I realized something today as I was thinking about the days that I was in debt. I was thinking about what might be my Financial Epiphany and realized that it came one day that I was paying my pile of credit card bills. I got mad. Really mad. At myself. That there I was spending nearly every last penny I’d earned day in and day out to pay for stuff that I had bought weeks, months, years earlier. It pissed me off. How could I be so stupid? What I had earned just that day was already accounted for to go to a credit card bill for something that I had convinced myself I needed so long ago.

I decided I had to stop and stop I did.

I’ve talked about the entire journey in a guest post at Paid Twice, Why Credit Cards Are Not My Friends. Still today, I think back on that time and how I thought I had it all. I had all the clothes I wanted, all the stuff I wanted, all the things a girl could ask for. But I was miserable. I think a lot of my spending was because of the eating disorder I had that I have talked about before. I can think back to times I would be standing in dressing rooms and try on a pair of size 24 jeans at Guess and be all proud that I squeezed my 5’11” frame into them so therefore I must buy them for the $88 price tag. Really, you could insert whatever clothing item you want. If it was the size I wanted to be and it fit, I bought it. Like I was proving something to myself or the world by doing so.

I feel sadness when I look back on those years. Sad for who I was. Who I thought then that I needed to be. I feel sad that I didn’t know better or know that I was looking for happiness in entirely all the wrong places.

If I had only known then what I know now. That happiness can’t be bought. Happiness isn’t a size on a tag or a label on a car or the size of a home. Happiness is being okay with what is. Happiness is not needing MORE stuff to feel fulfilled. Happiness is stretch marks from the pregnancies that carried beautiful children that add more to life than anything you can buy. Happiness is making a house a home. Happiness is love and friendship.

So here I am today, debt free. Do I ever wish I had more than my life can afford? If I am being honest, sure I do. But when I think of what I’d have to sacrifice to have more today, I know it’s not right. I know that being able to invest in the future is so much more important than what I might think I need today. My kids have what they need, I have what I need. And I can put money toward dreams of tomorrow instead of paying for yesterday now that I am debt-free. It’s a place I’d recommend to anyone. And I know it’s a place a lot of my friends are trying to get to. To just think of the possibiltites when you have all those credit card payments or other debt or house payments to put elsewhere – toward your life today and your life tomorrow. I know that it isn’t reality for many but I don’t do anything but cheer for those getting out of debt. Because I know how much better their life will be when it’s gone. I know this side of it so I can’t help but cheer and anticipate the day they see what I do. A brighter tomorrow. A more fulfilling today. It’ll come and it’s fabulous.