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Using Hope to Reach Your Financial Goals


There’s been lots of talk in the PF blogging world the last several days on how to pay off your debt.  Anyone looking to get out of debt should seriously study tips such as those shared by Free Money Minute and Luke 1428 this week.  Any road to debt free has to start with education if it is to be successful.  Along with those crucial debt payoff tips though,  if you’re looking to truly have the follow-through to start and to finish your road to debt-free, you need to have one vitally important ingredient: hope.

Why is hope so crucial to paying off debt?  Let’s start by defining the word hope.  Webster’s Dictionary defines hope this way:

Hope: a feeling that what is wanted will happen; to want or to expect. 

If you don’t expect to pay off your debt, you can be quite certain that you’ll fail.  Why?  Because if you don’t expect to succeed at paying off your debt, then you are, by default, expecting to fail.  You have no hope.  And if you have no hope, you have no reason to make the necessary sacrifices and changes needed to rid yourself of the debt that’s hanging over your head.  Does that make sense?  Now that you understand the importance of hope in your debt payoff journey, here’s how to make hope work for you:

1.  Define the reason for your hope.  It’s time to define what you are hoping for and, more importantly, why.  Don’t just tell yourself “I hope to pay off my debt”.  Make a decisive reason for paying off your debt, as in: I want ( i.e. expect) to pay off my debt so that I can create a better future for my family/retire early/become self-employed, etc.  Whatever your reason for having hope that you can and will pay off your debt, write it down and post it somewhere where you can see it clearly on a regular basis.  Know what is the driving force behind your hope, or expectation, of paying off your debt, by using your motivational list to keep you on track.

2.  Tie your hope to specific goals.  Hope without action is pointless.  It’s time now to set those specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, timely goals for your debt payoff plan, using your newfound hope to keep you on track with those goals.  Using a clear budget as your guide, decide how and when you will pay off each of your outstanding debts.  Make a chart if you need to so that you can display your plan clearly in order to keep yourself motivated.

3.  Use your hope.  Hope is especially important when you hit those roadblocks in paying off your debt, whether they be financial roadblocks, physical roadblocks, or emotional roadblocks.  As Luke 1428 mentioned in his post this week on paying off debt, there are LOTS of ups and downs in a debt-free journey, and it’s important to be prepared for them.  This is why it’s so important that your hope and your reasons for your hope be clearly defined.  When the roadblocks come, you need to be able to divert your attention to the driving force behind your hope: your motivational list of whys and your debt payoff chart.  Diverting your attention off of the roadblocks and onto your reasons for your hope will swell up an energy force within you that has the ability to propel you back into forward motion, if you are willing to work at it.

4.  Exercise your hope “muscles”.  Hope, like any form of strength, needs to be exercised.  Every person is different; some are motivated by fear, some by excitement, some by achievement, etc.  Use your imagination to  exercise your hope muscles to keep your motivation for debt freedom strong and solid.  For me, I exercise my “hope” muscles in two ways.  One, by fear.  I use “What if” scenarios like “What if Rick got laid off” or “What if our ability to feed the kids was threatened” or whatever.  Using fear in this form helps me not to be tempted into spending money in ways that go against what we’ve got on our budget.  The other motivation I use is more aspirational.  I dream about being able to take the kids on vacations, or I imagine handing them a check big enough for a down payment on their first house, or I imagine what our mortgage-burning party will be like.  Envisioning reaching our goals of debt free helps me to stay on track with our budget, and it also helps me to be more creative as I look for ways to trim expenses and save money.

The idea of hope sounds a bit cheesy and pollyannish at times, I know, but hope really does have a driving force behind it that is powerful and effective.  Use hope today to help reach your impossible dreams.

How does hope help you achieve your goals?


  1. I think you’re spot on Laurie! I know for me, hope is what kept me going at times when I was paying off my debt. Sometimes it was all that I had and wanted to give up, but I knew I wanted something better and hope pushed me on. We still do that now with other things and I think it’s vital to have in terms of reaching success.

    • Laurie says:

      John, that’s exactly what I’m talking about! Great to hear that hope worked so well for you, and I agree – it’s a vital tool! Thanks for sharing how hope worked for you guys – I appreciate it!

  2. I agree hope is necessary and powerful when you’re on the road to financial freedom. If you are filled with thoughts of failure or doubt, it will make your journey so much harder. Every roadblock will be magnified, tempting you to just give-up. But when you have hope and trust in yourself that will your succeed, then roadblocks are just a fly you need to swat and move forward.

  3. eemusings says:

    I like this a lot! I think faith and positive thinking is a key part of reaching any goal, financial included. It definitely was for me in funding and pulling off this RTW trip.

  4. lyle @ the Joy of Simple says:

    Nice post Laurie 🙂

    I’m glad that you mentioned action along with hope. I’ve seen many people hope for things but not do anything to change their situations.

    Kind of like The Secret. A lot of people began to visualize what they wanted, but not many went that extra step to do anything about it. As a result there were lots of folks disappointed that nothing happened!

    As you state, hope and action go a long way in achieving your dreams. At least I hope that’s what happens 🙂

    Take care and all the best.


    • Laurie says:

      Great points, Lyle, and with your wonderful sense of humor as usual. 🙂 Yes, though, the action part is SO important. Without it you’re kind of left with a huge chance of disappointment. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Lyle and have a great day!

  5. “Hope without action is pointless.” Exactly right Laurie. We can’t sit around hoping (wishing) things will happen. We have to take action steps if we realistically want to reach our goals. Awesome reminder and thanks for the mention!

  6. Matt Becker says:

    I think optimism is such an important skill, mostly because it allows you to take control of your situation. As you say, if you have no hope then there’s no motivation to try to do better. But if you can believe that tomorrow can be better, then you can be excited about taking the steps to make it better. We can only improve our lives if we’re willing to take control, and hope certainly makes that more likely.

    • Laurie says:

      Matt, that’s a great point about optimism being a skill. Some people think “I’m just a pessimist” or “I’m a born optimist” but I would agree with you that both of those attitudes are instead learned behaviors. That’s great hope for the hopeless. 🙂

  7. Mark Ross says:

    A very interesting post Laurie. I think having hope on things you do could help you make better decisions, though having a good plan can really boost your chances of achieving your goals.

  8. Alexa says:

    I think hope is important in all life goals. Like Matt said optimism is needed to help you reach your goals. If you’re hopeless and pesimistic you won’t get your feet off the ground.

    • Laurie says:

      Alexa, you and your goal of working for yourself are living proof of that: you had a dream, and are doing what needs to be done to reach that dream. Way to go!

  9. I really liked the dichotomy you set up: if you are not expecting to succeed, by default you are expecting to fail. I hadn’t thought of it like that. It seems there might be little middle ground to aim for when it comes to setting a specific goal: either you are expecting to make your goal or not, and there ain’t no third option.

    • Laurie says:

      “There ain’t no third option” – LOVE that, DB40, and it’s so true! One of those simple facts of life that people would be better off to accept. Thanks. 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Same here, DC! It’s amazing what those negative feelings can do to your body, and to your mind, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing that valuable advice. 🙂

  10. Hope is incredibly important on a huge journey like getting out of debt. Like you said though, you have to tie it to specific goals. If you don’t have a plan you might as well throw coins in the fountain and hope your wish comes true. I love your reasoning and wisdom on the subject.

  11. Pauline says:

    I think I rather have faith, or motivation for a goal. Hope sounds a bit like you are not taking control and just hoping for the best. However with no hope you can’t get anywhere, if you think it can’t be done you’ll find a way to mess it up.

    • Laurie says:

      To me, hope and faith are closely related. Hope brings about faith, or vice versa, I’m not sure, but they seem to be good friends in accomplishing goals. 🙂

  12. Martin Luther King, Jr said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
    Hope is what makes the future, tomorrow seem like somewhere we ought to reach, we ought to be and that keeps us going.
    Inspirational post Laurie. And from what I’ve read on this blog for sometime, you’d make a very effective motivational speaker 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Wonderful quote, Simon – thanks for sharing! LOL, I’ve done some speaking, but could definitely use more practice in that area. Would love to speak at FINCON one day about how to get out of a whole crapload full of debt. 🙂

  13. “Hope without action is pointless” So true. It’s a very passive state to be in. I think hope comes into play when you’ve done all you can (action) and now you kind of have a little faith that it pays off (hope). But I too am guilty of using more hope and less action sometimes.

    • Laurie says:

      Tonya, that’s a bridge that’s sometimes hard to connect, I think. We sincerely want and hope for changes, but lack the willingness to take the action needed to make those changes happen. It’s a troublesome problem for lots, I think – myself included!

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