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The Debt Free Life is Fuel for the Wanderer

August 14, 2015

As mentioned in previous posts, Mrs. Saver and I are moving from Tennessee to the central coast of California. Unsurprisingly, we’re finding it to be pretty difficult in both the practical and emotional sense. There are countless obstacles and considerations, as well as increasing pressures to hit deadlines and meet certain appointments. Not only that, but there are numerous financial considerations to make every step of the way. Moving is an unbelievably stressful and expensive endeavor.

However, we do this to fulfill a deeper need — a need to wander; to experience things we never thought we’d encounter as we both grew up in small towns. Carl Sagan, in the opening chapter of his book Pale Blue Dot, captures the essence of wanderers:

For all its material advantages, the sedentary life has left us edgy, unfulfilled. Even after 400 generations in villages and cities, we haven’t forgotten. The open road still softly calls, like a nearly forgotten song of childhood. We invest far-off places with a certain romance.

This is a need that lives inside of many of us. However, as time goes on, the ability to seek out fulfillment through mobility has grown more and more difficult. Our ancestors long ago didn’t have to worry about mortgages, credit card debt, or soul crushing careers that held them in place. For them, movement was life. But as Sagan points out, the desire never truly left us.

These days, we’re not held back by beasts or the elements. Instead, it’s our financial burdens that prevent us from experiencing the life we want to live and exploring the unknown. Though some might relocate at some point in their lives, they could easily remain anchored to their past financial mistakes. For some, this could mean moving into a new career path with student loans that funded a degree they’re not using. For others, it could be a wrecked credit history that makes them unattractive to a landlord or bank, preventing them from living where they truly want to live.

When we fill our lives in debt, we attach ourselves to our past rather than giving ourselves the ability to set out on a new future. Want to leave everything behind and hike through Europe for a year? Don’t forget to pay down your student loans while you’re away. Want to sell your belongings and set sail for unknown waters? Don’t forget to set up autopay for your credit card balance. This is reality for countless people; seeking a life of wandering is not possible without being attached to the life they may want to leave behind. Big houses, fancy cars and lavish lifestyles are simply distractions from real adventure, and its these distractions that anchor us deeper into an unchanging, unfulfilled lifestyle.

If you find yourself with, as Mrs. Saver puts it, a desire to go, do, and see, it begins by unshackling yourself from financial burdens. Paying down your debt takes on a new excitement when you begin to understand that it just might be the only thing stopping you from taking that trip overseas you’ve always dreamed of or branching out into unknown territory by starting a business. If that speaks to you, get rid of your debt and get moving.

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  • Tonya

    Found you blog through rockstar finance! Love what I’m reading from you both so far. Why the move to California? Where in California. As someone who lives here, it’s definitely way more expensive than Tennessee. I think it’s the one thing that I think about regarding my finances all the time…whether it’s still worth it to live here. What are the pros and cons…etc. It’s a constant battle in my head. 🙂

    • Save Money, Dammit!

      Thanks Tonya! Glad you stopped by. I got a job at a software company in San Luis Obispo. You might be familiar with the town if you’re living in CA. The cost of living was definitely a major consideration for my wife and I, and ultimately I got a great offer that we were both pretty happy with. Our main financial goal is to increase our savings rate over time to allow for more saving and investing, so hopefully living in the area won’t hit us too hard in that regard 🙂 Thanks for reading!

      • Tonya

        That’s a beautiful area, and I also read somewhere it’s one of the “happiest places to live.” Good wine! BTW people just call it “SLO”…in case you want to fit in right away. 🙂 Sounds like you guys are on the right path for making it work!