How to Get Rid of Debt; Start Here

By in Debt

a version of this article was published March 1, 2010

“A man in debt is so far a slave.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Debt, simply put, is buying something now, that you don’t have the money for! If a man or a woman is in debt, as Emerson stated, he or she cannot be free! Those of you with lots of debt already know this!

MAIN TOPIC ; Understand How Debt Works

If you buy something you can’t pay for now, you are obligated to pay back the money you borrowed with interest. If you borrow $300.00 to buy a blue ray player, i.e. you pay for it with a credit card and don’t pay the bill in full at the end of the month; you are borrowing the money for that player at 18%, 28% or even more interest. As long as you go without paying for the player in FULL, at 28% interest, you are tacking on $84.00.

OK, you’re probably thinking, “Barb, you’re an idiot! Tell me something I don’t already know. I’ve hit every blog talking about debt reduction, and I have too much debt, there’s too much stuff I want, and it’s just too hard to get rid of it!!”

Debt Reduction Starts with Your Mind!

Begin by answering these brief questions:

1. Do you want some financial and money skills?

2. Do you want to reduce stress make your money life easier?

If you answered yes to those 2 questions, you are in the right place! But here comes the hard part; Be honest with your answer to question 3:

3. WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO GIVE UP?

Debt reduction seems simple. Kind of like dieting, eat less and exercise more. Only in debt reduction the strategy is spend less and put extra money towards interest payments. In theory, it’s easy, in practice, not so much.

My favorite debt blog, The Debt Myth explores just this issue in “Reality versus Good Intentions”.  Debt reduction requires discipline and intention. That’s why I asked those questions at the beginning of this section. If you want to pay off debt and gain financial security, you have to give something up and you have to take a small action.

I did not say: “What do you WANT to give up?” Obviously, most of us want it all and would prefer to get something for nothing. Unfortunately, that’s not how life works.

In order to get something of value, you have to be WILLING to give something up.

Practical Application; Where to Begin?

Here is the secret, if you saw any of my relatives in the store or at a restaurant; you would not have any idea of their financial accomplishments. You wouldn’t look at one of my relatives and say, “Oh, I know she’s loaded.” As a matter of fact, with few exceptions my immediate family and relatives look middle class, yet with few exceptions they are highly educated and upper middle class with a few millionaires thrown in. Their aspirations and mine are, “do not attempt to look rich to impress others.” As Thomas J. Stanley, PhD says in Stop Acting Rich…, And Start Living Like a Real Millionaire, as well as in his other studies of real life millionaires, most wealthy individuals do not fit our outside expectation of how rich people should look. That is because they have saved, invested, and budgeted their money carefully, not spent it on things they could not afford.

In order to have financial control, you have to be willing to give up, “Dressing, living, and shopping to impress others!”

Be your own judge. Don’t let TV, your neighbors, your friends’ influence how you spend. Clearly, you don’t need me to tell you this, but, you are in debt because you are spending more than you are earning!!!

To get out of debt, you need to be WILLING to do something different. Take a moment or two and really think about what you are WILLING to give up.

Action Steps:

Get a notebook and label it: “(your name) Personal Finance” and keep it by the computer. Use it to keep all of your personal finance goals, thoughts, activities, and plans.

Change your mind!! Give up the idea that you need to impress others and overspend to look rich.

1. Make 2 columns on a paper in your personal finance notebook and write down the ADVANTAGES and DISADVANTAGES of overspending.

2. Write down 5 expenses that you can cut out or reduce immediately.

Do these 2 activities right now. It takes only 5 minutes and the results will be priceless. By writing them down, you are committed to improving your spending.

Writing and talking about goals increases the chance that you will accomplish them! What expenses you are WILLING TO GIVE UP?

image credit; ShutterMoth