Getting out of debt is fine for other people, but they don’t face the obstacles you have. If you just can’t get out of debt, learn what you can change to finally succeed and get the life you want most.
What’s on your bucket list? We all have that mental list of things we’d like to do “someday”. Visit Paris. Run a 10k. Meet the New Kids on the Block. Be debt free. See the bottom of the laundry hamper.
It’s a fine list. But how often do we really think about it? If these are life dreams, we need to start taking some action so we can live to see them become solid memories.
While I’d love to formulate a plan to meet Jordan (sigh), this is a frugal living and family blog. So I’m going to focus on the debt free goal. But you’re in luck. Because, honestly? That one is the key to making all of those other dreams happen. Trust me.
The man who never has money enough to pay his debts has too much of something else. ~James Lendall Basford
What excuse is holding you back from getting out of debt? Let’s tackle them one at a time.
7 Reasons You Can’t Get Out of Debt
1. I’m still paying on the last emergency.
Sometimes we find ourselves in debt due to unexpected expenses totally beyond our control. We had a family emergency, the car died, healthcare bills piled up. Before we know it, we’ve solved one problem only to create another.
I’ve been there. When we moved to a new house, it turned out that the water situation wasn’t at all what I had expected. Life with credit cards was our way of handling it. And now we’re (still) paying the price, month after month.
But let’s think of it this way…If you’re paying on the last emergency you had, what will you do if another emergency overlaps those payments? It’s a cycle you could all too easily find yourself in for years to come.
This is why Dave Ramsey advocates building a $1,000 emergency fund before you begin to pay off debt. It’s important to get out of debt, but equally important to learn to handle emergencies and unexpected expenses without relying on debt.
Related: Help! I Can’t Save Money!
You’ll love this fun money saving chart to jump start your emergency fund!
2. It’s too much, I can never pay it off.
Forget gazelle intensity or bald eagle style freedom. Your life mascot is the ostrich. Head in the sand, ignorance is bliss.
Maybe you’re making minimum payments, maybe a little more. Maybe you stopped using the cards, or maybe you use them more than you realize. Who knows?
Dealing with the dirty numbers and knowing exactly how much you owe and to whom you owe it can be scary. It makes sense that you’d want to ignore it. But that won’t make it go away. Instead of preparing for impact, you’re going to be blindsided by the debt train without warning.
I’ll admit, considering the big debts we owed was terrifying when we started our #yearofno. That’s why I refuse to even really ponder on all of them.
That said, I always know the minimum amount I’m required to pay to each creditor. They get their money every month, and they continue to grow rich on my balance. But those guys are nothing more than the most casual of acquaintances.
Related: How to Find Out All My Debts
There’s only one bill that has a special place in my head. You know the saying “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”? It’s basically that. I know all about this special bill. The minimum payment, the exact balance, interest rates, everything. This is my special nemesis. Only this bill gets my full attention and every drop of money I can spare to send its way.
Choose your full attention bill, but remember the minimum numbers on the others.
3. I’ve just accepted it.
Face it. For some of us, debt is a way of life. Sure, you’d like to be out of debt. But that’s not exactly feasible in your situation.
Some of us are dealt a hard hand to deal with in this life. The rest of us will have pockets of time that make it hard to accomplish things.
But more often than not, there are things we can do to power through.
Check out how this family of 5 totally changed their life to get out of debt.
Or this woman who paid off over $50,000 in less than 2 years despite being unemployed for 6 months and a temp for 9 months!
Learn how this family paid off debt even though they didn’t have anything big to sell and were living on a low income.
4. I have kids.
Whoops… this excuse means that you want to teach your kids to live beyond their means. Do you really want them to swim in a mountain of debt when they grow up, too?
Every parent wants to give their children better than what they had. It’s perfectly fine to sacrifice something so you can give your kids horse riding lessons or take them on a dream vacation.
What’s not ok is paying for those things on credit. Or running out of money before payday because you can’t keep up with it all.
Kids are more resilient than we give them credit. In fact, if you package your desire to pay off debt right, you can put them on your team. Tell them why the family is feeling the pinch.
Never burden them with grown up problems. Unless they are mature teenagers, they don’t need to know numbers. (Unless you present it in a positive “goal thermometer” way.) But it’s perfectly fine to remind them that we can’t get fast food today because we have debt.
Small disappointments like that will stick in their minds. And it may be enough to keep them from repeating your mistakes.
5. My spouse isn’t on board.
You and your spouse will have to work together to accomplish your goals.
It’s one thing if your spouse isn’t willing to help you dig out of debt. If they aren’t interested in putting their heart and soul into getting debt free, you may be able to sway them by starting the process yourself. If they see you accomplish big things in a short amount of time, they may be inspired to join the fight.
Sometimes a good money story can be just the thing to change their heart.
But if they are actively working against you, have a heart to heart. Savers and spenders attract, and you can’t expect a spender to change their life on a dime. Maybe you can work out a spending limit and let them draw cash from each paycheck. Be sure they agree that the spending is over when that money is gone.
Dave Ramsey has some good advice for getting your spouse to join the fight.
6. I have no patience. I want it all now.
We all have our moments of weakness. We buy the shoes that cost too much or we get that rich dessert even though we know we shouldn’t. You shouldn’t ride a guilt trip for giving in every once in a while.
But if you live every day like you won the lottery, it’s time for some deep thinking. How long do you think this life can last? Worry is likely part of every day life. You might put off that anxiety by spending more money, and that will work for a little while. But in the long run, the
money credit will run out. And then your anxiety will be multiplied.
The good news is that if you face your debt today, the amount you have to pay back is smaller than you’d be paying tomorrow (after that one last shopping spree).
The only way to have it all is to make a plan and push for it by taking small steps every day. Sure you want those boots. But wouldn’t you love them more if they didn’t come with a side of guilt? Make that your new goal.
7. I don’t even know where to start.
This one’s easy! You can learn how to get out of debt here. Start your own #yearofno… or come up with your own system for getting rid of debt!
Crush the next thought that says you can’t get out of debt.
You can do this! Make 2018 your year to get debt free.
Need more inspiration? Get over 500 Ways to Save Money: Build A Cash Jackpot for the Best Things In Life.
Have you already tackled debt? Are you ready to join the fight?