Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Motivation to live a debt-free life

Nearly 6 years ago, I became consumer debt-free by eliminating over $20,000 in credit card and student loan debt in just 12 months after graduation – and it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

I struggled a lot with trying to end the cycle of using my credit cards, cutting back drastically on spending, and staying motivated. Because it certainly seemed a lot easier to just live with my debt forever. Or take my sweet time paying everything off. So what I ended up doing was writing down all of the reasons I wanted to become debt-free on a yellow sticky note. Then, I stuck it around my debit card to remind me on a daily basis why I was doing this to begin with.

Here were my reasons:

Your pay cheques will become yours

When I get paid, my money belongs to me. I don’t owe money to family, the government, credit card companies, or the bank – aside from my mortgage. I chose how every dollar I make is spent, saved, or invested, and nobody has the right to dictate how I allocate my expenses.

The bills will get paid

I don’t have to play the balance transfer game in order to make ends meet, and I don’t get anxious or stressed out about paying my rent/mortgage, bills, or having enough money to pay for groceries every week. If you’ve ever transferred money between accounts in order to make ends meet, or had a panic attack about how you were going to pay the bills, you know how amazing it feels when you can finally meet all your financial obligations.

There are more important things to life

Before I became debt-free, I could never completely focus on enjoying my time with friends or family because I was always obsessing about money. Thoughts about making my rent payments, or having enough money to eat for the next week consumed my thoughts. Now, that I am debt-free, I can focus on enjoying a relatively stress-free life.

Having debt means living in the past

When you burden yourself with debt, you are burdening yourself with the past. Living with debt means you’re stealing money from your future, and paying interest in purchases and decisions that you might have made months, or even years ago. Being debt-free means living in the present, and being able to look towards the future.

Debt will hold you back from your dreams

Having debt limits your options. So many doors open for you when financial problems aren’t holding you back. Whether it’s pursuing a new career, giving to c harity, buying that dream car, travelling, or retiring early – when you are debt-free, you are able to do whatever you want to do in life.

Your money now works for you

Instead of paying high interest rates on borrowed money, the money you would have put towards debt repayments, can be utilized to buy a house, save for retirement, or invest it in any way you see fit. It’s an extremely liberating feeling.

You can buy a home

This was potentially the biggest motivating factor for me. I’ve always been interested in real estate, but knew that in order to bet the best mortgage rate possible, I needed to first become debt-free, and then save for a down payment. Eliminating debt means your credit score will improve, and that means a better interest rate when it comes time to get a mortgage for your very first home.

While I was working towards my dream of becoming debt-free, I never held a job that paid over $45,000. Instead, I chose to increase my income by creating multiple streams of income (I had three jobs), ditched my car, and found small ways to save on everything else. The pay off of being debt-free as soon as possible was worth it to me, and the idea of living the life that I had always envisioned for myself was what motivated me to keep going.

What’s your motivation to live a debt-free life?

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Liquid says:

    Great points to motivate people to live a debt free life. I think one of the biggest benefits of having no debt for me is it will make doing my finances a lot simpler :0) For some reason though I’ve been having trouble with my debt lately as it’s been going up instead of down in the last few years.

  2. Cassie says:

    Besides the freedom it provides, I also sleep better at night. I used to have a terrible time sleeping when debt was stressing me out. It’s much less of an issue now.

  3. Awesome motivation. Each person will have different motivation, but everyone needs to have motivation none the less. I pushed for debt independence because I was tired of being held back.

  4. These are all really strong motivators and points I can totally relate to. Congrats on reaching your goal so quickly!

  5. Pam says:

    Without a doubt – the ability to walk away from a heinous manager. I have had a couple of HEINOUS managers since I graduated college and knowing that I can look for another job and even walk away from a job for a couple of months really helped me out mentally. I feel so lucky that I have a great manager now.

  6. byrocat says:

    Making a career change (and this is one) takes a lot of thought and you certainly did the pros and cons and balanced your options. Congratulations! I’m looking at retirement down the line (less than a decade off, and I have a manager who wants me to develop my skills to a higher level and pushes me when I need pushing, instead of just coasting from year to year until I reach the “best before date”

  7. Thanks for the motivating post! We are close to being debt free :)

  8. Carolyn says:

    I Just got Debt free after many, many years! Great blog, I agree with all your points! When you’re stuck in a heavy debt situation it’s hard to imagine living the benefits of debt free living… but scrimping and saving to pay off your debt is worth it! I have no money stress anymore! I’m planning on buying a car in the next 6 months in cash and in 2 years am planning to take a year off to backpack around the world. Maybe after I’ll buy a home… all because I dug myself of debt and learned valuable life lessons. It’s not an overnight process but it can be done!

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