

Sandy @ yesiamcheap February 26, 2011 at

Gosh if you had been looking in my window you could not have said it better. Get angry and then get moving. It’s the best feeling you will ever have.

Jeffrey Kosola February 28, 2011 at

@Sandy I’m glad we think alike. Getting angry always reminds me of Ground Hog Day, “Don’t Drive Angry”

cara February 28, 2011 at

I just found your blog via “Yes, I am Cheap” and I am in love. Thanks for writing this!

Jeffrey Kosola February 28, 2011 at

@Cara, thanks for stopping by and “loving” the blog. I just sent you an email and addressed it the wrong first name, sorry — It won’t happen again 🙂

Austerity Bill March 1, 2011 at

I’ve just gone through this process with my partner. Its very liberating when you get there, good luck!

Cool Breeze July 16, 2012 at

Nuke those fucking loans as fast you can. Got out of school with 55k of gov’t loan debt. No credit cards. Keeping my life as simple as possible. No car, mostly eating in. Trying to keep worry at bay by exercising (no gym). Basically I live like a student still even tho I earn 70k now. Should be debt free in about 1 year. I don’t want to prolong this the repayment. I don’t want to be beholden to anyone. It was my choice to take the loans, but it was not my choice to be born into this system. Oh well. I will make the best of it. And for now the consumerist model does not work for me. Maybe it never will. But come one more year I will never borrow money again.

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