The decision to eliminate debt was more of a process then magnificent epiphany. I’ve shared our story before: we worked for 7 years to dump more than $100,000. That statement rolls off my tongue effortlessly and with an air of familiarity. I have lived it and shared the details many times. However, the actual journey was peppered with setbacks, insecurity, second guessing, mistakes, and poor decisions. I credit the eventual success to two main actions (besides our faith in God): 1) an unwillingness to give up and 2) an ability to forgive ourselves after stupid steps while learning from those mistakes. It’s fun to focus on the goal, but recently I remembered how our journey was not always a straight shot.
We live in a consumer driven culture. Whether intentional or not, I compared our progress to those around me. A new car, or new house, or even family vacation might foster a small spirit of competition. I wanted those things too. More than once I questioned our decision to pay $2000/month to debt repayment when I could update my wardrobe or make some much wanted improvements to our home. No one likes being left out of the fashion forward circles because you are rocking wedge heals from 5 years ago.
I knew in my head that completing this goal was best for our family’s long term financial prospects. However, in my heart, going without material “niceties” sucks! Ultimately, staying the course was fantastic, but battling your everyday desires to “keep up” takes effort. What can I suggest?
1. Count your blessings. Many of us are so blessed and have more than we’ll ever need ever again. If you focus on what you have vs. what you don’t, you can move closer to contentment that will help sustain you during the journey.
2. Find a support system. Surround yourself with either those who are walking your journey or at least support your decision to dump debt. Avoid temptation by minimizing contact with big spending friends and family (unless of course they pick up the tab).
3. Share your progress. Talking about your goals, wins, stuggles and progress is a way to bring others on board. Sometimes we don’t realize that debt freedom is even possible because the concept it foreign. Spur your friends and family on to debt freedom or a least increased fiscal responsibility. Reviewing your progress also serves as a source of encouragement for you.
4. Renew your motivation. Keep yourself motivation by reading books about debt freedom, joining online communities (like the Debt Free Divas on Facebook) that encourage debt freedom, or attending workshops to learn new tips or techniques. Iron sharpens iron and you want to keep your motivation razor sharp.
5. Enjoy the journey. Dumping debt can be a slow, methodical process. It’s important to find your joy in the midst. I love summer, being outside and outdoor festivals. I play hard without interrupting my financial progress and life doesn’t drag.
The technical steps for eliminating debt are vital. Let’s not disregard the mental toughness needed to complete the journey. How do you avoid the temptation to throw in the towel?