How to Get Rid of Debt; Start Here

By in Debt | 15 comments

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:


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


  1. That’s awesome that my blog is your favorite debt blog 🙂

    And, this is so true: Debt Reduction Starts with Your Mind


    October 10, 2011

  2. I’m starting to get my finances on track and just wrote all my expenses down. Now it’s time to see what I can cut out!

    Briana @ 20 and Engaged

    October 10, 2011

  3. Our material possessions sure won’t impress anyone, at least on the surface. My 10-year old truck is looking more modest every passing year. 🙂

    101 Centavos

    October 10, 2011

  4. Great post Barbara. I absolutely agree that you have to be willing to give up something in order to have financial success and get out of debt. Jackie does have a great debt blog too.

    20's Finances

    October 10, 2011

  5. I now have a reason for dressing down! 🙂 I already drive an old car, live in a modest home and dress very modestly. When shopping I am either at Marshalls, Target or Costco. I think I have down! I am very competive, but I compete with myself.


    October 10, 2011

  6. @Jackie, Your theme is beautiful and your advice is clearly written and actionable!! Love it!
    @Briana-Writing them down makes it so much easier to cut!!! Make it a habit and it will get easier and easier.
    @101- I love our old cars and never want to get rid of them (a bit unrealistic) 🙂
    @20’s There’s no free lunch.
    @Krantcents- Competing with oneself is definitely the way to go!!! I think you and I are cut out of the same cloth.


    October 10, 2011

  7. Nice post!I am agree that you have to be willing to give up something in order to have financial success and get out of debt.


    October 10, 2011

  8. Yeah, I was hoping to met Jackie at the fincon11… She a smart cookie!

    I don’t do pencil and paper, but I love spreadsheets for this kind of stuff 🙂

    Money Reasons

    October 11, 2011

  9. I like your question about what are you willing to give up. This is such a hard one for people- I even struggled with it in the past. But good things take sacrifice and hard work and debt also applies to this. Now that I have learned that and paid off my debt I can see this point clearer. I like how we make our own beauty and cleaning products and grow a garden. I feel accomplished.

  10. Debt is one of the things that we really cannot avoid…But getting rid of it might be easier as long as we strive hard and do our best…For most people, this can really help a lot…


    October 11, 2011

  11. @Ashley, It’s a reality that one must always give a little to get something else.
    @money-Don’t get me started on spreadsheets. I love love love them… (Do I sound nuts?)
    @Miss T-I admire you for that!!
    @Solen-Nothing good comes without effort.


    October 11, 2011

  12. The more you are willing to give up, the shorter amount of time it will take for you to get out of debt! Be intense for a period of time and slowly re-introduce those things you gave up. That is, if you still think you need them.

    The $60K Project

    October 12, 2011

  13. @60K-You are the expert in this area 🙂 You did a great job getting rid of your debt!


    October 12, 2011

  14. When we decided we wanted to go debt-free, we cut down our 3 credit cards to 1. Did some baby steps to reduce the electricity and water bills. We also moved to a house with lower rental fee. Fortunately, we found one with huge space for the kids to play around. At the moment, the steps we chose are working and we are on our way to become debt-free.

  15. I found myself in a financial bind because I invested too heavily in the real estate back in the 2000s. Just about everyone who has dabbled into real estate in the early 2000s rave about how much money they have made. Feeling jealous and envious, I attempted to do the same, but to find that it is not as easy as all the TV shows claim to be. In the traditional world, you would want to buy at the lowest and sell at the highest, but no one could have predicted when this ceiling and floor limit will present itself. In any event, I was left with these properties which were not selling, and eventually I had to dump them with a huge loss. I had to endure such a big financial loss that the only thing that I can do is to file for bankruptcy protection if I ever get back on my two feet again. One moment I seem to have everything in this world, many properties, paper asset of over $1M. Then in the blink of an eye, when the real estate market burst, I had nothing. Since the fallout of my financial demiss, I have learned that I cannot look for the shortcut to making easy money. If you want to be financially rewarded, make sure you are aware what you can afford, and stick to a budget that is reasonable. Do not put yourself in a position where you will have so much debt that you will have to file for bankruptcy protection.

    when to file bankruptcy

    November 9, 2011


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