What’s Keeping You From a Radical Financial Life?

Radical Financial Life

I was driving to lunch with a friend the other day and he asked me what my plans were for getting rid of the debt in my life.

He was referring to our mortgage.

This put me on the defensive and I quickly shared my philosophy on good and bad debt.

Then I straight up said I was comfortable where we were at. And it’s the truth. I have no plans to pay this debt off early under our current circumstances. I’m comfortable having it.

The debt allows us to have our own place, it’s at a low-interest rate, and we can use all of our excess funds to save for retirement. In fact, if anything, I’ll probably refinance it later on this year (I wrote this a while back. I’ve since refinanced).

The reason my friend asked the question: he is fortunate enough to be entirely debt free. He saved up to pay for his house in full and has no other consumer debt. A very radical move on his part. He shared with me that waking up every day knowing you don’t owe anything to anyone is a feeling I should strive to experience.

He said my spreadsheets and “acceptable leverage” couldn’t touch the freeing experience of being totally debt free. Who am I to argue with him? I’ve never experienced what he has. So I had to acknowledge his feelings and respect that he might be on to something.

I stopped to ask myself, “what is stopping me from completely getting rid of all the debt in my life?”

Are those barriers positive things or are they negative?

Am I creating them, or are they really there?

My point today isn’t to argue my particular situation or to debate paying off your mortgage. I want to hear from you about the radical financial moves you may be considering for the new year. I also want to know what might be preventing you from making your move?

I’m going to skip the part where I actually make the case for more radical financial living. That’s going to be different for every person, and I’m going to assume it’s something to be desired. But I will say this… if a more radical approach to your finances could lead to more freedom and happiness, then it’s probably worth pursuing.

Here are a few radical money moves that I thought of:

  • Skip the student loans and pay for school by working.
  • Save and pay for your house in full.
  • Save over 50% of your income for retirement and retire in your 40’s.
  • Give over 50% of your income away.

Don’t believe that these items are realistic? Check out the article I wrote for US News that lists names of actual people who have made these moves and more. (read: totally radical money moves)

Also, check out these suggestions from Twitter followers and friends:

Radical Money Tips by Tweet

There is no law preventing you from doing these things. So what are the barriers that prevent us from making them a reality?

Some of the things that come to mind are our traditions and customs. We just follow the herd. It might also be peer pressure from family, or simply seeing what the Joneses are doing across the street. It may be selfishness. Fear of the unknown is probably also a factor. Probably the biggest barrier: it’s freaking hard because we don’t want to sacrifice today for tomorrow!

In 2012, Mrs. PT and I will be doing some things to pursue a more radical financial life. One of those things may be attempting to get rid of some mortgage debt. We’ll see.

What barriers are keeping you from a radical financial life?

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About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon.

He created Part-Time Money® back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence.


    Speak Your Mind


  1. Terry Pratt says

    Several things are stopping me from getting rid of the debt in my life:

    I am unskilled and currently unemployed; the most I have earned in a year is $17K and currently I live on a poverty-level income.

    A student loan collector is taking 10 percent of my income every month.

    Punitive fees are causing this debt to grow each month rather than shrink.

    Obviously, at this rate, my debt will never be eliminated.

  2. Jeffrey Trull says

    I’m planning to quit my job in May and “invest” all that I can into working for myself. It’s definitely radical and risky (although I have been planning for it and saving up), but I need to find out if I can pull it off before I settle for a bull-time job.

    • Philip Taylor says

      @Jeffrey Trull Well I think you’ll get there Jeffrey if you want it bad enough. Who knows, you may find that your plans allow you to do it before May.

  3. MyMoneyDesign.com says

    My wife and I are moving closer and closer (year by year) towards being one of those couples that saves 25 to 50% of their income, but we still have a long ways to go. As much as I’d love to be debt free or live off of $12K a year or something crazy like that, we just can’t. Life was made to be lived, not to hoard all your pennies and live as if you were homeless. Sure there are things we can all cut out of our lives. But there are just some barriers to an extreme financial lifestyle such as a good safe home, reliable transportation, and nice family vacations that are extremely important to us.

  4. Money and Matrimony says

    Wow. I really appreciate you being so honest in your post. I really respect your position and your willingness to consider the position of others.

    I would have to agree with your friend that becoming completely debt free brings a certain level of peace that can not be achieved otherwise. One thing I know I didn’t consider before our pursuit of becoming debt free was the risk that comes from having debt. Just because we were able to make the monthly payments easily today doesn’t mean we would be able to do so tomorrow.

    • Philip Taylor says

      Thanks! Great points. I think you sort of make the case for getting rid of debts that aren’t associated with a sell-able asset first. For example, pay off your student loans first, before the mortgage, because in hard times you could sell or rent out the home, and you can’t get rid of the student loans. I know that’s a conversation for another post (e.g. http://ptmoney.com/pay-off-mortgage-or-student-loans/), but your comment about unpredictable tough times in the future.

  5. I don’t know how radical I want to be with paying off our mortgage. Earlier this year, we were totally debt free (we were renting) and that was awesome! But I do look at the math involved, our low interest rate and our better-than-average tax deductions and credits, and I think that we need to ramp up our 529s and IRAs before being aggressive with the mortgage.

    STILL — I think we could be putting a little bit extra toward the mortgage to at least do something. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition.