If you’re like we were, you might find after making the decision to get out of debt that you may have bit off more than you could chew. I know that many of you are in way over your heads right now. You’re facing a mountain that – let’s face it – is just too big. I know that, because that’s the situation we were in four years ago. Then things got better. And then, after a series of personal crises, they got much, much worse, and we had to start our journey to get out of debt all over again, with a debt load over twice as high as we began with.
If you’re feeling much too overwhelmed to face your financial situation, I’m here to tell you that you can get out of debt, but if you’re going to succeed, you’d better prepare yourself right now for the fact that you’ve got some work ahead of you. Because often what happens on the road to debt free is that the first few weeks are exciting: you’ve got a new plan, a new hope, and a new vision for your future. You might have some small successes that increase your hope and drive even more.
But often what happens after that, when you see how much more debt you’ve got to pay off, is that you start to really come to terms with just how big of a mess you’ve created. The truth hits home, and it hits home hard. You come to face the fact that this journey isn’t going to be finished in a year. Or two. Or three. Or five. Or maybe even ten.
Discouragement Does Happen
Your mind starts to play tricks on you. It condemns you for screwing up so bad. It tells you what a failure you are. And then it tells you that the pile really is too big, so you might as well give up right now and just enjoy life.
You see, what your mind isn’t telling you is this:
1. Those next 10 years are going to pass, debt free or not. Do you really want to be in the same financial place in ten years that you are now? Or would you rather face 2027 debt free and able to have the freedom to do what you want or need to do.
2. You really can make the debt go away. It’s hard to believe that’s true if you’re looking at a huge mountain of bills and not nearly enough income to free yourself from them. But as the old Chinese proverb says “The one who moves a mountain starts by carrying away small stones.” Don’t believe the lies that tell you it can’t/won’t happen. The only thing that will truly keep you from being debt free are your own fears and lack of effort.
3. The road is difficult, but you’ll be glad when you’re finished, and probably well before then. We’ve seen that personal in our own journey to debt free. We started out with a 65% debt-to-income ratio, got the consumer debt down by about ten percent, and then faced some family crises that caused our debt to skyrocket to over twice what it had originally been. I’m sure you can imagine what that did to our original DTI of 65%. And I’m sure you can imagine that we were ready to throw in the towel and give up on debt payoff altogether.
So we know about setbacks and how they can take the wind out of your sails. But I’m encouraging you not to give up. After a starting over, our consumer debt is dropping fast and our DTI is now down to 53% and our consumer debt is dropping rapidly.
Some days it still feels like we’re never gonna make it. It’s been a tough road facing the image in the mirror.
But we also have come face to face with the fact that if we don’t do this now, we may never do it. And that’s something that we just can’t do to our family or ourselves. We deserve better, and so do you.
So how do you overcome those feelings of despair if you’re in a similar situation where your debt just feels too big to even bother starting to pay it off?
Find a Solid Reason Why
Make a list of really compelling reasons why you want to be debt free. Our list looked like this. Keeping a list of your whys clearly posted where you can see it often and use it to discourage you from spending will help keep you on track when the times get tought. Carrie over at Careful Cents had a great guest post on this at PT Money. Check it out by clicking here.
To keep you compelled: Love Your Life, Not Theirs: 7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want
Do Something to Improve Your Money Situation
Make impactful moves – no matter how small – that will give you some extra cash or some extra motivation to encourage you on your journey. Make a colorful chart that tracks your progress. Make a plan for a big celebration when you’ve reached debt freedom, like a dream destination vacation or an important purchase you can make with cash once your debt free.
Sell something. Or lots of somethings. Turn in your change jar or scour your pockets for an extra few dollars and immediately make a payment on your credit card to lower that balance. Every penny and every action really does count.
To show you a plan: The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness
Imagine the Future
Do you really want to be sitting here 10 years from now in the same place that you are in now, having the same conversations with yourself about money that you’re having today? Do you really want to continue to live this life of constant worry and bondage over money? No, you don’t. So decide in your heart today that you’re going to choose to walk this road. Decide that you won’t be held in bondage to debt anymore. And as the old Nike commercial says, Just Do It.
To help you envision the future: The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy
No, it won’t always be easy. Some days it might really suck. Some days you might be really angry. Or really discouraged. Or really tempted to stuff your face in a bag of Oreos. Or really tempted to run away to Jamaica for a week just to pretend to make it all go away.
But don’t do it. Don’t give up and don’t give in. Choose to live life differently. Choose success. Choose debt freedom.
Today’s your day to start turning over a new leaf in your personal finances.