Are you struggling with debt? Not sure how to take the first step and manage your way out. Here are three steps you can take to stop procrastinating and create your plan for success.
I hate cleaning the shower! I despise it. The strong smell of bathroom cleaner The fact that if you’re cleaning from outside the shower there is really no easy way to do it without getting everything outside the shower wet. The fact that the only really good way to clean the shower is to actually get in the shower. But who wants a bathroom cleaner all over them.
Every time I clean the shower I start thinking of some new invention, or some handy device that will allow me to do it easier. And then I seriously consider just hiring someone to clean the shower for me.
However, the thing I hate most about cleaning the shower is that I delay the process for about a week before I actually take action and clean it.
Once I realize I should probably clean the shower the week leading up to the big event is like carrying two 5 lb bags of sand around my neck. It weighs me down day after day as I think about the un-pleasantries of getting it done. (The reality is cleaning the shower only takes about 20 minutes)
Fortunately, once I clean the shower I immediately remove the bags of sand and feel a whole bunch better.
Carrying debt, being in debt, struggling with debt is similar. We know we need to change our situation, but the thought of sitting down to really address the issue and work our way out of debt can be an unpleasant process.
So We Procrastinate
And in doing so we load ourselves up with those sandbags and carry them around indefinitely. In fact, if we do it long enough we get to a point where it feels normal – an unpleasant normal, but one we get used to.
That normal creates stress, anxiety, fear and a bunch of other emotions we would rather not feel or think about. In addition, those negative emotions overflow into other aspects of our life.
Fortunately, like cleaning the shower there is a way to remove those debt sandbags, work your way out of debt and create a new more “happy” normal.
If you’re struggling with debt, here are three things you can do to stop procrastinating, eliminate those sandbags, and start the process of becoming debt free.
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- How Surviving Wisconsin Winters is Like Managing Your Money
Get Vulnerable with Yourself
I am a huge fan of Brene’ Brown and her research on vulnerability and how being vulnerable with yourself leads to long-term happiness.
Vulnerability, as it relates to debt, is your ability to look at your debt situation, recognize that you are the only one you can hold accountable for your situation, and identify that you are the only one who can take charge and work it out.
It’s not about beating yourself up over and over again about what you should have or could have done differently. It’s about being in the moment and recognizing it is what it is and no matter how crappy it feels, understanding you can change it.
Out of vulnerability comes courage, empowerment, and confidence to change the way you manage your money, and change things for the better.
If you want to get out of debt, get vulnerable and be honest with yourself.
Be Realistic about How Long it Will Take You to Pay Off Your Debt
When you’re in debt wanting to get out fast and get rid of the negative environment your in is a natural response. The problem is regardless of whether its credit card debt, a student loan or a car loan you have to be realistic about how long it will take you to pay off that debt.
You can’t spend five years accumulating debt and then expect to pay it off overnight. Setting the wrong expectation of how quickly you can pay off debt leads to frustration and an environment where it will be much easier to feel defeated if you don’t meet your expectations.
Being realistic about paying off your debt and setting the right expectations will actually alleviate a lot of the stress associated with the debt pay off process and over time will actually provide a sense of confidence and empowerment.
One way of establishing the right expectations for yourself and as a means of staying motivated is to create what I call a Five-Year Plan.
The FTP Five-Year Plan is a simple set of objectives (goals) you want to achieve as you progress down the path of eliminating debt. It’s what your new normal looks like in five years. It’s about outlining what success for you looks like.
In addition to defining your financial goals, it should address those areas that are positively impacted by the elimination of debt. For example, a simple Five-Year Plan might look something like this.
In five years my life looks like this:
- Debt free and have $5,000 in my savings account
- Not living paycheck to paycheck anymore
- I am saving for my kids’ education
- Back in school training for a new career
- I live in a new home.
In addition to providing you with a benchmark for where you’re trying to get in five years. It also allows you to set realistic expectations about your get out of debt plan.
You Have to Have a Plan
If you want to get out of debt you have to have a plan. With every great get out of debt strategy there are three key components.
- Budget. Budgets can initially feel restrictive and limiting, but if you don’t know where your money is going you won’t have a chance at understanding where and how to save or cut back – to improve your overall situation.
- Paying off debt. There are a host of opinions on what the best strategy is for paying off debt. Personally, I have found the Snowball Method as being most effective, especially if you’re consumed in credit card debt. The Snowball Method is simple to use and easy to understand, but most importantly it’s a huge motivator as you travel down the debt-free road.
- Emergency Fund. Not having an emergency fund is the number one reason people stay in debt. That next car repair, your air conditioner goes on the fritz, the furnace goes out. Having no emergency fund will lead you to take out debt to pay for your emergency and will keep you in debt.
Get rid of those sandbags that are dragging you down and affecting every part of your life. Start by using these three methods to start your journey to debt free independence. You can do it.
Feel empowered, live with confidence – start today!
- Daring Greatly, by Brene’ Brown – The go-to-book on learning about the vulnerability
- FTP Workbook – Free to download, create your own get out of debt plan.
Be sure to check out my complete series of eBooks that will help you eliminate debt, save money and start investing.
Do you struggle with debt? How does debt make you feel? Comment below.