A key step toward our debt-free future was not the fact that we made a healthy income – it was refusing to feel entitled to the money we were making.
It is no secret that my husband and I are attorneys—and proud of this fact. It makes us proud that we conquered mountains (both seen and unseen), and socioeconomic and mental barriers to become successful, practicing attorneys in reputable law firms. There aren’t many minorities in our position and nothing will take away our pride in the fact that we add to this story.
But the danger with our position is the culture is offers. There is a culture of excess that comes along with being an attorney. We work long hours and so it’s easy to succumb to the temptation of the vacation to the place you always dreamed of, that steak (and 9 drinks), that outfit that can pay rent for a family of 4 for two months, because you feel like you deserve it….and because you have the cash flow to afford it. This culture of money quite literally conditions us to believe we deserve to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Sadly I’ve met more firm attorneys living pay-check-to-pay-check with loads of debts than one would expect to exist.
At some point within the first 2 months of working, my husband and I decided we wanted to be different. While on the surface we were like every other millennial with tons of debt, we knew that we did not have to adopt choices that would extend the life of our debt, or mindsets that were comfortable with prolonging the life of our loans. Although debt repayment plans can be utilized in times of need, we refused to allow debt to remain a line-item on our monthly budget for the next 20 years if we now had the capacity to live a different reality. By choosing to live below our means we knew we could pay off our debt with lightening speed (and prevent others from profiting off the interest).
I think no matter how much you make we all are tempted to enjoy our money since we typically worked hard for it. Yet, simple math will show that you cannot pay off your debt unless you live below your means. By accepting this reality, and refusing to adopt a mind-set of entitlement, you are equipped to begin building an effective plan toward debt freedom.