I am super excited to be part of the Debt Movement with fellow CFP® and financial blogger Jeff Rose. For those of you who may not know Jeff, you must! He is the founder of goodfinancialcents.com and an amazing CFP® focused on helping lots of people with their finances by creating crazy new ideas like his recent Debt Movement. Jeff’s goal is to help people pay off $10 million of debt in 90 days, together. His past movements, the Roth IRA movement and Life insurance movement have been huge successes in helping people get motivated to take action on their financial goals and I am honored to be able to help out in his latest DEBT movement.
If you’re most people, one of your goals this year is probably to pay off your debts once and for all. But before we can get down to the nitty-gritty of debt reduction, we first have to review your money beliefs about your debt and overcome any emotional roadblocks you may have about it. Here are 5 ways to create the mindset you need to pay off your debts once and for all.
1. Acknowledge the debt you have.
A lot of women know they have debt, but they may not be very clear on how much they really have—or what type of debt it is. So, first things first: You have to be willing to look at your debt and get very clear on the types of debt you have- car loan, student loans, credit card debt, etc., the amount you owe on each, and the current interest rates and minimum payment amount on all of them. You cannot afford to not know this information. Again: get clear about the debt you currently have. Take the time to write this all out on a sheet of paper and make sure you know the cold, hard facts about your debt.
2. Then accept the debt you have and forgive yourself.
Once you acknowledge your debts, a lot of emotions can arise–shame, guilt, regret, anger. All of these emotions are normal; however, you do not need to give any unnecessary meaning to the debt you have. It is what it is. You are not a failure, and you are not a bad person because you have debt. It’s easy to be really hard on yourself, but choose to see the debt as a neutral thing and a learning lesson in life. Accept it for what it is, forgive yourself for having it and decide to move forward from here on out.
3. Focus on growing your emergency fund too.
Get in your mind that in order to reduce your debt successfully you must also have an adequate emergency fund. If you allocate all your excess income toward making extra debt payments but have no money in the bank, the next time an emergency comes up, you’ll fall right back toward using your credit card to pay for it. So shift your focus toward growing your emergency funds while you pay down your debts. More on this is part 2 in the Debt-Free Living series.
4. Create a game plan.
Now that you understand that you should focus your thoughts on building your emergency fund and paying off your debts, create a game plan to actually do this. Look at your monthly income and expenses and decide how much money you can realistically save every month while also making additional debt payments. If you find that you are falling short or living paycheck to paycheck, then you’ll need to either cut back on your expenses or make more money. I personally like the idea of the latter. There are lots of ways to increase your income, asking for more at work or finding freelance work to do on the side, so find what works for you and embed that into your game plan. For more information on ways to negotiate a higher salary, check out www.shenegotiates.com.
5. Remember, its temporary.
Remember that nothing is life is permanent. The debt you have is temporary and can be eliminated with the right mindset and game plan. So celebrate the mini milestones. You can celebrate every time you reach a new benchmark–i.e., you’ve saved up another or paid off another $1,000 increment. Find ways to acknowledge your hard work, as it is important to stay motivated along the way. Remember it’s the journey and not the destination that needs to be enjoyable, and celebrating mini milestones is key to your long-term success.