The more time I spend in budgeting Facebook groups, the more I realize that we are all in different stages of shedding our debt. Some are just beginning and learning to budget. Some have everything paid off including the house. Having everything paid off is where we all want to be, but do we have the stamina? Do we have the commitment? If getting out of debt was as easy as getting into debt, we all would be debt free by now, right? So why is getting out of debt such a struggle?
Well, we have to discover what it is that put us into debt to begin with. Why are we getting sucked into over-spending? The answer is different for all of us. Some people want to belong to a group, so they buy products that announce to the world they belong to the group that wears certain brands, lives in certain houses, drives certain cars, eats at certain restaurants, goes on certain vacations, etc.. Our desire to be seen by the world in a certain light has driven us deep into debt. Everyone has different reasons for wanting to belong. Some people are insecure and want to identify with a certain group. With some it’s pride. They can’t stand the thought of being seen as not having possessions, or looking successful. Some people just simply have no self-control and end up in debt, and having bought things they really never wanted. There are many reasons. The big question is what is your WHY?
Once we know why we are in debt, we can work on dealing with that “why” and when that critical moment to spend or not to spend comes we will be ready. Overcoming the “why” will help us become successful at overcoming our debt. Our human nature dictates to us that we must appear desirable. This comes from the desire to attract a mate. This desire is very natural. Without this natural instinct we would spend our lives alone. Marketing strategists have figured out how to manipulate our desire through their advisement. That’s why most marketing has to do with sex appeal. It appeals to our desire to be loved. We also have a natural desire to belong to a group, a community. I would say that’s why Facebook is so popular. It gives us opportunities to connect with numerous groups all at the same time. Humans weren’t meant to be alone. We naturally gravitate towards groups of people based on our desires and common interests. So we have corporate marketing telling us that if we own a Coach bag you belong to the group of people who own coach bags. Even though we never actually have a relationship with these people, we still get hooked into this thinking because of our natural desire to fit in. I am just trying to get you thinking about “why” are you over spending? How much does marketing influence your desire to spend?
Marketing is extremely successful. That’s why it’s a billion dollar industry. They have mastered the art of dictating to us what we should want. It’s manipulation. Since their suggestion appeals to our natural desires, we can be defenseless against their tactics until we become aware of the intent behind the message. So what can we do to help us stop spending and start saving? Well one thing we can do is stop watching commercials. I stream TV, so I don’t watch commercials any more. It has really helped keep me on track. I am not being bombarded with the idea that I need something. Honestly I could go for the next ten years without buying some kind of product and be just fine. I don’t let Facebook dictate to me either. I don’t compare my life with others. It’s fine with me how people want to spend their money. I just don’t let it affect the way I spend mine.
Keeping our goals in front of us helps a lot too. When we feel tempted to go into debt for that vacation, we can remind ourselves of the bigger picture. Staying focused on our goals is key to the achievement of them. In the beginning of getting out of debt, we are motivated beyond belief. We are paying off credit cards, car loans, student loans, etc. It’s exhilarating, but when it comes to paying off the house, it takes a bit more patience. This is when we need to stay focused on our goals. Budgeting or financial Facebook groups can really help out here, because there is always someone in the group who has paid off their house or reached the goal we have set. It gives us hope. It also motivates us to keep going.
Ever asked yourself “why” I am I doing this? Why am I sacrificing to live a debt free life?
If getting out of debt were easy everyone would do it. You will hit obstacles, setbacks, and pot holes along the way. I know how frustrating it is to have the cash to finally pay something off, but something else comes along and takes the money right out of your hands. Then you have to start all over. UGH!!! Having a fully funded emergency fund (3-6 months of expenses), will definitely help out in this case. You can take the money from there and pay yourself back monthly until your account is back to where it needs to be. You still would be able to pay off debt. That’s why your emergency fund is so important. It breaks the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck.
It takes patience to get out of debt. Patience doesn’t jive with our microwave society. We want what we want, and we want it now. Unfortunately, this mindset doesn’t ever accomplish anything. I get impatient waiting to have my house paid off, but I know if I keep at it I will achieve it sooner or later. If you find joy in the little things, paying off debt won’t seem so long. Be thankful! You are on the journey and not where you were the day you realized you had to make some changes. Rejoice with others when they reach their goals! Always be moving forward even if it’s a small step at a time. Don’t beat yourself up when you fall off the wagon. Just get up and keep going.
Paying off debt goes against the social norm. While everyone around you is accumulating debt, you are getting rid of debt. While everyone else is buying the latest and greatest products, you are making due with what you have. While everyone else is spending lots of money entertaining themselves, you are watching a DVD at home. This doesn’t help our human desire to fit in. I think that’s why it’s so hard for a lot of people. They have to go against their natural instincts, and that’s never easy. But it can be done. With patience and time it will get easier and easier until one day living without debt is your norm.
Finding an accountability partner is becoming popular in the budgeting world. Even if it’s someone you have met in a budgeting group. I love this idea because it appeals to your nature to belong. You suddenly aren’t digging out of debt by yourself, you have support behind you to help you along the way. I think having an accountability partner is a win for both parties involved. Plus you might think twice before binge shopping or taking out a that loan. Anything that can help us succeed is a good thing.
Reading books that encourage getting out of debt, minimizing your lifestyle, and saving is a great way to stay focused too. (Hint: Libraries have these.) I joined an online budgeting book club that has helped me keep my momentum to live debt free. The book we are reading right now is “The More of Less by: Joshua Becker. He is also in the documentary “Minimalism” on Netflix. It’s a great documentary to check out. Next month’s book is “The Joy of Less” by: Francine Jay. The book deals with decluttering and I’m always looking for ways to do that.
Staying active and involved with living a debt free life helps keep the energy flowing that you need to achieve your goals. Stay connected to a debt free community and you will not only get out of debt, but thrive as well. Keep your family involved in your debt free lifestyle and your family will thrive. A debt free lifestyle can be fun and not only change your life, but every generation coming behind you. Dave Ramsey calls this “changing your family tree”
Left Overs: I wanted to encourage you from a different angle this week. I have been seeing a lot of posts about the need to stay motivated to get out of debt. It’s not easy watching everyone around you buy everything they want and you scrimp and save for the basics to live debt free, but it’s so worth it. The freedom that comes with owing no one anything is priceless and worth every struggle. You will have the freedom to spend your money the way you want, not the way you have to. That in its self is reward enough. So keep going; embrace every moment of the journey and one day you will look back with a thankful heart.
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Happy Full Plate Friday!!!!