Home » How and Why You Should Get out of Debt: Part 2, Getting Through the Rough Spots

How and Why You Should Get out of Debt: Part 2, Getting Through the Rough Spots

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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.

In the Intro post, we talked about why you should get out of debt, why it’s important.  In part 1, we talked about how to get started on your own journey to debt free.

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.

Is Republic right for me? Smartphone plans starting as low as $5 per month.

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.

Read Part 3 of this series by clicking here. 

29 comments

  1. Great advice, Laurie. Staying motivated is sometimes the hardest part of a debt free journey. It’s important to realize when you’re going through a rough spot and have someone there to keep you going in the right direction. I think having a blog like you do is great for staying accountable. It’s a lot harder to stray when you have your readers to come back to. Just think, you’re already a half of a year done!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Jake. Yeah, the blog has been huge for us, especially in the area of spending, because we know we’re going to have to report in at the end of the month. Accountability in general, I think, is a super important factor here.

  2. Nice follow up to part one! People have to get that mindset of just doing what needs to be done to get where they want to be. Its not going to be easy but it can be done. Excuses are killer and you have to be ready to keep going even when times “seem” harder than they are. I like the needs can be met at thrift and garage sale. Funny how people say they need clothes but some how think they NEED to spend a lot of money on those said clothes.

    • Laurie says:

      SO true, Thomas! We’ve really gotten a dose of reality as we’ve worked towards only spending on needs. Perspective changes hugely when forced to. 🙂

  3. Great post, Laurie! Getting into debt is often fun – you’re buying all the things you want but cannot afford! Getting out – is less fun, but far more rewarding. There will definitely be rough days as you noted, but those will pass too. One of the hardest things I see people struggle with is that idea that they are “missing out”. And while they may not be able to do extravagant things now – I also think it’s a mindset adjustment to find new ways to have fun and experiences that are no cost or very low cost. Fun is a state of mind. Do we have fun on a big fancy vacation? You bet. Do we have as much fun at the beach? You bet we do. I also agree wholeheartedly that you find out who you’re true friends are – those who will support and encourage you and those who ridicule because you forced them to recognize that they too might have a problem and are unwilling to confront it.

    • Laurie says:

      Shannon, it’s so great to hear from your experiences that getting out of debt is the way to go – thanks so much for sharing. Your wisdom is invaluable. 🙂

  4. 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”. Couldn’t agree more! People tend to forget that sometimes!

    • Laurie says:

      Marissa, it’s so easy to forget that in this day and age, isn’t it? We’ve become confused on so many levels about what “basic needs” are. The other thing I’ve found on this journey is that it’s made me extremely grateful to have those basic needs covered. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  5. Matt Becker says:

    I love this post because it’s such a great description of the hard work you have to put into any long-term project. Almost anything we do that matters will take a lot of time and a lot of work, and there will undoubtedly be times when we face doubt, boredom, discouragement, all the things you mention above. These are the times we really have to remember why this was so important to us in the first place and just keep on working at it. No one finds success without a struggle.

    • Laurie says:

      Great points, Matt! I think of all of the Warren Buffetts, Steve Jobs’, Bill Gates’ and so forth. They all struggled, failed, and were discouraged before true success came. It is indeed that way for every success worth achieving. 🙂

  6. Good stuff Laurie! I think one way to make it through the rough spots is to have small celebrations scheduled at certain points along the debt payoff journey. For example, a special night out once the car is paid off. Nothing extravagant that brings more debt obviously. Just a nice, small reward the whole family can look forward to. I think these serve as markers and help spur us on to the next milestones in the process.

  7. A cell phone isn’t a need? In today’s day and age you wouldn’t know that based on the phones attached to every hand and face. I swear, I don’t know what people did before cell phones. They must have had to interact with each other at the bus stop and at dinner, weird! 😉 Good advice as always!

  8. David @ PBC says:

    The post is really inspiring. Many readers will agree that it is best to stay away from self-pity. This prevents you from being successful in your goal. At the same time, it is not practical to make excuses. Be yourself. It can help you get out of debt.

  9. Alexa says:

    I have had all of these symptoms at what time or the other. Embarrassingly, self pity and excuses are what throw me off of budget the most. I feel sorry more myself and then spend money on things I shouldn’t. I think it happens to a lot of people at some point or another though.

    You have done amazing and I think you and your family have the power to overcome all of these obstacles.

    • Laurie says:

      I go through the same things, Alexa. I think it’s just all part of the process. The mental battle, for me at least, is often the most difficult.

  10. Isn’t it like the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other? It’s very hard to keep focused, but I think you’ll be so happy you did. I think it’s normal to want things and to feel you deserve them, but we need to keep our eyes on the prize.

    • Laurie says:

      Yes, Kim, exactly! I know we’ll be happy when it’s done and over with. We just keep reminding ourselves that we deserve to be out of debt and that the state of being financially free is more of a gift than any thing we could buy.

  11. Perhaps it is a little like the famous five stages of grieving, which eventually lead to greater self-awareness apart from the focus (debt, in this case). Good luck, Laurie!

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