The road to becoming debt free is a long one, but it’s well worth the effort. It took me years to even recognize that there was any kind of problem, and now that I’ve nearly paid off all of my debt, it’s easy to look back and see how it could have (and should have) been much easier than it was. Don’t make my mistakes! Here are six lessons I’ve learned on my journey:
1. Just take the blame, and fix it
The first, hardest, and most important step in starting to pay off your debt is to understand that it’s all your fault, and that’s okay. It happened in the past. Instead of ignoring it or pretending it’s someone else’s fault, accept that you got yourself into this mess and you can get yourself out. The sooner you start realizing this, the faster you’ll be able to make changes.
2. It isn’t as hard as you think
You are an incredibly adaptable being. It might be a bit of a challenge at first, but you’ll adjust pretty quickly and it will soon become second nature. You’d be surprised how big of a difference a few small changes will make. Besides, who is to say you have to make all the changes at once?
3. Be content with what you have
We live in a consumerist society, and the concept of being okay with what you have is difficult for some people to grasp. However, once you get used to the idea of trying to use what you have, you’ll have a much easier time. Remember that impulse buys are different from wants, which are also different from needs.
4. Budgets are freeing, not restricting
Stop looking at your budget as restrictive. Instead of seeing it as representing things you cannot do, look at it as a tool to decide what you can do. With a budget, you can make sure that you can afford things, and then it will allow you to, eventually, splurge without any guilt.
5. Debt and interest are negotiable
Depending on how much debt you have, you can sometimes get smaller interest rates, or even have your debt reduced simply by talking with your creditors and working out a payment plan. Don’t expect to get something for nothing, but you may be able to get a bit of relief in exchange for the promise of bigger scheduled payments.
6. It doesn’t take as long as you think
Once you set your mind to it, you’ll be surprised how quickly the time goes by, and how quickly you can be debt-free. The hardest thing is getting started, then it’s all downhill from there. You’ll be able to watch your debt shrink little by little, and then maybe even watch your savings grow little by little until you’re home free.