How Would Your Life Be If You Didn’t Have Debt?

How Would Your Life Be If You Didn't Have Debt?Today’s Ask the Readers post will be multiple questions. Comment with your answers below. You can answer just one question or all eight of them. Enjoy!


What would you do if you didn’t have debt?

In July of this year, I completed my goal to get rid of my $40,000 student loan debt. It felt amazing. However, we still have a mortgage.

If we didn’t have a mortgage payment each month, we would be freeing up around $1,000 each month and we could put that towards something else.

If we didn’t have the mortgage, I imagine that we would be putting a lot more towards retirement. Not too exciting, I know.

However, if our case was different and we still had student loans as well, I probably wouldn’t have left my day job to work full-time on my business.


Would you pay off your mortgage if you could?

Something that I am asked often is if we are starting to attack our mortgage.

Nope, we are not.

We are not attacking our mortgage because we know that we don’t want to live in our current home forever. Also, up until earlier this year, we were actually actively looking for a new home.

I do think that the case would be different if we were in our forever home. I would want to attack the mortgage and get rid of it immediately.


If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

If I could pick up all of my friends and family, I would bring everyone to Hawaii. I would want to live somewhere with great weather and a beach nearby. I also want to be near the ones that I love though!


What would you do in life if you know for a fact that you would succeed?

I feel like I’m already doing what I want to do. My business allows me to pursue my passions outside of work, and the work is something that I enjoy doing. I don’t ever dread the next morning. Instead, I really look forward to it.


If you were to travel for 2 months, could you bring just a carry-on suitcase?

This is something that I really want to be able to do for when we go on our long trip. This way I won’t have as much to lug around, and I also don’t have to worry about luggage getting lost. Then, I could also buy a bag to check wherever I go to bring all the awesome stuff that I buy back home.


What is your largest personal finance mistake?

Hmmm… My largest personal finance mistake would be that I took out way too much in student loans. Yes, they are gone now, but I took out extra just because I could. I can only imagine how much less that I probably would have had if I didn’t take thousands extra out.


What’s the last GREAT deal that you received?

We recently had carpet installed in our living room for around $500. Super cheap if you ask me. It was supposed to be about double but they didn’t charge us to lay the tack strip down. We also waited a long time after they gave us a quote. We didn’t do that on purpose, we were just super busy. I guess they thought we weren’t interested though. They kept calling us until they were at their lowest offer!


What’s your best tip to work and travel at the same time?

I made a post on this the other day, and I would love tips from everyone else! Read My Plan To Work and Travel on Diversified Finances.


Now, answer away! :)


About Michelle S.
Michelle is the founder of Making Sense of Cents, a blog about personal finance and traveling. She discusses how her business has evolved in her side income series. She recently eliminated $40,000 in student loans at the age of 24. Are you interested in starting your own blog?

57 Responses to How Would Your Life Be If You Didn’t Have Debt?

  • Allison says:

    We are attacking our mortgage as fast as we can. We even looked at doing a refi but we are paying so quickly we would not recoup the savings. Our goal is to pay off our home so that when we move in around 5 years we can keep this house and use it as a rental. We love real estate and want to purse that debt free.
    Allison recently posted..Desperate Times Call for Acts of StupidityMy Profile

  • I play this game all the time – probably a little too frequently. I think of the chunk ( over $1000) that could be used in so many other ways rather than debt. But like you I would save for retirement mostly… Or perhaps pay down the mortgage.

    As for a tip to travel and work at the same time: piggyback your vacation with work trips to conferences. I needed up with a week in Europe after a weeklong conference there. Ended up being able to extend my flight and work paid – just needed accommodations (hostels back then) and my money for attractions/food. The ticket was $1200, so it saved a bit chunk of cost for me.

  • We are paying down our mortgage like crazy- like commenter Allison, we want to pay it off and then use it as a rental when we are done living in it.

  • FI Pilgrim says:

    I’m a fan of eliminating the mortgage debt too, for exactly the reasons you list. We will be so flexible in another 18 months once that’s paid off! Obviously it doesn’t make financial sense in a bull market, but there are a lot of factors in our decision to go that route.
    FI Pilgrim recently posted..FI 101: Two Stages Of DebtMy Profile

  • Brian says:

    Mortgage is non existant for us. We paid straight cash homey for our house.

    We would move to either Ireland (this is most likely going to happen since I am a citizen there) or Austria (slightly less likely, but still possible). We want our child(ren) to experience different ways of life besides the American one, so we are going to move somewhere for a few years.

    For travel and work? Get a magic jack. With wi-fi and a phone you can call back to the states and it is still a local call. I don’t know how much of your job involves calls (vs skype, facetime, etc), but this worked really well for my father in law and my cousin who flys for UPS. The quality isn’t perfect, but for the cost it is fine. Also get a couple universal adapters and a nice powerstrip. You can never have enough outlets and hotels seem to think the amount they provide is enough, which it never is

  • We’re not really attacking our mortgage as we don’t believe we’re going to be in this house forever, although having that extra $1,000 or so each month to throw at retirement would be awfully nice. :) In terms of the carry on if I were traveling for two months, I could totally do it.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..How to Reduce Your Stress Level During the HolidaysMy Profile

  • If all the debt was gone then I would be self-employed full time. The debt including the mortgage is by far where most of the money goes. We don’t live a super high cost lifestyle and enjoy long bike rides–not expensive. I would pay off the mortgage and working to getting it paid off once the student loans are gone. So hopefully everything knocked out in less than 5 years.

  • When I work/travel, I usually get up at 6:00 a.m. and work for a few hours before everyone gets up. I’ve done that in Mexico, the D.R., etc. People think I’m crazy but I would rather get my work over with and enjoy the day.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..Cash Money: $5,650 in November Income and Blog UpdatesMy Profile

  • Nice work on the living room carpet! You bring up a very interesting point about not wanting to be aggressive with the mortgage because you are considering moving. I had not considered that angle! Best of luck in your new home search.
    Dave @ The New York Budget recently posted..The Groupon TrapMy Profile

  • My life would be a lot easier for sure. I would love to be debt free but its something that I hope to be sooner than later.
    Debt and the Girl recently posted..Feeling a Little Stressed Out Lately…My Profile

  • Jason B says:

    If I didn’t have any debt I would take a 6 month trip to Europe.
    Jason B recently posted..My Price is Right ExperienceMy Profile

  • Great post!

    If I didn’t have debt, I don’t know what I would do. Debt has changed my life for the better, so I don’t really want to think like that.

    We won’t be killing our current mortgage, but will the next one.

    My wife and I love the mountains. We would probably take everyone to the Rockies.

    I am already doing what I love, so I am good there.

    Yes, I can bring it all in on suitcase if I were traveling.

    My largest personal finance mistake(s) were credit card debt, buying a Jetski and leasing a car.

    I can’t think of the last great deal that I got.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard ReviewMy Profile

  • What would you do in life if you know for a fact that you would succeed?
    I would be a personal one on one tutor. There isn’t really a large enough market for it where I am.

    If you were to travel for 2 months, could you bring just a carry-on suitcase?
    No way. When I studied in Mexico for 6 weeks I took two checked bags and a carry on. I even forgot important stuff like pencils for my classes.

    What is your largest personal finance mistake?
    Taking out the maximum student loans for two semesters.

    What’s the last GREAT deal that you received?
    When I went shopping this past week I saved $30 on Christmas gifts by using promotional store coupons. I also saved $23 and only spent $16 on 4 packages of diapers. That was my most recent great deal.
    Jennifer @ Budgeting in Baby recently posted..When Generosity Goes too FarMy Profile

  • Jon says:

    Great questions. I’ll be adding a few of them to my material for financial fitness that I cover with our high school and college age folks at church. Here’s a few of my answers…

    What would you do if you didn’t have debt?
    This isn’t a glamorous answer. We’d keep doing what we’re doing now. We’ve been trying to avoid the lifestyle inflation that comes with being a young family and stacking back as much cash as we can. My wife and I both love what we’re doing and are surrounded by good family and friends.

    Would you pay off your mortgage if you could?
    Nope. I actually stopped attacking our mortgage after reading some of your previous posts. As a minister I get some special tax breaks associated with our mortgage, so it is actually to our benefit to keep a low interest mortgage and put our extra funds into retirement savings. We did refinance into the lowest interest rate we could find and knocked 10 years off our mortgage to boot.

    If you were to travel for 2 months, could you bring just a carry-on suitcase?
    Right now, no. Our youngest is just too little. But in a few years….yes! I think it would be an incredible experience for our family to see how little it really takes to live. We are working towards doing this in a few years when the kids are older.

    Thanks for the great questions to consider!

  • It must be an amazing feeling to already be doing what you want to do and to pursue your passions, plus not dreading waking up in the morning to do work! And at such a young age! Good for you! I do have a significant amount of student loan and will probably eventually take on a sizable mortgage since we live in NYC. Not sure when I’ll be debt free. My student loans are on a 25 year payment plan…I haven’t worried about it too much since they are very low interest.

  • Believe it or not, I’ve got very little debt. Just paying off the car and I’m done. However, I can’t say the little debt has changed the way I live. Even if I had debt, I think I would do things pretty much the same. As far as the best tip to work and travel at the same time, invest in portable internet. I know most hotels offer internet, and you can get it in most restaurants too. However, that’s not always reliable! Thanks for the great read!
    Josh with CNA recently posted..The First Steps To Take When Repairing Credit ScoresMy Profile

  • Angella says:

    I was typing out my answers and the comment was just too long lol. I’ll keep it simple:
    - No debt, I’d worry less, and enjoy life more. I’d travel too.
    - I would pay off our mortgage, just to get rid of that pesky monthly payment.
    - Netherlands!
    - Write/blog/crafty stuff.
    - Yes I could. I’m a light packer! Husband and kid are the problem lol.
    - Biggest finance mistake, buying a house too young, giving away a paid for vehicle, then leasing a new one. Ugh, stupid.
    - My house. Can’t beat $35k for a house on 2+ acres of land! This was one of my best decisions. :)

  • Kyla H says:

    Since I currently have around $50K in student loans, I’m pretty much always thinking about what I’d do without any debt holding me back. The first thing that comes to mind is traveling the world; I’ve never traveled outside the U.S. and I’ve always dreamed of exploring other countries and learning new languages. I really don’t want to let my debt control my life, but it’s really important to me that I become debt-free so I can fully enjoy my travels with little to no financial worry.

    My student loan debt is far and away the biggest financial mistake I’ve made. I really didn’t know what I was doing when I applied for all of those loans before and during college. Although I sometimes wish I never had any debt in the first place, I’m actually really grateful for my debt because of what it’s taught me at an early age: I know how to create and stick to a successful budget, I know how to save (and spend) wisely, I know the value of saving early for retirement and I understand the importance of having an emergency fund. I can’t wait to be rid of my debt but I also can’t deny the valuable lessons I’ve learned by having it.

    As for traveling for two months with only a carry-on…as much as I think “I could never do this”, I know that I totally could. And I know how exhilarating and liberating it would be to travel with as little baggage, both physically and financially, as possible.

    • Michelle says:

      That is awesome that you learned something from having student loans. I definitely can say the same. If I didn’t have them, I probably would have never started my business.

  • Lena says:

    We are not attacking our mortgage for the same reasons you don’t. We are hoping to be able to move within the next five years because we slowly outgrow our place. Plus, I would to be in a better school district by the time kids will start high school.
    Lena recently posted..Starting to work on our financial goals for next year…My Profile

  • Tanner says:

    If I had no debt, I probably wouldn’t be half as responsible and most likely wouldn’t have much of a goal as I do now. But if I did, I would have probably been able to move years earlier. I don’t have a a mortgage, but I have every intention of paying it off in less than 16 years. I really couldnt put up with it for 30 years!

  • if we didn’t have debt, we would have had $50,000 saved up already for our house down payment. however, i don’t think we would have ever become as savvy with our finances or learned to live off less than we earn if it hadn’t been for debt. we will never live to max every penny we earn now bc we know the importance of saving.

  • Awesome questions, Michelle! If we didn’t have debt, we’d travel more and experience more things with the kids

    If I could live anywhere, it would be somewhere south, likely TN or NC, but like you, only if my family and friends would come with. :-)

  • Catherine says:

    Right now I only think about life when we’re non mortgage debt free and it will be glorious. Though a big chunk of the money we’re putting towards debt will then go towards retirement it will be nice. Not starting to save for retirement until almost 35 means we have to make up for lost time. We’ll have a few hundred extra per month to play with taht we’ll allocate to travel/second vehicle.

  • E.M. says:

    If I didn’t have to worry about my student loans, I would also be putting more toward retirement and saving for travel. We aren’t ready for home ownership, otherwise I would say saving for a down payment. I have no idea where I’d want to live, there’s so many choices! Ideally, I would love to travel and live in different places for a few years at a time.
    E.M. recently posted..The Benefits of Living in a Low Cost-of-Living AreaMy Profile

  • 1. We’d be able to have more fun! I would have less guilt and stress about staying on budget and things would just be easier. We’d put a good chunk in savings and retirement, but would also allocate a decent amount to living a great life!

    2. Our mortgage is pretty low, I don’t think we would pay it off, but maybe!

    3. Right now we have a dream to live in Oregon. If I can manage to leave my whole family behind in California. Yikes. It’s a 3 year plan at this point.

    4. Tough question. I don’t know! I guess I would grow my blogs + design business, but I’m already working on that so I’m not sure what else I’d do!

    5. I think I could do it! I would try at least. We went to Mexico for 10 days and brought one large suitcase between the both of us so I think we could simplify and each do a carry on.

    6. My biggest financial mistake hands down was getting into debt at 18. My first CC limit was $6,000 and I didn’t stop there. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I’d have to pay it back. I just didn’t anticipate paying it back while also trying to pay for everything WHILE paying it back. I’m still working on that debt and it will be gone in 2014! And our timeshare. That was a more recent, stupid mistake that I knew we might make but we went to the presentation anyway.

    7. Our last great deal must have been our house. We first noticed it when it was priced at $160k. As it went down, and down, and down over about 6 months it finally went down to $90k and we couldn’t pass it up so we bought it.

    8. My best tip to work and travel at the same time is to do a lot of pre-work. Get as much done as you can before the trip and schedule an hour or so in the morning or evening each day during the trip to get it done. Working by the pool, beach or in some other scenic area is a bonus!

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