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Why You Should Choose to Start Your Journey to Debt Free TODAY

Submitted by on May 20, 2013 – 12:45 pm 40 Comments

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Are you considering starting the journey to debt free for yourself?  If so, I think it’s imperative that you should go for it.  There’s never been a more crucial time as to the importance of financial security.  The reasons to free yourself from the debt that’s weighing you down like cement shoes is as numerous as the sand on the seashore.  But let’s talk today about some of the more critical (in my humble opinion) reasons why you really should start on the road to debt free today.

1.  The economy isn’t getting any better.  No one in their right mind can say that America is on their way back to financial prosperity.   The national government owed debt is over 17 trillion, and consumer debt in America is over 11 trillion.  Even analysts from other countries can see that we’re tipping on the edge of disaster.   When The Great Depression hit after the 1929 stock market crash, the world for America largely stopped.  Spending stopped, jobs disappeared, so income stopped.  Bills stopped being able to be paid, and people didn’t have the money to put food on their tables, or pay their mortgage, which led to record foreclosure rates and families out on the streets.  The ones that survived without losing their homes and their ability to feed their children were largely the people who were living debt free, had some money saved (at home) and had learned to garden and produce their own food sources.

Sadly, though, we’ve become a society that largely depends on others, i.e., the grocery store, to provide our food.  “Tests runs” like Hurricane Sandy and others have shown us what happens when the mainstream ability to get food goes away: grocery stores are forced to shut down due to power outages and those bold enough to steal force their way in to grab what is in the stores, or stores that are open sell first come first serve until they’re sold out.

Americans are largely in a place now where, if some type of storm comes now, they can’t even afford to leave their city and seek shelter elsewhere, even if the roads are open.  Having your debt paid down or off, and having some savings in place, may not solve all of your problems if the economy tanks or a major storm sets in, but it sure would give you a lot more options.

2.  The day will most likely come for you when you want to retire.  That day may seem far off right now, but believe me: the years will fly by quicker than you think, and if you have an “I’ll deal with that day when it comes” attitude, you’ll likely be left with very little choices when D-day shows up.

Don’t be that little old gal or guy that’s forced to work a job you hate because you need to eat.  Instead, be the one who can truly enjoy the golden years.  One of the reasons we’re choosing to get out of debt and step up retirement planning now is because I can’t help but think about my grandparents, and the many other people in my family, who are in their 50’s, 60’s, and beyond, struggling, like they’ve always struggled, to pay the bills and find food to eat.  We don’t want to be those people anymore, and we certainly don’t want to be those people when we’re 60, 70 or 80.

3.  The physical and emotional stress debt causes is dangerous to your health.  The stress caused by debt and money problems increases your chance of heart problems, affects your sleep, and increases your chance to respond with anger over a situation.  How many times have you yelled at the kids, fought with your spouse or spent the night lying wide awake in the dark because you were freaking out about money?  It’s time to make a plan and stop letting debt ruin your life.

4.  It’s not just about you.  If you have a family, then your debt isn’t just harmful to you, it is harming your family too.  Kids often place undue pressure on themselves when there are money problems abound in the family.  We experienced this firsthand when Rick was laid off 3 years ago.  Our oldest daughter felt immense pressure to bring income into the family, no matter how many millions of times we tried to convince her that this was not her responsibility and that we were fine.  Why?  Because she knew our money was a mess, and oldest children often feel responsible to care for the family, like they’re mini-parents.  Also, if you are the spender in the family, you are likely placing undue stress on your non-spending spouse, and, forgive me for being blunt, but that’s just plain selfish.  Start making your spending choices not just based on what you want, but on what’s best, long-term, for the entire family as a whole.

5.  You never know what the future will bring.  Economic collapse, job losses, health problems; there are a myriad of things that could happen in this world that could quadruple your debt problems overnight.  Some even talk that debtors prison may return, and some say that it is happening now.  In Biblical times, if you were a family that could no longer pay your debts, hubby went off to prison to work them off.  If hubby was out of the picture, they took the kids.  If you couldn’t pay your taxes, your lovely daughter was seized by the Roman guards to pay off your debt, and I think you know what I mean when I say “pay off your debt”.    This was real back then, and some speculate that it can be real again.  No  matter how small the chance is of these things happening to your family, is it really worth the risk?

In you are heavily in debt, like we are, it’s time to stop pussy-footing around and making excuses for why your situation is the way it is.  Step up to the plate and start working to change your situation – now – before you have no choice in the matter.

40 Comments »

  • “Step up to the plate and start working to change your situation – now – before you have no choice in the matter.” Great point Laurie and I could not agree more. I know it sucks to admit the problem, but the sooner “you” step up and start chipping away at it the better.

  • Michelle says:

    Good post. We definitely want to be debt free and able to pursue jobs that we love!

  • Matt Becker says:

    All great reasons to be debt free. It’s so important to take charge of your life and make choices based on what you truly want, and being debt free is a huge step towards being able to do so.

  • You can only make a change if you actually do it. Today is the day to start. Why not today? Why wait until tomorrow? Great post Laurie.

  • Pauline says:

    Pretty scary to see how much we rely on third parties for our most basic needs! I like to think that I am pretty independent and could go on with life but every time the power runs out I am lost!
    There is no better time to start getting on track with finances than now. Well, there was yesterday, but you can’t undo the past so now will do!

    • Laurie says:

      Isn’t it? Pauline, you are much further along in that independence than most people, that’s for sure, due to diligence and hard work!

  • Debt Blag says:

    Yup. These are all great reasons! It’s so great to be aggressive while you have the capacity to be so that you can either weather the storms a little better or so that you can live it up even faster 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      You’re so right, Mario! The list of reasons and the possibilities when you finish the journey is nearly limitless!

  • I like this post. You’re right that there really isn’t any reason to delay working toward becoming debt free. Waiting only makes it harder.

  • There’s lots of reasons that people should hang up their negativity towards debt and start putting effort into paying it off. The more we cling to the “I will have debt forever” or “It’s not my fault” thinking the longer it will stick around. Debt waits for no one and no one solves debt but yourself. Great post!

  • I completely agree with you, Laurie! The uncertainties and stress debt causes are the exact reasons my wife and I are trying our hardest to be completely rid of all debt as soon as possible. I understand that you may be able to make higher returns in the market than the interest rate on the debt you’re paying off, but the mathematical part isn’t the only thing that should be considered (and that is coming from a mathematical person).

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, we feel the same way. Our mortgage is at 3.5%, but we will definitely get rid of it completely before doing any serious investing, just b/c of the stress factor. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jake!

  • Great post, Laurie! You made some excellent points. Some people definitely delay getting out of debt because they’re enjoying living beyond their means too much and are still able to scrap by. While I find others want to get out of debt but are frozen in fear or overwhelmed by what they need to do. It’s why I think it’s so important that we as a PF community offer useful solutions and demonstrate that it can be done without demeaning them or making fun of them. We’ve all made money mistakes and showing them how to own up to them and move on is what will help them move from debt-ladden to debt-free.

    • Laurie says:

      SO true, Shannon! We were definitely (and are still) in the barely able to scrape by category, and it’s no fun. I know the support of good friends and the PF community is a primary reason we continue to hang in there. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Less excuses and more action would certainly help people start moving out of debt. It doesn’t matter why you got there or how long it takes to get out, if you never accept responsibility and change, you are dependent on so many other things to keep you afloat. Without debt, you would have the ability to have savings or stockpile, or even whether the loss of a job. We aren’t there yet, but we’re closer than we’ve ever been, and it does give you a much more optimistic feeling about the future.

    • Laurie says:

      Kim, thanks SO much for sharing your experience. I know it’s encouraging, especially for us, to hear wisdom from you and others who are nearing the finish line. Congratulations on all that you’ve accomplished!

  • Absolutely true: we can’t rely on market fluctuations to bring about a better personal finance situation. So much of this comes from habitual changes.

  • Well said! I’m working a job right now that I don’t “love” but I’m working towards saving enough and being stable enough to quit and follow my passions. live is too short to be indebted (literally, or figuratively to other people).

  • Like most addiction, getting out of debt starts with admitting there is a problem. After that, it’s just discipline and time. It’s definitely something to tackle head-on!

    • Laurie says:

      I totally agree, Nick. I think that’s the hard part, often, is the time and discipline it takes to follow your plan through to the end. I know that for us, that’s one of the things we struggle with most. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

  • Sicorra says:

    Great post Laurie! Many good reasons why a person should get their debt paid off as soon as they can.

  • CashRebel says:

    Laurie, this is quite an ominous post. Its probably useful to think like that in order to convince yourself to get out of debt, but I take an optimistic approach to building wealth. Sure society could collapse tomorrow, but its lasted this far, so you.might as well save and invest so that you’re good to go when society doesn’t collapse.

    Thant being said, I’ve never been in a ton of dent, so I guess I don’t really know what its like.

    • Laurie says:

      CashReb, you’re lucky that you’ve never been in a lot of debt. It’s horrible in so many ways. You are at the complete mercy of the banks/credit card companies, really, because they own you. You’re forced to go to work to pay them back. After doing extensive research on the Great Depression, and reading about what so many families went through due to having debt, I believe it’s imperative to get rid of it ASAP if you’ve got it. Given the amount of government debt and consumer debt America has right now, a huge crash isn’t all that unlikely, I’m afraid. 🙁

  • No better day than today to start – how right!

    It’s interesting that you brought up how dependent we are on electricity and the food supply chain as I’ve been thinking about that recently. I’d really like to learn more about what’s edible around where we are, because there are apparently a LOT of edible plants that are around and completely ignored. It would be amazing to be able to trim the neighbor’s cranberry hibiscus hedges and then make a salad for lunch out of it!

  • Mackenzie says:

    Great post Laurie! You are right, it’s time to get out of debt, and retirement is really not that far away.

  • Jake w says:

    GooD stuff and totally agree 🙂
    Getting out of debt and getting onto investing and making
    one’s capital work hard is so important.

    I saw your comment on troys blog re investing
    and thought I’d let you know I’m doing a series of videos on the
    basics of investing. Having done it since 2006, and beaten the market since (aside from 07-08)
    I would like to be able to assist people wanting to learn more..

    Hope I can help out!

    Best

    Jake w
    @jakew99
    YouTube.com/jswinbrum99
    Waystofattenyourwallet.blogspot.com

    • Laurie says:

      Jake, thanks for sharing the video series – I appreciate you letting me know! We are EAGER to get out of debt and begin building wealth. Have a great weekend.

  • Amen to #1! I used to make excuses for myself because of the economy, but the economy could never recover. Do I really want to sit around and complain all my life? Besides that, there are plenty of opportunities in a down economy, just as in a wonderful bull market. It is just a matter of figuring out how to take advantage of the situation.

    • Laurie says:

      Scott, great points!! We were terrific too at saying our situation was a mess because “we don’t make enough money”. Then I started reading around on the Net and found LOTS of people making what we make and even less, and making it work! There’s always a way. 🙂

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