Want to Master Your Debt? Think Like a Maze Runner

Have you ever been inside one of those massive corn mazes that are carved to look like a famous person or scene? When you were a kid did you collect books of mazes to solve, each more difficult than the last?

Mazes can be challenging and fun. And working your way through a maze is very much like working your way out of debt.

If you find that you're suffocating under a mountain of financial obligations, it's time to work toward becoming debt-free. And if you're an expert at solving mazes, you'll be able to apply some lessons to changing your lifestyle in order to achieve financial freedom.

Here are nine ways that getting out of debt is like going through a complicated maze.

1. It Can Seem Hard at First

The farm that my family travels to each fall has a massive maze, with five sections. It is mind-bendingly complex, and I always start off wondering, "How the heck am I gonna get through this thing?" But inevitably, I do make it out unscathed.

All big adventures seem daunting in the beginning, and the process of getting out of debt can certainly fill you with self doubt. The key is to take your time, focus on smaller and achievable goals, and not get discouraged by the bigger picture.

2. There's Always a Way Out

Every maze, no matter how big or crazy, has a way out. You may think that there's no way to escape, but there always is. No one is playing a trick on you and building a maze with no solution. Similarly, when you are fighting to get out of debt, you need to be aware that it's always possible to eliminate what you owe. Nothing is hopeless.

3. There's More Than One Path

There are no rules about how you get through a maze. The only thing that matters is that you make it out. Likewise, the journey toward financial freedom isn't laid out with specific directions. Sure, there are debt reduction plans that offer detailed steps to follow, but if you deviate from that, it's not the end of the world, as long as you are making progress.

4. You May Want to Give Up

My wife and I once got stuck in a large hedge maze, and couldn't find our way out. Exhausted and angry at one another, we very nearly called it quits and called for someone to rescue us. But we persevered, and methodically made our way through. It took longer than expected, but we escaped.

Getting out of debt can be like this. There will be moments when you feel like you're not making any progress. There will be times when you want to just quit and go back to your bad borrowing ways. Ultimately, you will realize that moving forward is the only way to go, even if it takes more time than you planned.

5. You'll Make Mistakes

You may think you are on the right track, but you'll make a wrong turn and end up back near where you started. You will hit dead ends. You may even have to start over from the very beginning.

When you're trying to get out of debt, you may not make the best decisions at every key moment along the way. You might overspend on an item, or fail to pay a bill on time. But that's okay, as long as you keep trying to get on the right path. Eventually, you will find yourself heading in the correct direction and closer to your goals.

6. There Will Be Unexpected Obstacles

Some of the trickiest mazes have rough terrain, tree branches, puddles, and maybe even the occasional Minotaur. Your journey to being debt-free will be filled with challenges you can't predict. You may be on the right track, only to lose your job or face an unexpected medical expense. Don't get discouraged!

7. Success Comes Easier When You Have Help

Navigating through a tough labyrinth is easier if you have a buddy. One of you can look at the map, while the other looks for clues. You can communicate about which paths you've already taken, and which way might lead to a dead end.

The same goes for getting out of debt. A partner can keep you from overspending on unnecessary items. A friend or family member can remind you about bills to be paid. They can also boost your spirits when the going gets tough. Don't go it alone!

8. You Might Enjoy the Challenge

People love mazes because they like a mental test. The challenge itself can be enjoyable for them. Reducing your debt can feel the same way. You'll make changes to your lifestyle that will be hard, but over time, you may find that you enjoy the tough work of seeing your obligations decrease. The actual process of saving, paying down debt, developing discipline, and achieving financial freedom can be satisfying in and of itself.

9. You'll Feel Great at the End

It's always a wonderful feeling when you complete a hard task. The sense of accomplishment is often unparalleled. Whether it's making your way through a dense and convoluted maze, or working like crazy to get out from under a mountain of debt, you'll want to raise your arms in triumph when it's all over. It's a downright super mixture of sheer joy, relief, and pride from knowing you worked toward a goal and got it done.

What navigation tricks have you helped escape your debt?

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