Why is getting out of debt so hard?
It’s really easy to get into debt. Why is it so difficult to get out?
I believe it comes down to these three big obstacles:
- Peer pressure
- Time between paychecks
- Less confetti and balloons
Simply knowing these obstacles exist will help you to pay attention and give you the energy to persevere in killing the monster.
Whether you were an A/V nerd or highly-respected jock on the high school football team, you succumbed to peer pressure. Everyone did. We learned how to behave by watching others. Some lessons taught us what not to do, but if Joe walks away from a wreck with only minor damage then we believe the same will happen for us.
Add to this the human condition: We are social creatures. We like to be with others. We follow the crowd. Have you started watching a TV show after someone said “You haven’t seen fill-in-the-newest-reality-show? Oh man, you’ve gotta watch it”.
Peer pressure pushes us to do things we wouldn’t do if left on our own. It’s the same with our spending habits: If our friends go shopping every Saturday then we find ourselves hanging out in the mall. If our parents vacation in the Hamptons then we will eventually find ourselves there on our own. If Samuel L. Jackson say you need a Capital One credit card then we think “if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me”. Submit to peer pressure and you’ll find yourself accomplishing someone else’s goals.
However, peer pressure can have a positive effect if the activity or behavior is positive. Look at what happened after Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile. Nobody thought it was possible, but after he ran 5,280 feet in [3:59], more than a dozen others began breaking his record.
Surround yourself with positive role models while getting out of debt. Listen to the “Quotes On Fire” podcast while driving to work and keep reading this blog. 😉
Time between paychecks
“Hey, I’m bored. Let’s go to the movies”.
“Oh, look at that new ________. I didn’t know I needed one until I saw it”.
“My paycheck can’t come fast enough”.
Most people get paid every week or every other week. But life happens every day. There are many more opportunities to spend money than there are receiving paychecks. Translation? It’s easy to find ways to spend money and blow our budget simply because there is more time between paychecks.
I am convinced that our spending habits would be drastically different if we were paid every day. Just ask a waiter/waitress about their spending habits. You’ll learn something.
While getting out of debt, spend time with friends who are working on their goals. Or take up gardening or clean out your closets. It will keep you away from the mall and boredom-shopping on eBay.
Another excellent no-cost activity to help pass the time is to read a book from the library. Yes, I said the library. It will keep you from accidentally “one-clicking” yourself back into debt on Amazon.
Of course you could always take on a 2nd or 3rd job. That certainly would help shorten the time between paychecks.
Less confetti and no balloons
I have a 28 year old friend who paid off his house. Yeah, you heard me right. NO debt. He tells the story of the day he and his beautiful wife went to the bank to make the final payment. The teller brought up their account, they payed the bill, and she thanked them.
What? No strobe lights? No confetti? Where was the guy with the flashy suit rushing into the room with a handful of balloons?
Nope, nobody cared – except for them. They went out for ice cream and told their parents.
Paying off debt is not a spectator sport. Our culture will spend hours talking about football, TV shows, and medical issues in a cramped elevator – but they won’t share their personal finances. As soon as someone says “we just paid off our car” people instantly think you won the lottery, joined a cult, or are bragging about how rich you are.
The truth is the way to beat debt is the same way people become successful: They fight the monster every day until they win.
The secret to getting out of debt is…
Track your progress and look back to see how far you have come. Put a little money on the side for emergencies and then focus all of your time, energy, and attention to getting out of debt fast! Storms will come and you will want to quit, but you can’t. It’s too important. You’ve given up too much already. Finish the race. Print this article. Tape it to your bathroom mirror – and your refrigerator – and especially near your car keys. Make this a permanent bookmark on your smartphone. Take a screenshot and save it as your home page. Remind yourself every day that you are going to win – it is inevitable.
Every time you say “No” to an unnecessary purchase you are saying “Yes” to something else. Make that sacrifice stand for something. Put the unspent money towards your goals. If your goal is to get out of debt then go online and make another payment. If your goal is to save for a vacation then put the dough aside in savings. If your goal is to start a small business then let’s get crackin’!
Avoid the lulls between paychecks and share your goals with your friends. If they truly love you they will remind you that “it’s not in the budget”. Yes, that’s a form of peer pressure – but one that is good for you.
The secret to getting out of debt is to never give up. Every time you send a dollar to MasterCard you are shortening the distance to complete freedom. The sooner you get out of debt the sooner you can save more than “just the match” at work. The faster you kill your debt the more secure you will be.
You will find power and confidence when you start to make progress. Imagine what it would be like to have no debt. How would it feel to have money saved to buy your next car? Take a Caribbean cruise? Not have to worry about credit limits and making it until Friday?
Getting into debt is easy. Getting out isn’t. But it will change your life!
Learn about the Absolute Simplest Budget that WORKS (even for irregular incomes)!