Welcome back, and happy Monday! If you haven’t read the intro post and part 1 of this 4-part series, click on the links to get yourself caught up, so you can have a better understanding of the entirety of today’s message.
Today, we’re going to talk about pushing through the rough spots. This is where the rubber meets the road, folks.
We in The Frugal Farmer Family are nearing the end of month 6 of our journey to debt free. And there are some things we’ve learned along the way. There are dangerous traps that most people will encounter at some point if they choose to walk the road to financial independence. What are some of those things?
1. Fear/Discouragement. If you choose to walk the road to debt free, there are days that you’ll be scared. Days that your mind will tell you stories like:
“What the h___ are you doing? You’re really going to live like a hermit and a homeless person for 5 years??? Don’t you know what will happen if you live like this? You’ll be bored! You’ll miss out! Your friends and family will think you’re off your rocker! Are you really going to shortchange yourself (and your children) like this? It’s going to be a horrible journey – you’ll be miserable!”
Let me tell you something, your mind is lying to you – mostly.
– You will miss out on some things – maybe lots of things, but the peace that will come because you know you are reaching your goal of debt freedom will be profound.
– You might be a bit bored at times, or miss doing the things you used to do, (the things that got you into debt) but the peace will almost always trump that “missing out” feeling.
– Some friends/family will think you’re crazy, but only because they’re jealous or scared of being “left behind” with their debt. People who truly love you will support you, no matter how jealous or scared they may be.
Fear and discouragement are normal parts of any long-term goal. Learn how to recognize them and manage them wisely, and you’ll be just fine.
2. Restlessness. This part hit us at the end of month 5. I wrote here about how we became bored with our journey. At some point, you may feel that way too. You’ll be out of the exciting stage, into the throes of boredom. You’ll have your budget down pat, and have your spending under control, but the numbers may not be moving fast enough for you to stay excited.
Danger, Will Robinson!
This is a very, very dangerous crossroads on the road to debt free, because it can lead you to give up. And the really scary part is that the “giving up” part of you might sneak in v e r y s l o w l y.
You might stop spend tracking, being over-confident in your ability to keep things under control, or simply being bored of writing everything down.
Or you might convince yourself that it’s ok to spend “a little bit” more than your budget allows. Yes, it may be ok, occasionally, to stray from your budget, but it’s crucial to make sure that you don’t overspend consistently. If you see this starting to happen, either re-evaluate your budget to see if it needs a little more room in an area, or commit to reigning in your spending.
When restlessness/boredom sets in, use the tips here, such as re-visiting your motivational list of whys, to get yourself pumped up about being debt free again.
3. Self-pity. Here’s another rough spot that you have to be aware of. Do not, under any circumstances, allow yourself to pity the fact that you cannot “pamper yourself” like you used to. All of those pamperings you did in the past didn’t help you, they hurt you. They were short-term “fixes” that caused years of pain and anxiety as you drove yourself into deeper and deeper debt.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that things will make you happy – they won’t. Happiness and contentment come from inside, and they start with a choice to manage your life properly in all areas, including money.
4. Making excuses. You might also find that you’re telling yourself that you have “good” reasons for getting off of or straying from your budget. In other words, you might be tempted to convince yourself that a “want” is a “need”.
Let me be blunt: “Needs” consist of food, water, shelter, clothing and oxygen. Period. And thrift store/garage sale clothing works just fine to fit your “needs”.
You don’t “need” to re-paint the bedroom, or “need” to sign your kid up for soccer. You don’t “need” to buy your kid (or yourself) the latest cell phone or electronic gadget. And you don’t “need” a new dress/suit for that upcoming party or event.
Making excuses for not getting out of debt or for blowing your budget can quickly lead to destruction of your road to debt free. If you really want financial freedom, it’s time to get back to basics and stop fooling yourself.
You really can survive with a cheaper cell phone plan or without restaurant meals for a time. You’ll be okay. I promise.
The most important part of getting through the rough spots on your journey to debt free is to never forget why you chose to start the journey in the first place. Remember all of the good reasons you have to get out of debt. Remind yourself that you really do deserve better, and commit to staying on track, no matter what challenges may come.