Sometimes you can ignore it. You can (mostly) pretend it doesn’t exist. You can leave mail unopened and delete voicemails without listening to them.
But there is no way to get rid of that little nagging feeling. And at least once a month, you’ll have to face the facts, and pay the minimums or the interest or both.
When You Are Ready…
No one can force you to deal with your debt. Creditors can try—but even then? Until you are ready, until you decide that it is a priority and you are ready to do what it takes, it isn’t time. But as you start to tire of the guilt, of the backward motion, of the lack of options, you might start to feel like you are ready to start thinking about getting ready. This is a good place to be.
Before you really start to tackle your debt you must question your spending.
We’ve heard it all, and if you are saying, “I already know I don’t spend a lot,” or “ I don’t need a budget because I know there isn’t enough money,” or “I know what I’m spending,”—we’ve heard it all before and we think you’ll be surprised by stepping back and questioning your spending.
It isn’t just watching your money come and go—although that is part of it and important to do if you aren’t already—it’s one step further. Am I spending my money on the things that are really important to me? What is really, most important to me? Do my habits support my long-term goals? What are my long-term goals?
Ok, Question My Spending. But Now What?
As you get crystal clear on what is most important to you and where you want to go and what you want to do, you will start to get more angry about your debt. Like, really angry.
Why? Because your debt is keeping you stuck right where you are. Until you get rid of your debt, you aren’t free to make choices, or take risks, or fund your current priorities or future goals to the best of your ability. Your debt is holding you back.
Expect The Unexpected
You’re a little bit fired up. Now is the time for action. With your new found momentum, and with a laser focus on what is most important to you right now, do not go backward. In order to do that, you have to embrace your true expenses like nobody’s business.
Do we want you to be aggressive about paying down your debt? Yes. But only after you’ve put some money away for Christmas and car repairs and upcoming insurance premiums. If you aren’t accounting for your true expenses, you will make some progress and then a month or two down the road, you will find yourself in a situation where you may have to go back to your credit card. Leave a cushion, prepare and save for all the things you know are coming (or could possibly come).
Do. Not. Go. Backward.
So, in conclusion, address your spending—know exactly how much you are spending on what and when. And think critically about it. Is that what you want to be doing?
Then, embrace your true expenses. Save for the things you know are coming, and the things that you know will come at some point, even if you don’t know exactly when. Put a hard stop on this cycle of going back to that credit card and accruing new debt.
And then, from a place of confidence, tackle your debt. Go after it like you are fighting for your very freedom. (Because you are.)