I recently got a question from a reader asking for more stories and information on those who start their journey to debt freedom later in life. Ruth and I can both testify that it seems very overwhelming – and sometimes useless – to bother trying to pay off your debt when you’re in your later forties and beyond. It can often feel like “Well, I’ve screwed everything up for so long; what’s the point in trying to correct it now? By the time I finish I’ll be too old to enjoy the wealth anyway.”
Why Starting Late is Better Than Not Starting at All
I thought I’d share some encouragement for those who started their journey late like Ruth and DH did, and Rick and I did. Or give some motivation to those who haven’t started yet at all. No matter how deep you’re starting out, a late finish is worth the effort. Here are 4 reasons you should not hesitate to start your journey to financial wellness, even if you’re 50-plus.
Every Step Closer to Financial Wellness Will Make Life Easier
It may not seem like it now, but having $45,000 in consumer debt will feel less stressful than having $50,000 in consumer debt. Having a $275,000 mortgage will feel better than having a $300,000 mortgage. Every month that you see the numbers go down means less bondage to banks and credit card companies, lower monthly payment obligations and a shorter trek to the finish line of debt free.
While it can be tempting to say “So what? I’ll be debt free in twenty-five years instead of twenty-six,” you never know how much happiness that extra year of debt freedom might change your life.
Just start, and worry about the details later.
A Journey Out of Debt Often Goes Faster than You Think it Will
When Ruth and her DH started their journey, they never expected it to move as quickly as it did. In less than five years, they are now amazingly close to total debt freedom.
In our case we started with a much higher DTI, much higher debt and much lower income, but we are still moving forward. And although things haven’t moved as fast as I would have liked (I can be a little on the impatient side 🙂 ), we are making forward progress and the steps we’re taking are working faster than we thought they would.
You Might Live Longer than You Expect
It’s often tempting for those who are older and deep in debt to think that life is close to being over so what’s the point? I just read an amazing story on The Retirement Manifesto about a couple who didn’t start saving for retirement until they were forty-nine. They hardly had a dime in savings, but wanted to retire eventually and knew that social security on their lifelong smaller salaries wasn’t going to cut it.
They made a plan, got serious about saving and were able to retire in just………..nope. Not telling you. You’ll have to go read the story to find out. 🙂
However, I will tell you that now they are in their 80’s and livin’ large, and SO happy that they started late, rather than starting never.
Do it for the Kids
If you have children, start your journey out of debt – even if you’re starting late – for the sake of your kids. I wrote last week about my grandparents and how they spent their entire lives depending on their adult children for support. It was a sucky way to live. They often felt bad that they didn’t have money to give and were always in need of financial help. Grandpa was a super-hard-working guy – he and grandma just never learned how to manage money, and so they never had any. My mom would tell me that money always burned a hole in his pocket it went out so fast. They hated that they never had much cash but felt powerless to do anything with it. They believed – and we did too for years – that one’s money situation was simply luck of the draw.
I know firsthand that living with large amounts of debt and no savings is a horrible, stressful way to live. Rick and I did that for far too long simply because we were never taught differently. Now that we know better we’re taking the necessary steps to becoming financially independent. Yep, we started late, but I’m so glad we started.
Most everyone struggling with debt or a lack of savings has hurdles. Maybe your hurdle is a high debt-to-income ratio like we had. Maybe it’s a spouse who’s not on board with the whole debt payoff thing. Or maybe your hurdle is just that you feel it’s too late to start. Whatever your hurdle, I hope you begin making the steps to overcome it, because you can.
Never, ever give up on debt freedom. You deserve it!!!
What’s holding you back from starting your journey to debt freedom?