Is the “D” word stealing all your fun? It doesn’t have to. Learn how to take control of your financial situation without the stress.
The “D” Word
The D word is debt. It’s a scary word because some of us believe getting out of debt is impossible.
Many millennials are burdened with student loan debt, credit card debt, and car loan debt AND unfortunately, becoming a mom doesn’t make all that debt disappear. In fact, if you are a new mom you may have some hefty hospital bills to add to your debt accumulation.
Many millennials have given up on having financial freedom and instead focus on making monthly payments. But what if you didn’t have a car payment? What if you didn’t have credit card bills. What if loan payments were a thing of the past?
How much more money would you have? What would you do with it?
You could save more, invest, plan for future college expenses, or even take a family vacation. Point blank, you could be making big money moves and changing your family tree!
Well, my friend, whatever you imagine doing with your money, know that it is possible! You can have financial freedom!
I’m not a financial advisor, counselor, or guru. Nope, none of that. I’m just a girl who got sick and tired of working hard and paying never ending payments. So, I got serious about paying off debt, And you know what happened, I did it. I started getting payments out of my life one-by-one. AND you can too!
I said, “adiós” to car loan payments. I said, “au revoir” to credit card debt. Now, I’m focused on paying off my student loans.
I share this to let you know you aren’t alone.
In 2017, the average American household debt was $5,700 and the outstanding consumer debt was $3.9 trillion. Families are struggling with debt and stress caused by debt.
Some people believe the answer is more money but Last year, 78% of full-time workers at every income level reported living paycheck to paycheck, even those earning in the top income brackets! While more money may solve some immediate problems, learning how to manage the money you currently earn is worthwhile.
Debt has found its way in most of our lives, but now it’s time to break up with our debt. And never, ever, ever get back together. (Words borrowed from T. Swift)
Learn how to pay off debts and still have fun. Here are the tools and tips I’ve found most helpful on my debt journey.
1. Get Motivated
Do you have a compelling reason why you want to get out of debt? Do you want to be a stay-at-home-mom? Are you interested in starting your own business? Do you want to be a finance role model for your kids? Do you want to retire early?
Think about your “Why?” for wanting to get out of debt. Write it down on paper and hold it in your heart as you begin your debt journey.
Your “Why?” is your motivation, the reason you will work overtime, find a side hustle, or work a part-time job. It’s the emotional pull that will get you from drowning in debt to debt-free.
2. Get Uncomfortable With Debt
OK. I know I said this would be fun but first, it may get uncomfortable. Why? Well, you have to pull your debt out of the shadows. It’s time to take those long forgotten, hard to think about debts and bring them to the front of your brain. Ignoring debt doesn’t make it go away.
If you are reading this and can’t shout out your total debt amount, I’m talking about down to the penny, then you may want to take a moment and calculate ALL your debt. Gasp! Did your heart just start racing? Is it terrifying to think about all the debt you have?
Also, take a moment to check your credit report and review for accuracy. You can get access to your credit report for FREE (no strings attached-totally free) at CreditKarma.com.
Once you have your “D” number, it’s time to reduce the overwhelm.
3. Organize The Debts
Organize your debts by the amount (lowest to highest) or by interest rate (highest to lowest) and decide how you want to begin paying off debt.
There are two popular options for debt elimination.
- Popular option 1= snowball method: You can take your smallest debts and pay them off one by one. You get the immediate reward of seeing debts disappear quickly.
- Popular option 2= avalanche method: You can order your debts by interest rate; pay the debts with the highest interest rates first and those with the lowest interest rates last. This method is recommended to help save you money.
4. Breakdown The Debts
In a previous step, I suggested you add up all your debts, now it’s time to break them all down.
Looking at the large number you calculated in step 1 can be overwhelming. It’s easy to begin thinking “How can I ever pay that much off?” Breaking down large debts into smaller more manageable debts reduces the overwhelm.
What do I mean?
If you have a debt of $1000. Consider breaking down the debt into increments of $100. Meaning you pay 10 payments of $100.
If you have a debt of $9000. Consider breaking down the debt into increments of $500. Meaning you pay 18 payments of $500.
Do not let the total amount discourage you. We all have a mountain to climb and we all have started at the bottom.
5. Challenge Yourself With Deadlines
You want to pay off debt but it is never the right time. Setting self-imposed deadlines help keep you accountable. You are in the driver’s seat, you decide when and how much!
If you know each time you get paid, let’s say biweekly, you can pay $100 to a $500 debt each payday, then consider giving yourself a 3-month deadline to pay off the debt.
Write it down. Tell a friend. Commit. Each time you challenge yourself and win, you are winning at paying off debt!
Doesn’t that sound nice? It’s sound so nice, I think you should reward yourself!
6. Reward Yourself
Paying off debt isn’t about punishing yourself. It’s about finding financial freedom.
Each time you achieve a goal or win a challenge, reward yourself.
Ideas to reward yourself:
- Enjoy a budget-friendly meal at a restaurant.
- Take a day trip.
- Enjoy a spa day.
- Cook a special meal for the family.
- Buy all the ingredients for homemade ice cream specialties, the kids will wonder why mommy is so happy. Share the good news.
Don’t go back into debt to reward yourself, but take the time to recognize your accomplishment. You are one step closer to financial freedom.
7. Have Fun
You are motivated, paying off debt, and rewarding yourself. Are you having fun?
If not, now is a great time to start!
- Did you make a payment? Do a happy dance.
- Did you eliminate a bill? Tell a friend.
- Did you negotiate a lower interest rate? Treat yo’self!
- Did you get your partner and kids on-board? Take a moms night out.
Find reasons to celebrate. This debt journey can take time and it doesn’t have to be miserable.
8. Be Grateful
Find the good in it all.
Many of my large debts came from expenses and experiences I was blessed to have. My large medical bills came from giving birth. My student loans gave me the opportunity to earn four degrees and qualify for jobs with higher incomes. Some of my blessings have cost me but I wouldn’t change a thing. I bet you feel the same way about some of your debts.
Find the good. Find the lesson. Find the Blessing.
9. Get Started
Debt elimination doesn’t happen until you start. Start today.
As I write this I have eliminated all my credit card debt and car loan debt. I only have student loans remaining! It has been a labor of
love desire to get out of debt and I wish I had started sooner.
It’s your turn and I believe you can do it. Do you believe in you?
10. Don’t Give Up
Giving up will seem like the only answer sometimes, but it’s not!
Life will happen. In fact, I want to let you know that when you are making progress, there will be setbacks.
On my journey, I totaled one of my cars and didn’t have gap insurance. I was left paying for a car I no longer had. I don’t share this to discourage you. I just want you to know that even if you have to readjust, pause, or catch your breath, it is never time to give up. I paid off that car and financed another, the wrong way. Then I paid that car off too!
You will make progress. You will pay off your debt but you can’t give up. Financial freedom takes work and perseverance. You can do this!