I wrote the biggest check of my life this week,
and became debt free.
As many of you know, we’ve been in the process of implementing a major downsizing move in preparation for retirement. This week was a big one for us, and worthy of a final article on our housing transition. I’ve been walking you through this process so you can observe how we’ve moved from a planning stage (read our downsizing strategy here) to an execution stage (read how we sold our house in 7 days here, and how we downsized 30 years worth of stuff here). Now, it’s time for the completion stage.
Today, we’ll focus on how the execution of the strategy has led to completing the plan, and achieving the desired result. We moved a lot of money around this week, and are now well positioned for financial independence within a few years. More importantly, it shows how a well thought out plan can lead to positive results, keeping us on track for this blogger’s objective of “Helping People Achieve A Great Retirement”.
On April 11, we received a large wire transfer into our checking account from the closing of the sale on our “primary residence”. The check representing the liquidation of our primary home’s equity, which we’d been dutifully paying into for almost 30 years. I smiled when my robotic friends at Mint notified me via an e-mail of a “large deposit” just received into our checking account…..(numbers deleted, I have to maintain SOME privacy out here!):
I’ve been looking forward to this email for several years now, and knew exactly what we were going to do with the money. Within 15 hours of receiving the wire transfer, I was writing the biggest check of my life.
A legitimate “6-figure” personal check for the payoff of our “cabin” mortgage, in line with the downsizing strategy we’d outlined in this article. Earlier today, I put the envelope in the U.S. postal service for our…
As of a few hours ago….
WE’RE DEBT FREE.
Dave Ramsey, eat your heart out! (those fans, like I, will get the reference to Dave Ramsey, a gifted man of God who has helped hundreds of thousands of folks to get out of debt.) After I published this article, I ended up tweeting to the infamous Dave Ramsey, “We’re Debt Free”! I figured it was worth a shout out!
I don’t write of our debt free status from a perspective of pride, and sincerely hope it’s not perceived as such. Rather, it’s an example of a long term strategic approach to personal finance and early retirement, and the achievement of a major milestone.
Several years ago we had developed The Vision toward a debt free life, which I outlined last year in my article on our Downsizing Strategy. The writing of that check was more than “paying off the house”. It was, rather, a symbolic moment marking the successful completion of this major strategy. With the stroke of that pen, a multi-year strategy was officially executed.
What a feeling of accomplishment!
This, more than officially achieving debt free status, was the true satisfaction of the pen.
When I looked online for the payoff statement on our cabin mortgage, I came across a line that read, in effect: “wire transfer preferred, if not, then cashier’s check requested.” NO WHERE did it say personal check NOT ACCEPTED. So, I made a decision based on principle.
Since 1987, my wife and I have written a mortgage check…..
For 30 years, a monthly check for our mortgage payment has dutifully flowed from our personal checking account to the mortgage holder we adored. (In complete transparency, we moved to electronically paying our bills several years ago, but the principle of “writing a personal check” stilll holds).
Today, a personal check would also flow. It was my final act of defiance.
They can take my personal check for a payoff, just as they’ve readily taken my personal checks for 3 decades. I’m only going to live this moment once, I’m going to do it my way. And I CHOOSE to pay by personal check. (Think about it, how often do you get a chance in life to write a check paying off your your final debt obligation? You can, I hope, appreciate why I feel giddy in writing about it….)
The Mortgage Is Paid Off.
A Lifelong Achievement.
A major goal accomplished.
It had been our vision.
And in the stroke of that pen, draining ink ever so smoothly onto the surface of my last personal check (ever) to a mortgage company….
….It became a reality.
Have you ever had a vision become reality?
If so, did you take some time to “celebrate” your achievement?
Our achievement was accomplished by many complex steps along the route. We decided to celebrate the steps along the journey. For example, we took a break after the home offer was finalized.
Today, I had only a minute to pause and reflect as I executed the final step in the strategy.
I was in my office, at work. Urgent e-mails barked over my shoulder as I took a few minutes to write that memorable check. A quick jaunt down the hall, en route to a coffee refill, and the envelope was placed in our outgoing mail system. A bit anti-climatic, I must admit.
Rather than saving all of the celebration until the final step, we enjoyed the journey. I’m glad we chose to do it that way. The achievement of the individual steps are worthy of celebration, and it’s only if all of the steps are successfully taken that the ultimate goal is achieved.
The “Celebration” I’ll remember the most
A few weeks ago, I posted, in celebration, a significant update to my personal Facebook page on our move to Blue Ridge. (By the way, to any of my faithful readers, feel free to “friend” me on my personal FB page, I believe in having a relationship with my readers and look forward to getting to know you. Forgive me if I mistake you for a troll and don’t accept your friendship, I’ll try to have a look and find clues that you’re a reader!)
The posting was a “life event” update, titled “Moved To Blue Ridge”. It was, in my mind, the most symbolic “celebration” of the entire downsizing process. To me, this was a symbol of our move to the mountains, and the achievement of an intentional change in our lifestyle toward what my wife and I have dreamed for in retirement. I love the fact that the update was posted within 15 minutes of having carried the final moving box into our cabin. The last of our friends to leave the cabin took the picture on their way out of our driveway, and I’ll treasure it always. Here’s the post:
The title of this article is a direct result of that Facebook posting. One of my good friends replied with the following:
“When The Vision Becomes Reality”
The title, first suggested by my friend Kirk’s comment on my Facebook page , now proudly resides at the top of this, my 97th article. Thanks, Kirk, for your suggestion on my Facebook post. (By the way, Kirk has written guest articles on my blog here and here, and is leaving this week for his bucket list item of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada! We’ll keep you in our prayers, Kirk & family, during your adventure! Be safe, and enjoy the experience!)
How about you? Do you have goals that you’re striving to accomplish, or are you just wandering through life? Take the time to develop a strategy, then write out some Vision statements about what you’re trying to achieve. Develop a plan to identify the steps you need to take to move from “here” to “there”. Celebrate when you accomplish the steps along the way.
Do it enough, and you’ll see a noticeable improvement in your ability to make plans become reality, and will begin to see a direct result from your efforts. In addition, you’ll help me to accomplish another of my goals in life…..that of:
Helping Others Achieve A Great Retirement!!