Now don’t get me wrong, eliminating debt should always be your #1 financial priority. However, the first step to getting on track is to BREAK THE DEBT CYCLE. Yup that’s it – the secret to getting rid of debt is to stop adding to it! Live within your means. This doesn’t mean you can’t go outside your house until all your debts are paid off. Just like crash diets, paying down all debt and no play won’t work either. Instead, make a plan – for both spending and saving. Make your plan sustainable by including a positive and rewarding goal to give it energy, to keep you focused and moving forward.
When you get a bonus or tax return do you follow the natural tendency to put it all on the line of credit? Which in one way is great – I am all for paying off debt; but you may have not been moving forward as much as you thought. Did you set yourself up for more debt because you hadn’t planned ahead for your property tax bill or hockey fees? If so, the line of credit gets dipped into again – how depressing!
Even if you do decide that it’s time to get out of debt, you may find you can’t afford to pay off your debt as fast as you would like. To reduce your debt, you need to pay it off in a stable, systematic way. Make paying off your debt a goal; and like any goal, it needs a date to happen.
1. SET A DEBT FREE DATE and make it part of your plan – automatically. Use the concept of “paying yourself first” and set up automatic bank transfers to “pay your debt first” every time you get paid. Don’t wait until the end of the month and put whatever’s left down on debt. There might not be much!
Many people have dreams of doing things or going places, once the debt is paid off. Without a plan and a focus these people often find themselves on the “never never” plan; never getting out of debt and never achieving their goals.
2. PICK A POWERFUL PERSONAL GOAL to motivate you while you work on your debt. Open a free high interest savings account and nickname it for your specific goal. Set up an automatic transfer into this account for each payday – even if you start out with $10 per pay for your “Europe” account. Watching it grow is a positive money moment – very motivating and empowering. Focusing on a specific goal gives you a positive reason not to spend your money unconsciously. Unfortunately, if we don’t have anything good to save for, we have no reason not to spend!
3. BALANCE YOUR PLAN – live within your means, pay your debt first, and save a little as your reward. Escape from the “never never” plan and start today!
Christine White is a Money Coach and Educator, helping families focus their finances and put their money where their heart is.