What is it Like to be Debt-Free? 8 Traits of a Debt-Free Retiree

What is it like to be Debt-Free_- Rebel Retirement

In a world where the average baby boomer enters retirement with mortgage payments, car notes, credit card debt, and sometimes student loans, debt-free retirees are free from the burden and struggle that debt can cause.

Living debt-free is liberating but requires certain traits such as determination, a positive attitude, and living within your means. Focusing on your own financial goals is essential. Therefore, it’s important not to care about what others think.

Don’t worry if you lack the traits; you can develop them. Let’s start your journey to debt-free living by discussing the key traits of debt-free retirees.

8 Traits of Debt-Free Retirees

No. 1 – Debt-free individuals are not materialistic.

They don’t emphasize “stuff”.  Material possessions are welcomed, yet worldly goods are not central to how they live their lives. Most of what they value has nothing to do with things, but more with spiritual growth and appreciation for the natural abundance around them.

No. 2 – They’ve made peace with money.

We all have certain attitudes about money that were developed in childhood. People living debt-free have come to terms with their conditioning about money.  My article on poverty consciousness explains more about this topic.

No. 3 – They are independent and counter-culture.

Debt-free retirees are self-reliant individuals who think for themselves. You won’t find them doing what everyone else is doing. Their choices are based on their own truth. They often take action while others take a wait-and-see approach based on what is trendy.

No. 4 – They live on a cash basis.

They pay for goods and services when rendered, eliminating finance charges that accrue with paying over time. Therefore, they wouldn’t dream of charging a latte to an overextended credit card.

No. 5 – Debt-free individuals are confident.

They don’t let other people influence them about money. They aren’t impressed by extravagant, self-indulgent lifestyles.  Nor are they embarrassed by what others may perceive as a humble lifestyle. Their decisions are based on personal choice, not societal dictates.

No. 6 –  They live within their means.

They are comfortable with a lifestyle that they can afford. Being debt-free is more important than impressing others. They don’t need instant gratification and wait for things to come in due time.

No. 7 – They have positive attitudes about money.

Money doesn’t hold power over how they live their lives. They don’t hoard it or fear its loss. Money comes and goes throughout a lifetime. Debt-free people understand that.

No. 8 – They know that abundance is everywhere and more important than money.

Individuals who see an abundant world are aware of our plenteous universe. They know there’s enough to go around for all. They gratefully accept what nature provides.  Debt-free people look for a bountiful world and don’t focus on lack.

How we became debt-free retirees.

Before Rebel Retiree and I decided to pay for everything on a cash basis, we had a mortgage, business loans, and some credit card debt.

To illustrate, we lived a typical suburban lifestyle that included kids, pets, a business, expensive vehicles, and a home in a nice neighborhood.

I won’t embellish this and tell you we were up to our eyeballs in debt. However, the debt that we did have needed to be resolved before we could move on to the life of our dreams.

Because we wanted to move, our approach was not the typical method of listing your bills, setting priorities, budgeting, and gradually paying off notes to become debt-free. Instead, we put the house up for sale and began selling the business’s assets.

These decisions let us pay off our debts with some money left over to start our new life. This began our debt-free lifestyle.

How did it feel to pay off our debt?

It was bittersweet and also a relief when we sold the house and the equipment. It was a relief because we had the money to pay off our debts.

Yet, bittersweet because much of what Rebel Retiree sold had served him well over the years. In fact, he made the sacrifice of selling many of his tools to begin a new life.

However,  this allowed us to embark on our rebel retirement journey.

The feeling of freedom after paying off our creditors is almost indescribable!  Consequently, we knew that we never wanted to pay for anything over time again. That included homes and vehicles.

With a clean slate, we relocated to another state and began our new life of debt-free living.

It’s not an extravagant lifestyle money-wise, but a very abundant one.

Between Social Security and a part-time job, we can rent a comfortable home in the woods where we enjoy watching wildlife and the changing seasons.

Simple lifestyle changes if you want to live debt-free.

Eat most of your meals at home. Eat leftovers the next day for lunch.

Brew your coffee. If you want a fancy dessert coffee, find a recipe and make it yourself.

. Get rid of most if not all of your credit cards. We use American Express for the perks including discounts on groceries and retail items. We don’t charge over what we can afford to pay when the bill comes the following month.  And we pay all of the balance when due. We never carry a balance or incur finance charges.

– Get rid of cable, satellite, Netflix, and newspapers. Read your news online and watch movies at home. Do a quick search on the internet, and you can find safe sites that stream quality movies from a variety of genres. YouTube also has a lot of free movies available if you’re willing to dig deep into the movie portion of the site (clicking this link points you in the right direction). If we desire to see a film on the big screen, it’s usually at Christmastime.

– If you don’t need a book for reference, don’t buy it. Check it out from the library.

– Find free activities to do in your area. We’ve attended many free seminars that have broadened our knowledge scope and met some very nice people in doing so. We rarely spend money on entertainment. I must confess, though, that we live in an area with many outdoor recreational opportunities that we take advantage of.

– Cancel your gym membership and exercise at home. Click over for my favorite yoga and workout videos.

– Get your utility bills down. I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but we heat our home with wood, and our water comes from a well. Our utility bills for the month, which is mostly electric, come to about $175.00.

Buy used vehicles. There’s no need to go into debt to buy a new car. Of course, you must realize that a used vehicle may require maintenance. However, a new car can have problems as well. It boils down to whether or not you trust the seller and are capable of doing repairs if necessary. Use your instincts and good judgment when making a purchase.

– If it’s not against your fundamental principles, shop thrift stores for used furniture and sports equipment that you can repurpose. We happen to live in a rural area where it is common for people of various income levels to shop at the thrift store.

– Buy your readers from the Dollar Store. They’re cheap and safe for your eyes. Read my article about cheap reading glasses. Dollar Stores have some quality household cleaners too. I like LA’s Totally Awesome All-Purpose Cleaner.

This list is not all-inclusive, but you get the idea. It’s simple adjustments anyone can make to achieve living within their means.

Furthermore, I’d like to note that although we live on a cash basis, it doesn’t mean that we don’t splurge, or buy expensive items. We simply buy them when we can afford to pay cash for them.


It’s a great feeling to be debt-free. However, it does require certain traits that can be achieved through personal development if you don’t have them.

Simple lifestyle changes can set you free from debt.  If you open your eyes to the abundance all around instead of seeing lack, your retirement years need not focus on money.

Last updated  04/22/22

Do you live a debt-free lifestyle? What are some tips you can share with us? And before you go, please take a moment to subscribe to our newsletter, and like us on Facebook!

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