It might not be easy to get out of debt, but it is absolutely worth it. Start with these debt-elimination tips. The increased flexibility and peace of mind you gain when you’re no longer saddled with debt can transform your life — including your mental health.
By acquiring a few good financial habits, you can not only get yourself out of whatever debt you’re in right now but also live debt free indefinitely.
1. Cultivate patience.
No matter how determined you are, you cannot get out of debt in a few days or weeks. Changing your financial situation will take time, so be patient. Like losing weight or getting in shape, eliminating debt is a process of making good daily choices. Make good choices most days, and good things will follow even if you have a weak moment here or there.
2. Create a budget.
Budgets are not just tools for determining what you can spend; they also give you a clear view of your finances.
Debt often accumulates because people are simply too nervous to take a close look at what their money is doing. They hope that everything is all right, or they imagine that they’re probably spending less than they earn. More or less. Close enough.
That approach is doomed to failure. Being aware of your financial situation means you’re in charge, and that leads to good things.
3. Set clear goals.
What do you want to accomplish with your money? And by when? The more concrete your goals, the more likely you are to accomplish them because you can see the steps you need to take.
4. Use cash.
Credit cards offer ease and convenience — but they distance you from what you’re spending. The visceral experience of handing over four twenty-dollar bills for a dinner out is very different from the feeling of simply swiping a card.
By using cash more often, you’ll be more in touch with how much you’re spending. This debt-elimination tip will encourage you to spend less.
5. Practice saying no.
In order to say yes to one thing, you must say no to something else. If you’ve set your intention to living debt free, that’s a very big and powerful yes. It implies that you will need to say no to something equally big — or, more likely, to a whole lot of smaller things.
You might need to say no to a night out with friends or to a child who really wants to build Hogwarts out of Lego or to your desire for a new leather jacket.
Saying no can be uncomfortable at first, but it gets easier with practice, and it helps to remember it’s in the service of a larger yes.
The bottom line
Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. To get out of debt means that you must do something different than what got you into debt.
By adopting a few new habits, you can change your approach to money so profoundly that you’ll find you’re building more financial security.