Debt takes away freedom. It has a way of keeping us from becoming our best self. It’s easy to fall under prey to debt, because the promises are so enticing. We are being sold a dream of having everything we’ve ever wanted for the low monthly price of $99.
But this mentality catches up to us.
Pretty soon we find ourselves in mountains of student loan debt, piles of credit card debt, paying for a car we no longer care about, still paying on the vacation we took a year ago, and we become overwhelmed.
So what’s a girl to do?
The answer is simple; the process is difficult. We need to destroy debt. Here are five tips to help you pay off debt as quickly as possible. These are some real tips that I used when I was on my journey to being debt free and paid off $30,000 in 10 months (crazy, I know).
1. Treat debt like it’s an addiction.
I know this sounds drastic, but debt can be an addiction. If you find yourself spiraling out of control, start by acknowledging your purpose. Why do you want to get out of debt? Get specific. If you are overcoming an addiction of any kind you have to say goodbye to bad influences. If every Friday night you grab cocktails and appetizers with your girlfriends, temporarily say goodbye to that routine. Tell your friends you are paying off debt and you can’t afford to buy cocktails; suggest instead teatime at your home or starting a book club. Then, identify danger zones and stay as far away from those as you possibly can.
2. Truly live on a budget.
A budget is the foundation, the blueprint for your financial life. You wouldn’t build a home without a plan, so why would you manage your money without a plan? Create a plan for your money before the month begins by writing down your income and list all of your expenses. And then really follow that plan. Commit fully to your plan. You deserve it. (Don’t forget to put money aside in your budget for emergency funds!)
3. It’s not willpower, it’s programming.
It’s true. Willpower is a temporary emotion. Willpower will get you started, but it will not keep you going. Habits will make you successful. Program your subconscious mind by creating a series of habits. I once read a story of a gal who wanted to run first thing in the morning to lose weight. Every night she went to bed wearing her running clothes. Then in the morning, she had one less barrier preventing her from running. Find ways to do this with your money as well. Pre-set your coffee pot to brew first thing in the morning so you don’t find yourself in line at the coffee shop because you ran late. Take one day a week to pack your lunches so you don’t have to eat out. Leave your debit card at home so you aren’t tempted to spend money during the day.
Find creative ways to program your life so you are succeeding due to habits, instead of waiting for willpower.
4. Get drastic!
The secret to getting out of debt is solely dependent on how drastic you are willing to get. Say goodbye to seeing the inside of restaurants, cut the cable, sell knick knacks around the house, get a second job, and yes maybe even sell the overly financed car. This is a temporary process. Don’t be afraid to get drastic! Trust me, the expensive cars, restaurants, clothes and vacations are not going anywhere. Great things do not come without sacrifice.
5. Commit fully to yourself.
I used to work in public accounting. In the spirit of getting out of debt, I had completely cut out Starbucks. Tax season is craziness, so I had been working 7 days a week for 3 months straight. And I wanted my damn Americano. I walked out the door, jumped in my car, and pulled out my debit card. Because of tip #3, I had taped a mini-copy of my budget to my card. I remember pulling out my card, seeing the budget and thinking to myself, “ah crap. My goal is more important than this $3 coffee,” as I did the walk of shame back to my cubicle.
Yes, this is cheesy. A $3 coffee would not make or break my get out of debt plan, but this was my way of saying to myself- “I’m all in.” I committed fully to my plan and to myself. And at the end of the day, I believe being in debt well into your 30’s and 40’s is even cheesier.
These are my five best tips for paying off debt and seeing big results. I believe in you. You can accomplish amazing things if you commit to yourself fully. Now go out there, destroy your debt, and take back control of your financial life.