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Do you ever feel like you’re stuck? Like your financial life is going nowhere? Like you will be in debt forever? You work so hard but never seem to move forward? We were there for a long time. It reminds me of a treadmill because you can walk and walk and walk but still end up in the same place. When this happens, we have to make a change!
Have you ever noticed the box on your credit card statements that shows you how long it will take to pay your balance off if you just pay the minimum? For my cards it was somewhere around 20-25 years. No wonder we never felt like we were making progress! Even when I paid extra on the card, we barely touched the total.
When I realized we had been paying on a card for MONTHS without really lowering the balance, it really ticked me off! This realization woke me up and made me realize I needed to do something different. That’s when we really embraced undebt.it and created a plan of attack. And attack it is just what we did. Our approach is so different this time. We are sick and tired of this debt weighing us down! So what can you do when you are feeling stuck and overwhelmed?
1. Make A Plan
Sometimes it’s not as bad as you think. Maybe it is as bad (or worse) than you think, but that’s okay. You have to face it in order to make real, lasting change. Make a list of all of your debts. Include credit cards, student loans, car loans, mortgages, home equity loans, medical bills, payday loans, etc. You need to see ALL of it. Once you know what you are dealing with, you can focus on improving your situation, one step at a time.
Set a short term goal to focus on. It may be overwhelming to worry about when you will pay off everything, so don’t focus on that. Figure out how long it will take to pay off your first debt, and focus on that. Having a goal in mind helps you stay focused when life tries to derail you.
2. Celebrate Small Victories
When you are stuck, you need SOMETHING positive to get you going. The easiest way to do this is to focus on a small win and celebrate it! This can be a real challenge, but you have to start somewhere!'The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.' (Confucius)Click To Tweet
When you have a mountain of debt, you have to start with small stones. What are YOUR small stones? Are there tiny debts you could pay off relatively fast? Are there easy ways you could save money, like canceling subscriptions you don’t use or making coffee at home? The small stones may be different for each of you.
The point is that small lasting changes really DO make a difference. If you start with something small, it will help you build momentum to move on to the more challenging things.
3. Define Your Why
It’s important to define WHY you want to change your financial picture. You really have to dig deep and ask yourself why over and over until you get to the heart of your motivation. Consider this example:
Me: I want to get out of debt.
Also Me: Cool, but why?
Me: Because I’m tired of being stressed about money.
Also Me: Sure, I get that. What else?
Me: I feel broke because all of my money goes to debt payments.
Also Me: Yeah, that sucks, but I think there’s more to it.
Me: I want to be able to enjoy life with my son.
Also Me: Oh, okay, you’re worried about Landon.
Me: Yes, I want Landon to have parents who aren’t stressed all the time.
Also Me: That makes sense. Is that all?
Me: I want him to learn to handle money the RIGHT away and not get into major debt in the first place.
Also Me: So really you want to set a good example for Landon and enjoy life without constant money stress. Sound about right?
Do you see the difference?
WHY: I want to get out of debt.
BETTER WHY: I want to set a good example for my son and enjoy life without constant money stress.
The end result of my questions is a MUCH more meaningful why. Saying “I want to get out of debt” is pretty much like saying “I want to lose weight.” It’s so generic and there’s no real emotion driving it. Putting my son and my stress into my statement really reminds me what I’m working towards.
Isn’t life meant to be lived and enjoyed, not just survived? It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day routine and not really enjoy things. Before you know it, two years have passed and you feel like you just blinked and missed it.
For us, being stressed about money robbed us of our joy. When you’re constantly worried about money and making ends meet, it feels overwhelming. It’s hard to enjoy things when you know you can’t really afford them. On top of stress, jealousy also creeps in. We don’t WANT to be jealous, but it’s hard to keep that feeling at bay when you see others doing things you “can’t.” The worst part is that we did it to ourselves. We COULD take vacations or have a bigger house if we hadn’t dug the hole we are in right now!
Guess what? You’ll feel better fairly quickly!
Facing your crap and creating a plan can take a big portion of your stress away almost immediately. You can stop worrying about how it might be, and deal with reality. Our fear and anxiety is usually way worse than reality. Once you have a plan, you can quit stressing and just follow the plan.
You’d think we would feel deprived sticking to a budget and paying off debt. It’s actually the opposite. We are enjoying life more now! By reducing our stress and creating a repayment plan, we’ve stopped worrying so much about money. We actually make progress each month and it’s made us much happier and more relaxed.
We enjoy things more than we did in the past because that constant worry is not hanging over us. When we buy something or pay for an activity, we know that the money was set aside for it. We know that our bills won’t be short and that we’re not going into further credit card debt to do it. That is a great feeling.
I share all of this to offer you hope and motivation. If you think your debt is overwhelming and you will never be able to tackle it, think again. We are doing it. It took us a long time to get here, but it’s fantastic. It feels really good to be managing our money effectively. We are winning at adulting. We’re learning to live within our means – FINALLY. It’s not always easy but it is better than the stress we had before.
If you feel stuck, try one of these ideas. Start now. You can do this.
Do you have any other suggestions? How have you worked through the feeling of being stuck? Share in the comments!