There’s been lots of talk in the PF blogging world the last several days on how to pay off your debt. Anyone looking to get out of debt should seriously study tips such as those shared by Free Money Minute and Luke 1428 this week. Any road to debt free has to start with education if it is to be successful. Along with those crucial debt payoff tips though, if you’re looking to truly have the follow-through to start and to finish your road to debt-free, you need to have one vitally important ingredient: hope.
Why is hope so crucial to paying off debt? Let’s start by defining the word hope. Webster’s Dictionary defines hope this way:
Hope: a feeling that what is wanted will happen; to want or to expect.
If you don’t expect to pay off your debt, you can be quite certain that you’ll fail. Why? Because if you don’t expect to succeed at paying off your debt, then you are, by default, expecting to fail. You have no hope. And if you have no hope, you have no reason to make the necessary sacrifices and changes needed to rid yourself of the debt that’s hanging over your head. Does that make sense? Now that you understand the importance of hope in your debt payoff journey, here’s how to make hope work for you:
1. Define the reason for your hope. It’s time to define what you are hoping for and, more importantly, why. Don’t just tell yourself “I hope to pay off my debt”. Make a decisive reason for paying off your debt, as in: I want ( i.e. expect) to pay off my debt so that I can create a better future for my family/retire early/become self-employed, etc. Whatever your reason for having hope that you can and will pay off your debt, write it down and post it somewhere where you can see it clearly on a regular basis. Know what is the driving force behind your hope, or expectation, of paying off your debt, by using your motivational list to keep you on track.
2. Tie your hope to specific goals. Hope without action is pointless. It’s time now to set those specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, timely goals for your debt payoff plan, using your newfound hope to keep you on track with those goals. Using a clear budget as your guide, decide how and when you will pay off each of your outstanding debts. Make a chart if you need to so that you can display your plan clearly in order to keep yourself motivated.
3. Use your hope. Hope is especially important when you hit those roadblocks in paying off your debt, whether they be financial roadblocks, physical roadblocks, or emotional roadblocks. As Luke 1428 mentioned in his post this week on paying off debt, there are LOTS of ups and downs in a debt-free journey, and it’s important to be prepared for them. This is why it’s so important that your hope and your reasons for your hope be clearly defined. When the roadblocks come, you need to be able to divert your attention to the driving force behind your hope: your motivational list of whys and your debt payoff chart. Diverting your attention off of the roadblocks and onto your reasons for your hope will swell up an energy force within you that has the ability to propel you back into forward motion, if you are willing to work at it.
4. Exercise your hope “muscles”. Hope, like any form of strength, needs to be exercised. Every person is different; some are motivated by fear, some by excitement, some by achievement, etc. Use your imagination to exercise your hope muscles to keep your motivation for debt freedom strong and solid. For me, I exercise my “hope” muscles in two ways. One, by fear. I use “What if” scenarios like “What if Rick got laid off” or “What if our ability to feed the kids was threatened” or whatever. Using fear in this form helps me not to be tempted into spending money in ways that go against what we’ve got on our budget. The other motivation I use is more aspirational. I dream about being able to take the kids on vacations, or I imagine handing them a check big enough for a down payment on their first house, or I imagine what our mortgage-burning party will be like. Envisioning reaching our goals of debt free helps me to stay on track with our budget, and it also helps me to be more creative as I look for ways to trim expenses and save money.
The idea of hope sounds a bit cheesy and pollyannish at times, I know, but hope really does have a driving force behind it that is powerful and effective. Use hope today to help reach your impossible dreams.
How does hope help you achieve your goals?