Realize this is a Long Journey
This is a guest post from Steve at Money Infant, a site he created to share his story of debt repayment, lifestyle change and financial freedom. Why not stop by and say hello, he is very friendly and welcoming to new visitors!
If you have gotten yourself into large amounts of debt it can seem like there is no way out. Even after beginning the process of cutting your expenses and trying to increase you income progress is too slow. You are burning to get out of debt, but just can’t seem to make any headway. Does this sound familiar? Have you been in this place or are you there now?
My advice is for you to take a deep breath and have a logical look at your debt accumulation as well as your strategy for paying that debt off as quickly as possible. Notice that I said “quickly as possible”. I understand that we, more than any other generation, are apt to want things immediately. We are used to on demand TV programming, instant responses via chat, IM and SMS, quick service food, car washes and deliveries. Let’s face it, we don’t have the greatest attention span, nor is patience one of our strong suits.
If you stop for a second and look at the origin of you debt you will find that it didn’t happen overnight. Just like gaining weight, it is a slow, inexorable and mostly unnoticed problem. It creeps up on you until you finally say, “Holy crap how did I get $20k in debt/add 20 pounds! Where did that come from”? We unconsciously avoid acceptance of the progress of our debt until it becomes so large that it can no longer be ignored. For some this comes at $10k and for others it might not come until $100k. Some can even rationalize it away for some time as they continue to add more debt.
“Oh, I’ll be getting a big bonus this year and will pay it off then. My stocks are doing so well I’ll soon have plenty of money. I get a huge raise every year and can keep up with the payments to service my debt”.
Does any of that sound familiar to you?
Eventually you come to realize that this isn’t the way to live. Maybe you’ve been shuffling money around, opening additional lines of credit and borrowing to pay the minimum payments on your already huge debt burden. The day comes when you realize you have to do something different and you somehow make yourself spend less and start paying down that mountain of debt. But it is just…so…frustratingly…slow.
You have to realize that paying off your debt is going to be a long journey, just as losing weight is often a long journey. You didn’t amass all that debt in 6 months so why would you expect to pay it off in 6 months? The road into debt is a long and winding one and while the road back out may be more straight and narrow, it is made longer by the interest that keeps piling up and pushing you back 2 steps for every 3 that you take forward. Understand that this is a long journey, but one that is necessary and more importantly one that does have an end. The end might not currently be in sight, but it is there as proven by the many others who were once in your place and have come back from debtville on the long path of repayments.
Rest Stops on the Road Out of Debt
Because this is a long road you have to get yourself into the proper mindset and provide rest stops to regroup. In the beginning it can be helpful to make these more frequent to help you gain stamina. Focus on getting just from point A (your current debt) to point B (the first debt to pay off). Don’t frustrate your efforts and make them seem harder by focusing on Point Z (debt free) just yet. And make point B as close as possible. Start with your lowest balance debt. When you pay it off you will get a boost and a feeling of “Yes, I can do this.” As you move forward each debt will become easier as your cash flow becomes more positive. Each trip from point to point will become faster and you will find that you don’t need the constant positive reinforcement because you’ve come to realize that even though you are on a long road, it is one that has an end.
Debt repayment sucks and it isn’t a fun road to travel. It is a necessary road though if you want to have the peace of mind that comes from being debt free and back in control of your own finances. What might you do if you didn’t have to worry about those debts? You will open a whole world of opportunities when you aren’t stuck in a rut of debt repayments and interest payments. So take a moment to remind yourself that the road doesn’t last forever, there is an end (even if it isn’t currently in sight) and that this is a long journey, but also one that will make you stronger, smarter about your money and in the end give you more freedom to make your own choices.
Let us know what your journey has been like and just how long it’s been. For me personally, I’ve been serious about repayment for 9 months and I’ve had a few setbacks (mostly last summer), but I’m still on track. I promise the February debt update is coming soon!