When you hear the word “debt", whats the first thought or feeling that comes to you? For most people debt is “bad" or it becomes the “enemy" and is something that should be avoided like the plague.
Having debt does not make you a bad person. The more a situation is judged as being bad, the worse it gets. It's the judgement that you have around debt, that will keep you feeling “stuck". It's the judgement that brings out the anxiety, the fear, the stress, the knot in the stomach.
It's the old success principle: what you focus on expands. So what are you focusing on? Getting out of debt is an inside job first! What that means is taking 100% responsibility for your debts and admitting to yourself that you have an obligation, and knowing and believing that you will fulfill that obligation, by paying your creditors as quickly as possible.
No one wants to be stressed, or worry about living beyond their means. Most people are very uncomfortable talking about the subject of money and debt. And since the subject of money management is NOT normally taught in schools, where do we learn about it?
From our families, friends, co-workers etc, tv shows. These are people who mean well, and it's been my experience that they are usually passing along information that may be outdated, and no longer relevant for the times that we currently live in and may or may not apply to you and your life. It is THEIR opinions and beliefs.
Once again it doesn't make it a “good" or “bad" thing. The answer is to find a solution that “works" for you and your particular situation. Keep in mind, that once you decide to become debt free, it will become crystal clear that not everyone thinks that becoming debt free is a good idea.
Everyone from your local bank to your grocery store, want you to buy on credit. Realize that “credit" is a tool that can serve you, or NOT serve you. Here are some tips for becoming debt free.
1) Admit that you have debt, and are willing to become debt free. This is the most important step and is part of being 100% responsible, and being open to finding a solution. Without knowing where you are now, you are probably not going to be able to plot out a plan or map to where you want to go.
2) Don’t add any more debt. This is all about changing habits, beliefs, and attitudes about buying on credit. Your attitudes about money/credit may have served you up to this point, and the good news is that you can now make new choices that support you. Remember “life" happens and there may be times when you may have to use credit. If this should happen DON'T beat yourself up. Just continue down your path of debt reduction and the ultimate goal of financial freedom.
3) Start to pay off the debt NOW. This seems like an obvious and simple step, and it's simple to do and also simple NOT to do. Afterall we are human beings, and change is not something that we are very comfortable with. Put all your debts on paper, so that you are clear about what you owe. One of the best strategies to debt reduction is the “something-something" principle. Focus on paying (1) creditor off at a time. This will keep your energy concentrated, and your debt reduction efforts will be more effective, than trying to pay off everyone at one time.
4) Take “extra" money and apply it toward your debt. Where can you get the “extra" money? Start to watch where you spend your money. For example: using coupons, or shopping at a warehouse club, can save you thousands of dollars over the course of a year. These savings can be used to pay down your debt quickly and effortlessly.
Keep in mind that your past doesn't equal your future. Look at your current financial situation as a “learning" experience, and an area that you are able to improve on. . . . versus a place that you are judging yourself for a mistake. Many people just like you have been able to eliminate their debt. The good news is. . . . so can you!!!!
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The author, Mario Castagno is the webmaster of
a resource for debt reduction programs.