SO, you’re finally here: You’ve made the decision to make a budget, track your spending and get out of debt. But what happens when real life throws temptation your way? How can we make sure our good intentions turn into great results? Here are a few thoughts:
1. Work to avoid temptation. If shopping is your downfall, stay out of the mall. If it’s a lack of discipline at the grocery store, make a list beforehand and don’t let your eyes deviate from that list. If it’s gift-giving, make a pact with other family members at the beginning of the year that everyone will keep a limit of “such and such” for gift-giving.
Temptations are everywhere, and often seem to multiply when we make the decision to get out of debt. Know yours and have a plan in place beforehand to combat them.
2. Live in reality and face the facts. Don’t agree to meet your friends at the local bar for a football game and tell yourself you’re not going to order anything. Unless you’ve got enormous willpower (and kudos to you if you do) that’s simply asking for trouble.
Likewise, most other people in your world will likely not be on your same debt-reducing plan, so they’ll likely still be participating in the same spending activities as they did before. If this type of spending is not an option for you on your new budget, make plans to accept your new lifestyle and find alternative socializing plans for yourself and those around you.
3. Keep your goal at the forefront of your mind. It’s important to never stop visualizing where you’re going and what your end goal is. Refer to your progress chart and your motivational list often so that you don’t lose sight of the big picture and give in to short-term “rewards”.
4. If you fall off the horse, dust yourself off and get back on. When our oldest daughter was first learning to horseback ride, she took a bit of a nasty fall. But she knew that if she didn’t get back onto that horse immediately, it might be the end of her riding career. So she jumped up and got back at it, despite the worry and fears of her over-protective mother :-).
Nobody’s perfect, and we all fall short of our own expectations at one time or another. If and when it happens on your road to debt freedom, forgive yourself and get back on track. Remember: It’s the smallest amount of extra effort that separates “the good” from “the best”.
What are your tools for avoiding temptations to get off track?