Ever thought about what it would feel like to be debt free? The anticipation and excitement of making that final loan or credit card payment, officially signaling the end of your get out of debt journey? The thought alone can be euphoric. If it were only that easy.
With outstanding student loan debt tipping the scales at more than $1 trillion and consumer revolving debt weighing in at $858.4 billion, it’s not a stretch to say that debt has become a way of life in America, and an overwhelming nightmare for many.
However, there’s an emerging trend among people who have paid off serious debt.
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The Wall Street Journal recently reported that some people are celebrating the accomplishment of getting out of debt by throwing a loan-payoff party. We’re not talking about a small, intimate get-together with a couple of close friends or family members. No, we’re talking a huge celebration bash with 150 of your nearest and dearest friends, family members, and online supporters — who are so excited about your success that they’re willing to travel from as far as 200 miles away to celebrate your victory with you.
That’s exactly what Cherie and Brian Lowe did last spring when they reached their four-year goal of getting out of debt by paying off a total of $127,482.30. Throughout their journey, Cherie wrote about the family’s quest to be debt free on her Queen of Free blog, which is where those online supporters followed along and rallied for her along the way.
The Lowes aren’t the only examples of consumers who have overcome and paid off significant amounts of debt. One consumer from Manhattan will host her celebration party on Jan. 25, after she makes her last credit card payment and successfully pays off $37,000 in credit card debt. Then there’s the 29-year old Harvard graduate who paid off $90,000 in student loans in seven months. He chose to forgo the party route because he simply didn’t have the money to throw one, but it’s a huge success nonetheless.
[Related Article: 3 People Who Dug Out of Deep Debt]
Some might argue against the idea of paying for a celebration blast but hosting a loan payoff party doesn’t have to cost a fortune and you can turn the celebration into a charity event that gives back. The Lowes hosted the bash at their church, and instead of hiring a caterer, they made it a potluck type event and bartered with a local cafeteria for the main dish: fried chicken. They also encouraged everyone to empty their change jars and donate to a local nonprofit group.
Don’t let the celebration or their success fool you into thinking that getting out of debt was easy. Each of these people made sacrifices and cutbacks. They picked up side jobs — babysitting, a part-time front desk job at a gym, waiting tables, bartending or side contracting engagements in order to succeed at their debt elimination goals. For people like the Lowes, it meant cutting back on luxuries and entertainment like family vacations, eating out, going to the movies and even limiting Christmas gifts for their kids. It may sound extreme but the Lowes’ decision to limit their children’s gifts to “something to read, something to wear and one great toy” for Christmas, and one extracurricular activity at a time ensured that their kids wouldn’t do without even on a limited budget. And now that they’ve paid off their debt, they plan to focus more of their money on college funds and retirement savings.
It just goes to show that even though getting out debt can seem like an almost impossible endeavor, there is hope — and people like the Lowes prove that it is possible. Sometimes, you just have to find the right incentive and a little inspiration to get you there.
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Image: Garry Knight, via Flickr