We started our journey out of debt in January of 2013, and as of today, we’re just over 6 months into our road to debt free. It’s been quite the rollercoaster of a ride so far, but we’ve also learned and grown in ways we never imagined.
Let me ask you a question: Are you in a boatload of debt and considering changing your lifestyle to free yourself of that debt burden?
If so, there are some things you need to know. It won’t always be an easy journey, especially if you are choosing, like we did, to get extreme about getting rid of the debt. And I feel it’s only fair to give you a bit of advanced warning about some of the things you may encounter when you make this life-changing decision to free yourself and your family from the debt that’s weighing on your shoulders.
What can you expect?
1. Erratic emotions. This is the time, before you begin your journey, to start getting your emotions under control. Once you begin your journey to debt free, you’ll likely feel all kinds of different emotions. Some days, you’ll feel like you can conquer the world. Other days, the days when the reality of your debt situation smacks you in the face, you’ll feel like you’re being crushed by your mountain of debt, and that you’ll never get free.
Days will come when you simply want to give up because it’s too difficult and it’s taking too long. And other days you’ll be searching the streets for pennies because you’re so jacked up on the high of eliminating the debt.
It’s very important when dealing with these feelings that you either learn to talk logically and objectively with yourself about the fickleness of emotions, or have a good friend who will do it for you. Take it day by day, and have weapons in place to combat your discouragement on the days you feel overwhelmed. And when you’re having your good days, use them to your advantage: collect aluminum cans by the roadside, check the thrift stores for hidden treasures, or do whatever else you can do to catapult your goals.
2. A change in your friendships. When we started this blog and shared the truth about our situation, the gossip started to spread, even though we thought we were being anonymous. Some people lifted us up and are supporting us on our journey to this day, others turned their noses up at us, whether out of fear or pride, I don’t know. Did this bother us? Maybe just a bit. But when my husband and I sat down and talked about it, we realized that the “friends” who’d pridefully abandoned us were mostly people we knew we couldn’t fully trust to begin with, so no love lost there, and probably “good riddance” instead.
And on the other side of the coin, not only have some of our friendships been strengthened by revealing our debt and our plan to get out of it, we’ve also made some new, really great friends who are cheering us on to victory.
Whether you do it anonymously or not, f you truly commit to changing your lifestyle in order to get out of debt, people are going to get suspicious that you’ve stopped going out to eat, joining them on costly outings or skipping this activity or that. And it’s likely that people will find out what your situation is whether you want them to or not. Be prepared to strengthen yourself to handle their reactions.
3. Some rocky roads. I remember when we first started our plan to get out of debt, things were pretty smooth sailing at first. But then the usual life problems kicked in: unexpected expenses, such as car repairs, medical bills, and other things that happen that can tempt you to throw the debt payoff plan by the wayside. But just remember that if you stick to the plan, the time will come when those unexpected expenses will no longer hold you hostage, because you’ve got no debt and a healthy emergency fund.
After nearly six months of living super frugally, and learning to conquer the various happenings that work to get us off of our debt-slaying track, I can honestly say that we’re SO glad we’re on this road. We’ve got a long ways to go yet, but both my husband and I know that when we get there, it will have been worth all of the trouble. 🙂