OK fellow debt relief plan customers, how many times have you uttered the phrase, "When we're finally done with our program, things will be different because I'll finally be able to...." fill in the blank with your favorite out of debt fantasy.

It's been over three months since the final payment was made to my debt consolidation plan, and I'd like to share with you my favorite things that have changed with our finances.

You might be surprised at what they are.

Grocery Shopping:

How it was:

For the last four years, we've been on a very strict budget. Groceries are an area that we've focused very hard on getting the most for our money while staying within the confines of our budgeted amount for the week.  I'd walk through the isles with my calculator so I'd know exactly how much my total would be before even entering the checkout lane. Many times I'd have to sift through the cart looking for things to put back on the shelf in order to stay on budget.

How it is Now:

Our weekly allocated grocery budget is now best described by the word "squishy." I still have my calculator, and I still carefully weigh the cost of items against their value. But if the total is a little over the allocated amount I don't worry about it. Having some cushion in our monthly budget allows me to splurge a little at the grocery store if I want to make an extra special meal, or have an extra snack on hand for the week.

I LOVE that freedom.

Paying Bills:

How it was:

Have you ever played the "when is it really late?" game with your bills? I'm sure many of you know exactly what I'm talking about. Yes, there's a due date on your bills, but then there's the date when a late fee would be applied.

That's the REAL due date.

I was a master at this game, knowing that magical date for each of my bills. We would process the majority of our bills with my bimonthly paycheck from my primary career as a software engineer. But sometimes that wasn't enough to pay all the bills AND have the necessary funds for daily life. So, some would wait until the next paycheck from one of our secondary income streams, being paid just before we would be smacked with a late fee.

How it is Now:

Without our large monthly payment to our debt, we are now able to easily pay all our bills for the following two weeks with our primary income. I sit at my computer and pay bills exactly twice a month. That feeling of logging into a website and paying my utility bill ten days early?

Priceless. 

What do you fantasize about being different once you've completed your debt relief program?  

Related Links:

We Are DONE With Our Debt Consolidation Program!

Counting the Months to DMP Graduation!

We Will Celebrate Completing Our Debt Consolidation Program by...Waiting!

Travis Pizel, debt management plan customer with leading provider of debt relief, CareOne Services, Inc. Travis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the A Straight Talk on Debt blog. He is also a very active member of the CareOne community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). Travis candidly shares his personal journey to pay off his debt and the tips he's learned along the way. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family in Minnesota. You can also read more from Travis on the Enemy of Debt blog, where he is a featured blogger. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

To connect with Travis on Google+

You can follow Travis on Twitter @DebtChronicles