When I was struggling with debt, I was constantly asking myself “is there a way out?”. I came to the conclusion that there is no “easy” way out of debt. However, with a little hard work, it is possible to get out of debt and live a debt free life. Just take a deep breath, grab a cup of coffee, and finish reading this article to learn how debt free living is possible.
Is It Possible?
Debt free living is possible, but not easy. It takes hard work and determination. For the longest time it was a goal of mine, and I believe it should be a goal of yours as well. When I sent in that last payment on that last credit card, I slept MUCH better than I had ever slept in my life…and that day will come for you too!
Debt free living consists essentially of two components
1: minimizing expenses
2: maximizing income
This may sound simplistic and obvious, but many people really don’t think “big picture” about these things. It’s just like trying to lose weight, when you’re trying to lose weight you need to exercise more and eat less unhealthy food. When you want to get out of debt, you need to bring in more money and spend less.
There are many underutilized methods of doing both of these things. The first is to start analyzing which of your expenses are really necessities. Are you dropping a bunch of money on things that could be removed from your budget? Many people get stuck on this step because they think in terms of the status quo, but this self-centered mindset does nothing to get you out of debt.
Cable TV is a great example of this. Many people spend upwards of $100 on cable every month, never stopping to think about why. They consider it a necessity, but is it really? How much of the time we spend watching TV is really time well spent? Giving up cable might not be the answer for you, but you really have to consider what is necessary and what isn’t.
A method for maximizing income that many people forget about is selling things. Obviously you aren’t going to get what you paid for most of your possessions, but that doesn’t mean that taking that bite out of your debt isn’t worth it. Many of us look at our mass of debt and wish we could just hit the “reset” button. Selling possessions can be one of the easiest ways to do this. You don’t even have to pay taxes on what you sell if it’s less than what you paid!
Ultimately most of us really have to take a big picture approach to getting out of debt. Wishing it away isn’t going to work. For most of us, continuing along the same path isn’t going to work either. It’s time to make some serious changes.
Living a debt free life is the dream of just about everyone. For those who are now living a life without debts, you are truly blessed. Did you know that in 2005 the average American carried approximately $8,000 in credit card debt? Almost everyone is living from paycheck to paycheck. If they miss one or two paychecks they are most likely headed to bankruptcy.
Living a debt free life is not easy, but it is one that we can all have with some discipline and effort on our part. Here are some quick tips on how to get out from under that mountain of debt in your life and begin to get on the road to a debt free lifestyle.
When you are just beginning to get out of debt remember to take things one-step at a time. It will not happen overnight. You can’t do everything all at once. Pick out one bill each month and pay more on it, or pay it off entirely. By taking this approach you won’t burn yourself out. It may seem at times like you’re not getting anywhere, but you really are. Think of this in the same context as dieting. You can’t lose 25 pounds in a week. It takes time, but if you stick with your diet, you will lose the weight.
Setting goals and making a commitment to stick to them is a big key to living a debt free lifestyle. Take the time to sit down and write out your financial goals. Let’s use grocery shopping as an example. Start by deciding on a weekly grocery budget. You then make your grocery list out for the week, clip coupons and only take enough money to cover what you budgeted. You will be amazed at the results.
People waste so much money on things at the store they never intended to buy to start with. Grocery stores make this so easy to do. Another good point is to eat out less. Cook at home more often and spend time together as a family. Make up a weekly dinner menu and stick to it. Eating at home more and eating out less will help you save more of your money.
Make Small Sacrifices
In order to become debt free you’re going to have to be willing to make some sacrifices. For example, you can simply bring your lunch to work instead of going out to the local burger joint every day. By just doing this you can save a great deal of money each week. This is just one example of many different things you can do to save money every month. Sit down with your spouse and make a list of your own. This can help you become debt free in a much shorter amount of time.
Put Away The Credit Cards
The single biggest key to becoming debt free is to put away all the credit cards. Instead of seeing something you want and putting it on a charge card, save up cash for it. You’ll be surprised at how this will change your priorities. It will eliminate a lot of the impulse buying. You feel like you have earned it by saving the cash and paying for it.
You may never be able to become totally debt free, but by following some of these tips you can take a very large step towards it. Have patience, stick to your plan and before you know it you’ll be in much better financial shape.