571,817.68 is a lot of dollars.
On January 18, 2009, this is how much I owed in debt.
After a decade of living beyond my means.
A couple of lousy real estate transactions.
And a failed marriage.
I have carried this debt for nearly three years.
Watching each month as the numbers crawled toward zero.
And yesterday, I made my very last payment.
New balance: $0.00.
If I stacked 571,817 dollar bills into a pile and weighed it - it would be 1,167 pounds.
That's literally HALF a ton.
The debt I carried weighed as much as a grizzly bear.
If I stacked 571,817 dollar bills - the column would be 205 feet tall.
That's over three times taller than any building in my town.
Longer than a space shuttle.
To say that I'm proud of myself doesn't even come close to doing this feeling justice.
This is one of the most monumental feats of my life.
Even more poignant. I am debt free today.
On the first anniversary of my blog.
During this process - I learned invaluable things about myself.
About money. About life.
I learned that it's not easy or comfortable to completely turn your life around.
Nor should it be.
I learned that most things worth having - don't happen quickly.
You put in time and effort.
And you slowly create what you want.
I learned that debt, poverty, wealth - none of these happen on accident.
They are deliberately created.
By the way we think. And the actions we take.
I learned that freedom is more important than a pair of shoes.
I learned that self respect is more valuable than living beyond my means.
I learned that I can completely take care of myself.
And that dependency is just another form of slavery.
I learned that pretending is painful.
And the truth will always set me free.
I learned that I can work. A lot. Sometimes three jobs at once.
And that hard work is something to be treasured - not avoided.
And I learned that this journey wouldn't have been the same without you, my friend.
This blog's monumental success was created by you. It spread like wildfire through your hands.
To your friends. To your coworkers and family.
You're the one that read it and shared it.
You gave me inspiration when I thought I might want to give up.
You gave me a reason to keep writing.
Each person that you shared with. Each friend that you told. Every time you liked my post. It matters to me. I wouldn't be here without you.