A Life Without Debt: Work Doesn’t Have To Be A Drag

My last “real job” where I worked full-time for someone else was a mess. There was sexual harassment, bullying, unfair hours and demands, and all sorts of other foolishness going on. I was young and hadn’t yet saved up a large emergency fund, so leaving wasn’t possible unless I had another job lined up. Not so easy in the recession of the early 90’s (much like today). To leave would have meant living on credit cards and, since job prospects were very low at the time, probably racking up debt that I’d still be paying for today. As miserable as I was, I wasn’t willing to do that, so I saved money like crazy and took a part time job so I could save up a big enough cushion to leave. I had to stay in that miserable place because I didn’t have any other choices. By the time I finally saved enough money to leave, I was depressed and hating life.

At least I didn’t have any debt. If I had, I would have had to stay much longer so I could keep on paying those bills. Debt would have slowed down my goal of buying my freedom. When I finally left, I knew then that I never wanted to be in that position again. I never wanted to be in a position where someone else had that kind of power over me simply because I didn’t have enough money to move on. I vowed that if I ever had to work for someone else again that I would be in the driver’s seat. I would be free to take or leave the job based on factors other than money.

Living debt free has made keeping that vow possible. Because I’m not mired in debt and have saved a large amount of money, I’m much freer to choose my own path. I haven’t worked full time for someone else since that mess. I’ve taken many part-time and temporary jobs to explore new fields, learn new skills, and to supplement my freelance income. While none have been as bad as my last full time job, there have been some losers in the bunch. I’ve been free to walk away because I don’t have to have the money. I’ve also been free to take some great, fun, but low paying jobs because I don’t have to have a large salary to pay off lots of debt. I’ve been free to develop my freelance business to the point where it provides all the money I need. Had I been stuck under a lot of debt I would have had to take any job, no matter how much I hated it. I probably wouldn’t have been able to launch my own business because I’d be too tired from chasing the paycheck for fifty hours a week.

I know too many people who are miserable at work but cannot leave because they need the paycheck to pay for the cars, houses, toys, clothes and other items that they’ve bought on credit. They have no savings to live on while they find a better work situation. I feel for them because I know what it feels like to be trapped in a miserable work environment. The only way out is to literally buy your freedom. You have to pay down the debt and save up enough money to walk away. Then you can walk away, do your own thing, and enjoy the freedom to work only at things you enjoy. But as long as you have to make payments, your boss can take advantage of you, yell at you, and make ridiculous demands of you and you can’t say anything because you need the job. That’s an awful way to live. We spend too many hours of our lives working to waste them in a miserable situation.

I won’t rule out working full-time for someone else in the future, but it’s going to be on my terms next time. Thanks to debt free living, I will be in a position to be very choosy about which job I take and to walk away if things go sour. I will be able to be firm with my superiors and refuse to do anything that’s demeaning or unreasonable. No one will be able to take advantage of me again and make my work life a living hell. Because I’m debt free and don’t have to take just any job to pay the bills, I get to make my work life what I want it to be: An enjoyable experience where I get to do things I enjoy with people I like and respect. Not a bad trade off for living debt free.

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12 Responses to A Life Without Debt: Work Doesn’t Have To Be A Drag

  1. Roman says:

    Glad to see that you are debt free :)
    I totally agree that monetary freedom is what allows us to do what we want in life – if you have enough money you don’t have to let someone to yell at you just for the paycheck!

  2. I’m sorry you felt taken advantage of Sadie. I wouldn’t let one or several bad experiences get you down.

    Many folks don’t find work to be a drag and enjoy their health insurance and steady paychecks. I know I do!

    I think the best is to work at something you like, but do on the side what you really really love and do it full-time once you have enough funds.

  3. sup says:

    Isn’t that everybodys dream, to work for themselves only?

    I’m glad that you were able to realize that dream for you. :)

  4. I love that you can choose what job you want to do that makes you happy. Having savings and not buying a home or cars probably helps that feeling a lot.

    A few years ago I took a good full-time job in technology and left the career of my dreams in the arts. While I miss my short-lived arts career, I still feel like I made the best choice. The adventure of new-job/new-town every 3-6 months would have quickly worn off, and the compensation definitely didn’t make up for the trade-off of having no life, real friends, home, or family.

    Overall I’m happier now than I would have been, but every once in a while I miss my old job…

  5. Alexis says:

    To Comment #1 – I love this comment! This is exactly what I’m finding out might be my plan. It helps to have it articulated. Thank you.

  6. Alexis says:

    Whoops, meant comment #2 – financial samurai’s comment. My mistake.

  7. Thanks Alexis. Feel free to stop by my site one day!

  8. Indeed, debtfree = freedom

  9. It’s a great benefit, not just money. Debt free=Me free.

  10. Joseph says:

    Have to say sorry that you felt that way! and Congratulations that you moved on to be the driver!
    This is the very special gift that each human being has… the ability to make decisions that ultimately determine your destiny. It is easy for some people and hard for others based on their cirmustances but as far as career goes.. the secret is doing what you love to do even thought you were not being paid to do it.
    Debt factor complicate this choice, if we can teach our children about debt, we might have a heck happy generation that love what they do….

  11. Gail says:

    Hate your job usually equals spending more money for ‘treats’ and ‘gifts’ to compensate, miring you even deeper in the muck. Although I enjoyed many of the jobs I had, I always resented the time clock, the working holidays (I think I worked 11 Christmas Day’s in a row during my nursing career), the having to haul yourself into work sick because their was no one to take your place. With age though I have learned that every job I left, the company kept on surviving without me. None of us are indespensible, so when you get debtfree and can do it if you want, tell them to shove thier job. I walked out of my job in March of 02 due to being sick and have never been back as I am now disabled. I do wish I had had longer to complete my financial plan (I could see the disablity on the horizon) but the poor health hit much quicker than anticipated so I didn’t have all the things paid off like I would have liked.

    So glad you don’t let work define your life.

  12. michele says:

    I agree that you should pay down your debt as quickly as possible to buy yourself some freedom- to take another job but some people (esp. single people) need the job for the health benefits.

    Paying healthcare out of pocket isn’t cheap :(

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