If you’ve tried several times to get out of debt and can’t seem to manage it, this is the article you’ve been waiting for. I’m going to tell you why you continually struggle, and I’m also going to provide a simple solution.
On the face of it, getting out of debt seems simple; spend less than you earn and pay back what you owe with the difference.
So why is it that it’s so hard to actually do?
There are a few reasons.
First, trying to get out of debt is intimidating. It’s like having to climb a very tall mountain starting from a very shallow valley.
Most of us stare at that mountain in awe. We think about how much work it’s going to take to get to the top. As a result, we stay anxious and paralyzed. And we stay in the valley.
But how does a mountain climber approach this task?
One step at a time.
They don’t think about the torturous days ahead. They just think about putting one foot in front of the other.
When you’re trying to get out of debt, you might face a mountain of bills, and your debt might be so great that it gives you a nose bleed just thinking about it.
In that situation, I know it’s really tough to think about taking one step at a time but let me tell you a secret.
That is the only way you’re ever going to get out of debt.
In fact, this is exactly what’s behind your struggles. You start off very motivated but little by little, you change your focus to the mountain rather than the step in front of you.
As a result, you give up.
Think about the challenge of losing weight.
Let’s say George wants to lose 20 pounds, and he’s been trying to do it for years.
He’s tried lots of diets – and they all work.
Then, he slips back and ends up heavier than ever.
Let’s take a look a closer look.
Every time George steps on the scale, it reminds him that he is 20 pounds overweight. Let’s say he decides to do something about it.
He joins a gym and starts working out.
He gets serious about eating well.
After a week, he’s shed 2 pounds.
But when he looks at the scale, you know what George sees?
He still sees that he’s 18 pounds overweight.
Those 2 pounds were tough enough to lose. He tells himself that he’ll never lose 18 more. He gives up.
The only way George is really going to lose those 20 pounds is to lose them 1 at a time.
And the only way you’re going to get out of debt is 1 dollar at a time.
What we really need to do is remain focused on taking one step at a time.
How do you do this?
1. Slow down
Get the word “fast” out of your vocabulary. When you want “fast” results you’re setting yourself up for failure. Resolve yourself to the fact that it may take time to get out of debt. Make a commitment to yourself and someone else that you’re going to stick to it.
2. Redefine success
This is also a critical step. If you define success as “having no debt,” you’re actually setting yourself up for failure – just like George did every time he stepped on a scale.
Success has to be available in smaller increments, so let’s break it down.
In order to get out of debt you might need to do any number of things. There are two main areas; stop creating more debt and paying off existing debt.
In order to stop creating more debt, you need to get a tight grip on spending. That may require finding and implementing a budgeting system and having a family discussion about the new focus on spending cuts and getting out of debt.
There may be other steps as well – like renegotiating or consolidating debt. You also might have to go through all your expenses. Rather than cutting, you might need to shop for lower cost replacements. (Life insurance is a great area where a little shopping could save you a nice chunk of change.)
Each of these are steps and offer you “success.”
Get out a piece of paper.
List all the steps.
Break each step down further. What are all the steps you need to take in order to accomplish those steps?
You might have a list of 30 items. That’s great. You now have 30 “success” steps.
Assign each step to a member of the family with a due date.
Once you complete these steps, you’re going to be much closer to getting out of debt.
Keep in mind that some steps, like following your budget, are ongoing. That’s great, because such steps offer you daily success. All you have to do is follow your daily budget today in order to have success.
If you want to get out of debt, you don’t need to buy another book and you don’t have to start living like a monk. All you have to do is break down your goals into bite-size chunks and start taking care of business – one day at a time.
Your thoughts on debt reduction
Have you faced challenges like these? Did you get out of debt? How?