Debt-Free Living IS Attainable: If You Want It, You Can Have It
This is part two of my Getting Out of Debt: The Essentials series.
Before we start plowing into the specifics of paying off debt, we've got to build a durable mental foundation. This is so important that I've devoted the first two of seven parts of this series to cultivating this mindset. Acknowledging you have a problem with debt is the first step, but only represents half the solution. In addition, we need to recognize that living a debt-free life is actually within our grasp. In other words, if we want it...we can have it.
It sounds simple, right?
Actually, as I mentioned before, many of us have had decades of exposure to the "you'll always have a _______ payment" mentality. We've been conditioned that car payments, mortgages, student loans, and credit cards are not only acceptable, but actually normal. They've been touted as symbols of responsibility and status. The process of juggling the stress of these debts has been elevated to an art form.
I can tell you firsthand that breaking through this stuff isn't as easy as it appears. You can't close your eyes and chant "no debt... no debt... no debt." This isn't about positive thinking. And I'm not going to share any "secrets" or "laws."
But I am going to suggest this. Certainty is the key to accomplishing any of your goals in life. You've got to be absolutely certain that getting out of debt is beneficial. Even more importantly, you've got to be absolutely certain that getting out of debt is possible. It's got to be not a question of if, but when.
This type of certainty breeds confidence. The more confident you become at something, the more likely you will be to take immediate action. Isn't it easiest to take action on the things you excel at? Of course it is. Building confidence early will prove invaluable as we move into the planning and execution phases of this process.
Surround yourself with inspiration...
While we'll talk more about maintaining motivation later in the series, it's important that you surround yourself with inspiration when building your mental foundation. This can come in many shapes and forms, but here are some I've had success with:
- Personal Finance Blogs: Most likely, reading this means you already find value in a site like Wise Bread. In addition to this resource, there are many other great personal finance blogs, as well. I enjoy reading blogs from genuine people who are either passionately attacking debt or who are living examples of overcoming it.
- Personal Finance Books: My journey started with books before blogs. Although there are many choices to choose from, there are two that have had radical impacts on my life: Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez & Vicki Robin and The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.
- Create a Dream Budget: This neat trick involves literally writing out a budget as if you had no debt payment. Where would that extra income go? Where would you be spending and saving? This is a fantastic way to tangibly visualize the benefits of eliminating your debt.
- Network with people who share goals: Join or create a local group of individuals focused on getting out of debt. Do a workshop at your church. Talk to people in your family who are starting a similar journey. Networking like this, especially face-to-face, can help provide an enormous amount of accountability.
- Study Success Stories: Often times these are readily available on blogs, in books, and within your local community. Every Friday on the radio, Dave Ramsey has people call in and scream, "I'm Debt Free!" Whenever you read, see, or hear these stories embrace them. Celebrate the success and turn it into fuel for your own fire.
Insource the responsibility...
Ultimately there are many different paths and strategies to help you defeat your debt. We are going to be diving in and tackling many of the most popular. But throughout the rest of the series, remember that even though although these tactics can help, they will only take you so far.
Systems, strategies, techniques, tactics...whatever term you fancy. These are only going to provide you with a framework. Ultimately you are responsible for where you are now, and you are going to be responsible for your success or failure.
As we transition to more tangible advice, work hard to maintain your mindset. Do whatever it takes to make debt-free living a certainty. Dig down deep and find some of your own personal sources of inspiration. You're going to need them for the battle that lies ahead.
Between now and then, here are some additional resources on this topic:
- Is Personal Responsibility Dead?
- The Most Powerful Weapon Against Debt: Your Mind
- Should You Hate Debt...Should You Hate Anything?
What about you? Is it only a matter of time before you know for certain you'll be debt-free? Where do you find inspiration in your journey to pay off debt? Join in on the conversation by adding your experience below!
Getting Out of Debt: The Essentials
Over each of the next couple of weeks, an additional segment of the series will be released. The links below will be updated as each new articles goes live:
- Acknowledge You Have a Problem with Debt
- Debt-Free Living IS Attainable. If You Want It, You Can Have It.
- Get a Grip on Your Debt: Obtain a Clear, Concise Financial Snapshot
- Dissect the Source: Understanding Your Income and Spending Habits
- Plan to Win: Debt Reduction Methods and Emergency Funds
- Aggressively Attack Your Debt
- The Art of Maintaining Motivation while Overcoming Debt