For years – years – Rick and I struggled to overcome debt. We failed every time. Oh, there were times of debt freedom, but we inevitably fell back into debt again. So what made the difference for us between failing at getting out of debt and succeeding at getting out of debt? One huge key was attitude. We learned to overcome the mistakes that broke people make and to stop believing the lies that broke people believe.
Another vital key was that we learned to understand what it was that was prohibiting us from getting out of debt in the first place. There were several habits and mindsets that were keeping us from succeeding on a long-term basis from dumping debt. Now that we’ve overcome them and are successfully dumping our debt, I thought it would be a good time to share what we’ve learned. Enter, 7 reasons why you can’t get out of debt.
Why You Can’t Dump Your Debt
You’re Not Understanding the Seriousness of Your Debt
People often times fail to understand that debt has to potential to destroy their lives. They fall for lies like:
- Everyone has debt
- I’m making the payments just fine
- I’ll be in debt forever
And then the SHTF and a job loss comes, or a major-league expense comes, or they piddle away their money for so long that they find their credit cards maxed out and no room left for living above their means. At that point, one of three things will happen:
- They’ll wake up, smell the coffee and start making a serious effort to dump debt for good
- They’ll work through the crisis and go back to the status quo of living with debt
- They’ll throw in the towel and file for bankruptcy or let the house go into foreclosure
DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU. Bankruptcy is not the cake-walk it seems to be (I’ve known several people who have filed and believe me, at times we were tempted ourselves to file. Bankruptcy is NOT fun or easy.) – it’s not an easy fix.
Choose to take your debt seriously and treat it like the emergency that it is. Make it a top priority to get out of debt and make a commitment to never go back into debt again.
You Value “Stuff” Above Financial Freedom
Too many people care more about having their stuff than they do about living a life free from the bondage of debt. This is due to what I like to call short-term, small picture thinking. People refuse to think about next year, or next decade, instead focusing on their YOLO desires. Thus, the accumulation of cool things becomes more of a priority than the long-term vision of financial freedom.
Learn to find your worth in things other than “stuff”. Your personal value is not the sum total of your possessions; your worth is independent of what you own (or don’t own, for that matter). More than having stuff, you deserve a life free from monthly payments and free from slavery to credit card companies and banks.
Becoming Debt Free Looks too Difficult
The process of becoming debt free isn’t hard at all – in fact, it’s quite simple. What’s difficult about it is sticking through the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly mundane tasks of getting it done. In this “instant gratification/I want it NOW” world that we’ve all become accustomed to, having a long-term goal seems pointless, and frankly, it looks like too much work.
Doing hard things will get you much further in life than taking the easy road all of the time. There are immense benefits that come with sticking with a goal through to the end. Choose to do hard things and commit to seeing your debt payoff journey through to the finish line. It’s all about mindset, my friends.
Recommended Reading: The Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Get Out of Debt
You Don’t Know Where to Start
I get it. When we began our debt payoff journey three years ago, we had NO idea where to start or what to do. Thankfully, there are hundreds – probably thousands – of personal finance blogs out there to learn from.
Choose to turn off the TV, put down the smartphone and use your free time to educate yourself on how to dump debt and start building wealth. Check out our archives – and start learning where to start and what to do.
You Haven’t Learned Self-Discipline
Self-discipline is fast going by the wayside in today’s self-centered world. We’ve traded in self-discipline for self-gratification. Debt is the perfect example of this. As late as the 1960’s people were forced to save money to pay for a car in cash and to save a substantial down payment for the blessing of home ownership. Today we’ve created a world where it’s infinitely easy to have stuff without working even a day for it.
Shame on us!!
We choose to take advantage of this (and I’m talking to myself here too) because of a simple lack of self-discipline. Some – like us – were never taught anything different but to utilize debt to get stuff. But once you know better, there are no more excuses.
Pull up your big boy/girl pants and learn to discipline yourself. This is a daily, one-step-at-a-time process. Begin with little things such as saying “no” to unhealthy food or exercising when you’d rather watch TV. Then begin to discipline yourself with your spending, create a plan to dump debt, and discipline yourself to stick with that plan no matter what.
You Haven’t Seriously Imagined a Future Without Debt
Many people fail at long-term debt reduction because they don’t have a strong enough “why”. They haven’t seriously imagined what life would be like without debt, and the freedom it would bring them to live a happier life and to make a bigger impact on the world.
It’s time to define your life. What do you love about it? What do you not like about it? Is it okay with you to be in bondage to your job for forever because you’re in bondage to your debts for forever? If so, you may as well stop reading and go watch TV. But if you’re looking for something more out of life other than the continued drudgery of paying your bills and having zero money left over at the end of the month, then start dreaming about a future that you truly want, make a plan to get there, and dump debt for good.
Becoming Debt Free Isn’t a Priority for You
It’s hard to accomplish a goal when that goal isn’t a priority in your life. You won’t run marathons if running and physical fitness are not priorities of yours. You won’t keep a clean house if it’s not important to you. That’s the facts, Jack.
If you’re serious about working to become debt free, you have got to make debt freedom a priority in your life. You’ve got to sit down, think it out and decide how bad you really want it. If, after doing that, you’ve decided that you really do want to become debt free, make a choice to put those debt-freedom steps near the top of your priority list and get to work.
As big of a mountain as your debt may be right now, “one removes a mountain by first carrying away the small stones”. Choose to take a step, every single day, to prioritize your spending and to reduce your debt. When it comes to debt reduction, my friends, every step in the right direction – no matter how small – counts! If you only have a dollar extra to put toward debt, then do that! Those little steps may seem pointless and inconsequential now, but they will eventually build up to a big pile of steps that results in debt freedom success.
You got this!
This is such a good article! I agree that many people view debt as normal, yet they feel the weighty burden of it, too. Changing your larger financial viewpoint and values goes a long way to seeing your spending and debt quite differently. That’s great you’ve made this change!
Thanks, Kalie!!! I appreciate your support. 🙂
Great post Laurie! 90% of tackling a debt problem is mental. It’s about changing bad behaviors, breaking bad habits, being prepared mentally to do these things can be a big hurdle. It was for us for years. The actual budget and money management is 10% of it, most of it is common senses. So if you can get past the mental, emotional piece of it you’re home free!
Agreed, Brian! You guys are a perfect of example of how you can overcome those damaging mindsets and get debt free!
I think one of the biggest problems I see is that people either don’t know where to start or they just delay the hard work because, well, it’s too hard. The bad news for them is debt never goes away. I think people are too afraid to drastically change their lifestyle.
So true, Tonya! Changing your lifestyle is key to getting out of debt. The change can seem scary at first, but we’ve found it SO freeing!
Not knowing where to start was the big one for us. I knew debt, or at least the kind I had, was bad on some vague level, but didn’t really know what my first step ought to be. I’ll always be thankful to Dave Ramsey and his baby step system for getting us started, and finished, too. The debt snowball system may not be optimal, but it sure is effective, and that’s what matters in the end.
“that’s what matters in the end”. So true! The method isn’t important – the reaching of the finish line is.
I definitely think I struggle with the self-discipline and imagining life without debt. I know I’d have much more money to use for other things, but I can’t imagine what that’s like.
I’m learning more every day about how important visualization is. It really does make a difference!
I’ve definitely heard a variation of all the above reasons. Ultimately, I think many people are scared to face the truth. Debt is scary and in most instances, we do it to ourselves. And that can be the hardest truth to face. Some people will do almost anything to never fact that fact, including staying debt for a lifetime. I also think, as you pointed out as well, there is so much confusion around debt and many people honestly do not realize the risk debt carries, especially substantial consumer debt. Merry Christmas, Laurie!
So true, Shannon. We are lulled into thinking that as long as we can make the payments it’s all good. A sad and dangerous lie, that is.
These are all great solutions. Too many, becoming debt free is something they don’t know how to begin. Sometimes you just have to throw yourself out there and try different methods though!
Exactly! Any step toward less debt is a step in the right direction.
I think the self-discipline piece is far and away the most difficult and the most important element. I speak from experience (unfortunately).
I hear you, Amy – I speak from experience too! Let’s make 2016 a stellar year for debt payoff, my friend!
We’re not in debt (other than the mortgage) but I still need to take that more seriously. Now that we have enough for Tim’s $25k oral surgery next year, we can focus on bigger goals for financial freedom. Like higher retirement contributions and paying down the mortgage faster.
SO happy for you guys that you’ve saved enough for Tim’s surgery, Abigail! The mortgage is next- you can do it!
This is all painfully true. To get out of debt, you have to want it! And you have to want it more than anything else in your life. Fortunately, the payoff is soooooooo worth it at the end.
Ain’t it the truth, Holly! Well said. 🙂
Comments are closed.