Every two weeks you get paid… and then bills are due and your balance inevitably goes down. You feel like you are on an endless cycle of paying the minimum balance for each debt you owe. You know you want more: that you want to get out of debt, but you don’t know where to start. Sound familiar?
I feel you. I’ve been where you are now. It can honestly feel hopeless, like you are treading water, making no progress, and have no idea how you can live any differently. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
What is your why?
You know you want to make a change. You know you want better things. This is your breakthrough, the first step on your journey to financial freedom.
The first step to take: finding your financial motivation and answering the question of why?
Dig deep. Why do you want to make a change? What is the financial motivation you have to make this change? How do you envision your life without debt? By answering these questions and continuing to ask yourself ‘why’ until you get to the root of why will help you to be successful as you embark on this journey.
If you don’t have a reason behind why you are doing something, then it is much easier to lose momentum and go back to old habits instead of continuing on the path to change.
It’s important you have a reason, such as a financial motivation, behind what you are doing. If you start to become discouraged, then you have something to think back on and keep you on track.
Write it down
When I started my financial freedom journey, I did not necessarily sit down and answer this question. I think that by not writing down my motivation behind getting out of debt that it took longer to focus on accomplishing what I really wanted. Just knowing I wanted to pay off my student loans and be debt-free wasn’t enough.
My motivations (that I should have written down!) were:
- to have extra income to save for the future
- to be able to have money to spend on items we needed or wanted
It took until 2019 (once all student loans were paid off or forgiven) for me to feel comfortable spending a decent amount of money on dressers for our bedroom! For so long we used dressers that had been given to us to save money because it was something that we could wait to purchase.
We finally upgraded our bedroom and now have a fully finished room. Well, except I’m still looking for a makeup vanity, but my husband considers it “complete” without that.
I felt no financial worry that we spent that money; it wouldn’t hurt our savings account or be something we could not pay off immediately.
Unpopular opinion: I always use credit cards for large purchases to get the rewards because I know I can pay the balance off each month. I’ll talk about that more later!
Use your financial motivation to drive forward
On the days where you feel like it is impossible to get from where you are to where you want to be, take a minute to look back at what you wrote at the beginning of your journey.
Remember that it’s okay to be a work in progress and it will take some time to get where you want to be. Don’t fall for the catchy ‘get out of debt fast’ schemes that might pop up along the way.
There were so many times while I was mid paying off my student loans that I felt so defeated, that it felt like a never-ending process. Especially in the months where we just didn’t have that much extra to pay toward the loan because some unexpected expense came up–don’t you just love when your brakes or tires need to be replaced?
Instead of giving up when I felt this way, I would think back to why I was working so hard to pay off my debt. I envisioned how that would feel and what it would be. If I wrote it down, then it would have been easier to envision because I already would have thought it through!
Next comes the important part of starting your journey to financial freedom. How much debt do you actually have? Read this post about using a debt tracker spreadsheet, which also conveniently includes a place to write down your financial motivation.
What is your financial motivation for getting out of debt?