Category: Debt/Budget

Debt, money, money troubles, finances, financial mistakes, money management, paying off debt, budget, budgeting

Say No to Spending

The urge to shop and spend money can be a powerful siren. Her song isn’t always diminished by your determination to get out of debt or be more financially savvy. Even the most dedicated of savers and budgetees can fall under her spell. Here’s how to tame your inner shopaholic and JUST SAY NO TO SPENDING!

Say No to Spending

Say No to Spending

No Spending Tip #1: Visualize Your Goals

Budgeting and being thrifty is a little like dieting. You know how sometimes taking a look at your skinny jeans is enough to make you put down the doughnut?  You can employ the same tactics to help reach your goal of paying off debt or becoming more frugal. Are you saving up to buy something big without financing? Are you hoping to get completely out of debt and become financially free? Whatever your financial goal, keep tangible reminders around to keep you energized and on target and to help curb those spending urges. Concentrating on something physical that reminds you of why you wanted to save money in the first place will make it harder for you to justify splurging on a new purchase now.

No Spending Tip #2: Know Your Temptations

Do you spend money when you are bored or feel lonely? Is shopping a way for you to socialize and spend time with friends or family? Think about what is happening in your life and what emotions you are having when you get the urge to spend on something unexpected. By knowing your spending triggers, you can more easily avoid those situations that make you weak or set off your inner shopaholic. Learning more about your spending habits and impulses goes a long way to helping you say no to spending money.

No Spending Tip #3: Accumulation Evaluation

A surefire way to curb your desire to bring more into your home is evaluating everything already stuffed inside it. If you’re a true shopaholic then you already have excess “things” that require maintenance, cleaning and/or stowing. Take a good, long and hard look at all of it and inventory how much of your living space you are currently taking up with things you have already purchased. It’s easier to resist temptation to add to the collection when we are confronted with our current excess .

Often we buy new things because we forget about the old things we already have. Pulling our things out of all the nook and crannies can curb your urge to spend by reminding you of things that you previously bought but have not recently used. You might be willing to pass up on buying a little black dress if you know you have three already hanging in your closet.

No Spending Tip #4: Hang Out with Other Non-Spenders

Birds of a feather should flock together, unless it’s a group of shopaholics mixed with one reformed shopaholic.   Make a conscious effort to spend time with like minded frugal friends or even make some new friends with others trying to reform their shopping ways. Don’t start over with a new circle of friends (that’s just crazy). Take into consideration who your “shopaholic partners in crime” might be and suggest activities together where the ability to shop/spend is limited.

No Spending Tip #5: Stay Out of the Stores, etc.

Humans are visual creatures. We like to look at things which often leads to wanting things which in turn leads to buying things. Get the picture? You aren’t likely to run into a bedspread you just “have to have” on a nature trail and I’ve seldom felt a sudden urge to purchase a new shirt while having a movie night with friends. If seeing what you could buy keeps you from staying on track and being frugal, your best option might be to avoid stores, shows, television ads, etc. that give you the “gimmes” and instead concentrate on activities where you won’t be so tempted to spend.

Do you have any great tips on how to make it easier to say no to spending?

 

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The Year We Skipped Christmas and Lived

The year my husband and I got serious about getting rid of all of our debt…we got REALLY serious. How serious? Serious enough to skip Christmas…almost! This is the story of how a perfectly normal family made the decision to continue SAVING MONEY over the holiday season and lived to tell the tale.

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Saving Money During the Holidays

Things were moving right along in our family plan to stop spending, save money, and get out of debt once and for all. Then, we hit a snag. When I had put my foot down about no extra spending, I hadn’t anticipated that this declaration was going to come to a head around October of that same year. (Evidently, Chickens don’t look very far into the future.)

After much discussion, we decided that our spending freeze WAS going to extend over the holiday season and when we declared our intention to “opt out” of Christmas with our extended family, you would think we had decided we were going to marry the girls off to Russian spies on the Black Market.

It was ugly. At least…at first.

My mother worried that we were short changing the children. Other family members were convinced that we were really destitute and just didn’t want to talk about it. I think one Aunt was worried she would see our faces on milk crates or some such.

None of that happened. In fact, it was pretty awesome.

Saving Money Didn’t Freak Our Family Out

After the initial shock wore off, it was really like any other Christmas holiday. I was so concerned that we were going to feel strange or ostracized when we showed up to the get together with our family size bag of chips and dip and no presents for anyone. We didn’t. While everyone else tore into wrapping and gift bags, we sat around in the circle cheering them on. My kids were excited to see what everyone got and I think for the first time, we focused our attention and seeing our loved ones get excited instead of concentrating on what we were tearing open.

Not only did I not feel like a Christmas leper, I had several family members tell me how they admired our commitment to our goal. I wasn’t called a cheapskate and banished from the family. Some even remarked how they were a little jealous that I seemed so much more relaxed during the holiday season and that they wished they were brave enough to just “take a year off”.

Saving Money Meant Less Shopping & Less Stress

I can’t express to you how much less stress there was while “skipping Christmas”. Although we bought several individual small things for each child and did stockings, I was able to reduce our gift shopping and buying by at least 75%! No running from store to store looking for sales. No wondering if the person was going to like the present that was selected! IT WAS BLISS! I spent the time I saved by not shopping, buying, and wrapping on more important things like cooking and baking with my children and making some new ornaments for the tree.

Saving Money Refocused Our Idea of Christmascindylouwho

We were the typical American family. Over the years, our holiday focus seemed to shift from family and spiritual connections to present and gift acquisitions. We all spent so much time and energy picking out items and then wrapping said items that we had very little time left over to concentrate on why our family chooses to celebrate Christmas at all. During the year that we “skipped Christmas” I would stop and find myself feeling a little like Cindy Lou Who. It was like being a spectator to a sport that I had played my whole life but never really thought about why I was playing.

We didn’t get a lot of gifts the year we “skipped Christmas” but, as a family, we did spend more time focusing on learning about our beliefs and making new traditions then we spent filling up our baskets. That worked out pretty good too.

Saving Money as the World Kept Spinning

All told, the most crazy thing about ducking out of the holidays was the fact that it didn’t really feel all that crazy. I like to buck the system now and then, but even I was worried. What would happen if we didn’t spend a lot of money and have as many gifts as usual? Would the chicks revolt? (Nope) Would our family and friends think we were weird? (No weirder than normal) Would Christmas come and go and feel like just another day on the calendar? (Didn’t happen either) We just simply didn’t have as much stuff to put away after the holidays. I also had help making Christmas breakfast instead of everyone vanishing right after the wrapping was shredded.

I was afraid that we would miss the “feeling” of Christmas…but it turns out we might have rediscovered the “meaning” of Christmas instead.

What’s the craziest thing you ever did to keep saving money? Have you ever thought about “skipping Christmas”?

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You Must Let Go to Get Out of Debt

You know that spending too much of your earnings will keep you in a never ending loop on the Debt Express. You can also get trapped in debt by refusing to let go of things holding you back from financial freedom. Here’s a list of things You Must Let Go to Get Out of Debt:

You Must Let Go To Get Out of Debt

Let Go of Keeping Up with Appearances

If you continue to worry about having the latest and greatest gadgets, cars, and clothing, you are never going to have surplus income to make a dent in the overspending you have already accumulated on your outdated gadgets, cars, and clothing.

You can’t get out of debt while keeping up with the Joneses. Things at the Jones’ house aren’t as great as they seem anyway. They’ve maxed out both their credit cards and their nervous systems. Any friends that judge you for your scuffed Nike’s might be part of the reason you are in your current financial predicament anywho!

If your debt level is severe or you are really committed to paying all of your debt off, you are going to have to go without some luxuries for awhile. Don’t worry. New and shiny things will still be waiting for you on the store shelves when you’re done. You won’t have even a smidgen of guilt when you load up your cart at your local TJ Maxx! Win win. Don’t tell yourself “No”, instead tell yourself “Not right now”.

Let Go of Bad Habits that are Holding You Back to Get Out of Debt

You have to be willing to let go of all of the financial habits that brought you to where you are now. Even little bad habits can add up to big bad problems. That daily cup of coffee at Starbucks might only costs $5 a day, but over the course of a month that’s $150 you could be applying to your Visa bill! Resist the urge to “reward” your fiscal self-control with anything that requires spending. You’ll soon find rewarding yourself for saving $5.75 at the grocery store with a new $10 shirt a good idea.

Some lucky people hate to shop and don’t struggle with the “gimmes”. If you aren’t one of these lucky folks, minimize the amount of time you spend in stores (both on Mainstreet and in cyberspace). Seeing available items will increase the chances that you make a purchase. In fact, get crazy and cancel your cable. This was one of the best things we did while eliminating debt. Advertisers are very good at making us feel like we need things that we really just want. Don’t fall for their traps!

Communicate with your significant other about money issues if you’re in this battle together. Money is one of the major reasons that marriages hit the rocks. While financial freedom gets rid of a lot of stress, the actual reduction phase can be stressful. Work together by keeping communication lines open.

Don’t hide from your issues. Admit your bad habits and begin replacing them with good financial habits. Check you checking balances and accounts for accuracy everyday. Come up with a budgeting system that works for you. Start a side hustle to get rid of the debt even faster. Control your money and stop letting your money (or the lack of it) control you! You can’t get out of debt using the same decision making that got you into debt.

Let Go of Huge Obstacles in Your Path to Freedom to Get Out of Debt

This is a hard thing to let go of. It’s downright scary.

Evaluate what large obstacles are in the way of your success. Think about three to five things in your lifestyle that were they to magically disappear, you would be able to get out of debt faster. Write them down. Rank them in the order of least to greatest cost to you (e.g. 1 being the greatest and 5 being the least costly). Next to this, rank these items again in the order of importance to your lifestyle (e.g 5 being the greatest and 1 being the least). Identify two areas where the level of cost is the greatest but the list of importance is the least. Target these “issues” for removal.

Be bold. Mr. Rooster and I decided to sell our fancy smancy suburban house to be able to get out of debt faster. Our friends and family thought we were crazy but I don’t regret it in the least. In fact, it was one of the best decisions I have made in my adult life! We didn’t even have to live in a cardboard box as my mother suggested. Go figure!

Don’t worry. You can always buy whatever it is back later when you can pay cold hard cash. Afraid you won’t ever find such a great deal as you got on your currently financed boat? Try going to a dealer and offering cash off season!

Let Go of Feeling like You are “Missing Out” to Get Out of Debt

Debt reduction is mind over matter. Plain and simple. It is a lot like starting a new diet. I don’t ever crave a doughnut until I can’t have one. Debt repayment is just like that. People often start debt reduction but can’t seem to let go of feelings that they are missing out on life. This causes them to abandon their plans and fall off the wagon.

Hang on to the wagon! Remember what I said earlier. Don’t tell yourself “No”. Tell yourself “Later when I don’t have to charge it”. There is light at the end of the tunnel and by sacrificing some things now you are opening up a lot more opportunities for yourself financially in the future.

To get through this phase, do exactly what you would do if you were dieting- gather some like minded friends! Go on a “spending diet” together so that at least when you feel like you are “missing out” you’ll have others to remind you that you’ve still got camaraderie to keep you going. It’s always easier to keep fighting the good fight when we have others in our corner fighting alongside us!

Let Go of Bad Financial Advice/Teaching to Get Out of Debt

Parents and family members can pass down little or no financial advice. Worse yet, some pass down awful financial advice. Some people believe that you should always take out as much home loan as the bank offers because real estate investments always go up. Those same people probably lost a lot of their personal wealth during the last recession as housing markets took a beating. No investment is without risks and it is always wise to seek the counsel of someone with knowledge about finances before making a large purchase.

Another common money myth is that debt is necessary. While this might be true on a very limited personal scale or for small/large business owners, your ability to acquire personal wealth will ALWAYS be restricted by accruing debt unless that debt is taken on for the sake of increasing income or generating additional money through investments.

If you have a limited or incorrect knowledge of personal finance, take the initiative to learn everything you can about the subject and become educated. There are plenty of people in this world willing to help you figure out ways to part with your money but not that many willing to help you figure out ways to grow your personal wealth.

Mr. Rooster and I like a lot of what Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman have to say about personal finance. In fact, we used the snowball method to get rid of our debt. We paid off over $50,000 in debt and saved $50,000 in cash assets in the span of 2 years to achieve financial freedom.

Let Go of the Fear of Failure to Get Out of Debt

Fear of the unknown can cause us to shut down. Fear of not reaching our goals can cause us to scrap great ideas all together and never get started on things that can totally change our lives. Look at it this way: What you are currently doing isn’t working. There are scores of people that have gotten out of debt that swear it’s possible and that it is totally worth it! Debt reduction can be a scary change. You just have to be more afraid of continuing on your current path than you are of what happens if you commit to working for a better life.

You can’t get out of debt by worrying more about what “might” happen then what you are currently “letting” happen in your life.

 

Here are 5 Tips on Money Management from someone who’s gone from BIG spender to SUPER saver!
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A few years ago Mr. Rooster and I sat down to a heart to heart during which we came to the realization that although we weren’t broke, we didn’t know squat about money management! In fact, we were “cracked” financially.

What is cracked“cracked”? Picture what would happen if a water balloon were to be thrown at an already seriously cracked window…That was our finances. We were one difficulty (not even disaster) away from being over extended.

If we got a raise- we figured out something to put the money towards.

If we got rid of one expense (daycare)- we sent that money into something else. (Chickens like new flashy SUV’s).

Needless to say…we were worried. In January 2014 we started over. We began to rethink financial management and in two years we payed off over $50,000 in debt and saved close to $50,000. We are now currently working on saving to buy our house without a mortgage.

Mr. Rooster and I are not financial gurus. I am not a money expert. So, take this post for what it is- I’m just a normal mother with 4 kids that found a way to successfully beat debt and make our money work for us instead of against us. Below are 5 tips that I think anyone wanting to tame their financial beast should try to incorporate:

MONEY MANAGEMENT TIP #1: Connect Your Checking Account to Your Savings Account
Most banks offer the ability to carry both a checking and savings account where you can transfer money from one account to another with a smart phone. While you might be nervous to connect you savings to the checking account that your debit card draws on, (who wouldn’t???) you can have restrictions placed onto savings withdrawals that prevents someone from taking your checking AND savings if your card is compromised. This step is crucial for making step number two really work…

MONEY MANAGEMENT TIP #2: Pay Yourself First
I would hear “Pay yourself first” all the time when I was in my 20’s but I really didn’t have any idea what the heck people were really talking about. I do now. At the beginning of the month, I make a “quasi” budget (more on this later) and transfer anything from our paychecks that isn’t dedicated to something in particular straight into our savings account.

I do this for two reasons: 1) You feel totally stoked when you see all that money in that savings account and you want to keep it there as long as you can and 2) if I want to purchase something big that isn’t a scheduled expense I have to think about whether I want to draw it out of savings to get it or wait and get it next month. It’s like paying with cash rather than using your debit card- there’s something that makes spending hurt just a little more when it feels more tangible in some way.

MONEY MANAGEMENT TIP #3: Keep Your Eyes on It
Ok, before you start freaking out and thinking that I’m a scrooge…I don’t obsess over our money but I DO check our account balances often. In fact, I think everyone should get in the habit of looking at their bank balance at least once a day to once every other day. I prefer to check ours every morning first thing. Is this because I am a nervous hen? Probably. But, if I am constantly monitoring it I know when bills have cleared and how much we have to spend from day to day and it keeps me from over drafting our account and helps me to plan for the remainder of the month as things come up. It’s also how I get by with a “quasi” budget.

MONEY MANAGEMENT TIP #4: Pay Bills Twice a Month
I only pay bills twice a month. Mr. Rooster gets paid monthly and I get paid semi-monthly. It took me a little while to get ready (our 1st half of the month bills are much higher than our last half). Now I only set up payments to go out on the 1St and 15th of the month. Anything due the 1st through the 14th is paid on the 1st. Anything due from the 15th to the last day of the month goes out on the 15th.

If we get a bill that we weren’t expecting (medical usually in our case) it gets added to the rotation. No exceptions unless it is a service payment (what the heck do kids cram down a kitchen sink to require a plumber twice in the span of 4 days?!). I do this because I don’t have to worry about what day a bill is due, just whether it gets paid in the first half or the second half so I am never late or accrue late payment fees.

MONEY MANAGEMENT TIP #5: Some People Just Aren’t Made for Budgets
I really tried to follow a budget. I mean… I REALLY TRIED! I tried envelopes, I tried carrying around spreadsheets, I tried bar graphs and pie charts and even apps…it just didn’t work for us. If I had $50 dollars for the month for clothes and didn’t spend it, it was too hard for me to remember that I needed to add it to my clothes budget for the next month. I noticed that some months we would spend almost nothing on entertainment. Then the next month we would spend three months of “budgeted” entertainment money.

I could commit to checking the account every day but not to the percentages or dollar amounts or keeping up with categories. What I use now is what I refer to as a “quasi” budget. It isn’t about putting limits on things as much as it is about forecasting. It’s a way for me to see where we are allocating all of our money on a month to month and 6 month basis. It also helps me to project several months in advance so that I can see what needs to be adjusted before there is trouble. (If you are interested in seeing how I do this, send me an email and I will send you a copy of my spreadsheet that I keep).

and here’s a little bonus just because I like you like that…

MONEY MANAGEMENT BONUS: Separate Checking Accounts
Mr. Rooster and I have separate checking accounts. This seems to be a VERY controversial subject but I can only tell you that after trying EVERYTHING, this was what worked for us. Confession time: In my marriage, one of us is a spender and one isn’t. It was impossible for us to keep up with what what going on money wise because we both use debit cards and don’t use checks.

Needless to say, ALL OF OUR MONEY is deposited into one checking account. This is the account that bills are paid out of, groceries are purchased from, etc. From this account, a semi monthly transfer is set up to go to the other chicken’s checking account. Same amount of money every time. Now, don’t call a marriage counselor just yet. This is working because there is ALWAYS a clear line of communication. Both partners use the “primary” debit card almost as often as each other. It’s just an understanding that the extra account with the designated transfer is for gas, lunches, small errands, etc. and the large account is for everything else. This makes it easy to WATCH WHAT IS HAPPENING since there is really only one account to keep track of regularly.

Regardless of what method you choose or how you manage your finances, I would just encourage YOU to take charge so that your finances aren’t managing YOU. Freedom feels pretty darn great!

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havethetalkWe know…you’re so in love its ridiculous! You can’t imagine your life without him/her. We get it. We get it and you’re kind of making us throw up in our mouths a little every time you mention candles or tulle or 1,000 miniature bubble bottles you need us to put ribbon on, but we love you enough to say nothing. We’re good like that.

But you know what’s not good? Getting into something as serious as a marriage contract (that’s CONTRACT people…like with REAL LEGAL consequences) without sitting down and having a few basic but crucial discussions with your Romeo/Juliet about matters of money. No, I’m not talking about a pre-nup (who has enough money worth protecting anymore)? haha I’m talking about general conversations that need to take place before you say “I do” so you aren’t left wondering why “you did”.

After years of watching premarital and marital couples do everything but take hits out on each other (although we once had someone set a truck on fire…that was exciting) I can confidently tell you that financial problems are one heck of a home wrecker. So, what does a young inspiring bride/groom do if they would like to avoid these pitfalls…get on the same page finance wise. Here is a short list of financial topics that should be discussed by every couple before walking down the aisle (or even choosing colors imho):

1. How are you going to handle bank accounts? Who is going to have one? What account/s are deposits going into and where are withdrawals coming from?

It sounds simple, but it’s not. I have seen knock-down-drag-out fights over bank accounts. It doesn’t matter if you decide to keep separate accounts or joint accounts…it just matters that everyone involved has an understanding of what the other is expecting once your finances are “joined”.

2. Budgets? Are you going to have one?

The sad truth is that most of us leave the nest with no idea of how finances work or how to budget money for short term…much less long term. I have seen very successful couples use budgets and very successful couples who would never consider such a thing. Then why should you discuss them? This becomes as issue if one of you is a type A or “planner” personality. Sometimes couples get into huge arguments, not over whether they are broke, but whether their money is being used to fulfill the right purpose. A budget helps to keep these kind of arguments from happening as all parties get a chance to decide how much should be set aside for each category (debt, car payment, entertainment, etc.) and understand financial expectations month to month.

3. Whose is responsible for the task of paying bills and keeping up with bank records?

This seems like another non-issue that can have you crying on the couch of your old roommate’s apartment faster than saying “I do”. Usually, opposites do indeed attract. Very often one member of a relationship will be naturally better at things like financial planning and budgeting and one won’t. Take the time to have a conversation about who is going to be responsible for paying/keeping up with your home finances.  Again, it doesn’t matter what you decide together as long as you DECIDE TOGETHER.

4. Speaking of differences, what are you financial personalities?

I hear you saying “But Brainy…I KNOW my betrothed!” Maybe you do, but maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re getting married right out of college and think that because your soon to be husband/wife didn’t spend money that they are frugal. Think again. The absence of spendable money does not a tightwad make. After you are married and start to increase your income (Lord willing) this area may become a big issue so it’s best to lay it on the table and let the other person know whether you have self control, are a raging shopaholic, or like buying quality over quantity. Just be honest with each other and discuss what pitfalls you need to avoid to stay financially in sync.

5. While we are on the subject of honesty…How much current debt DO you have?

I am absolutely dumbfounded by how many couples head to the church and tie the knot without knowing what kind of albatross is pulling their spouse down. Remember that part where I talked about this being a LEGAL deal? I know you want them to have and to hold in richer and poorer but so does Visa! Even before your rump hits the limo seat, their debts become your debts. It’s not fair to pull someone into a legally binding arrangement without laying all the cards out on the table. If you are the bride/groom to be with debt and are nervous about having the conversation, sit down and have a plan for repayment before approaching your fiance.

6. When the chicks start arriving, is someone going to stay home with them?

To be quite honest, I am kind of old. Not ‘Tales from the Crypt’ old- but old nonetheless. In all my years, I have seen more couples fight and argue about this subject and it is one that I ALWAYS suggest gets discussed before you get married. If you are close to me, I will tell you to discuss it. If you are an acquaintance of my brother, I will tell you to discuss it. If you’re a random stranger shopping for wedding invitations in the same aisle, I will tell you to discuss it! (Get the point?)

We live in a time where two income families are the norm. If one spouse is expecting to stay home with a child and take time off of work to raise them, that needs to be discussed at length beforehand and some agreements made.  Same goes for the career minded parent. You might assume that you’ll continue working while your new significant other dreams of you homemaking. Again, things can always come up and plans can always change, but its good to start out on the same page on this subject.

7. Where will you be financially in five years?

I think the couple that dreams together, stays together. Take some time to sit down and discuss what you think your financial goals should be in these first crucial years of marriage.  It’s true what they say- In some ways the first few years are the hardest. If you have the same goals and dreams in mind during this phase and know what’s most important to the both of you financially then you’ve got a better shot at being together to see your 20 year plans come to fruition.

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Sometimes the pain of debt repayment fells like it will last forever. Here are 5 Things to Remember When Paying Off Debt!

debtTwo years ago, Mr. Rooster & I decided that we were going to become completely debt free. Completely. No holds barred.

Now, before you get the impression that we were only having to tackle a few thousand or so in student loans and an old cell phone bill of $500, I am going to level with you and shamefully admit it was pushing over $50,000 plus a HEFTY mortgage to boot! Chickens like credit cards. All total- we were about $300,000 in the negative!

Without going into a long drawn out explanation of how we accomplished this (in addition to SIGNIFICANTLY increasing our savings account) I am just going to fess up that we did some small things everyone cutting back tries-  cancelled cable, didn’t eat out, turned up the thermostat. We also did some CrAzY things- sold vehicles, moved our family of five into a two bedroom apartment and sold our house, etc.

Everything was a little touch and go at the coop for those two years. There were days when I wondered why in the world we were even trying to get out of debt. Everyone around us seemed to be perfectly fine and slept perfectly well at night on their financed Serta mattresses while we were renting movies from the library and sleeping three kids (to include two teen girls) to a room. It left me wondering if it was just a crazy whim or if I was really losing it.

I am not a finance guru. In fact, I use online banking because if I didn’t I would forget to pay my electric bill. That being said, I DO have some ADVICE and encouraging words for those of you in the thick of paying off/getting out of debt that I wish someone would have whispered in my ear when I was standing at the kitchen sink trying to figure out if you could reuse a pre-filled Keurig cup.

1.) NOTHING IS FOREVER. Really. Almost nothing is. It might seem like it is never going to end- the stress of pinching pennies and cutting corners and going without a new pair of winter boots- but it won’t. Chant this in your head every time you feel on the brink of losing it. From someone standing on the other end of the tunnel I am telling you first hand- your train will pull out and feel the sun again!

2.) SOMETIMES CRAZY MAKES CENTS. When we finally decided to get serious about becoming debt free we REALLY got serious. While it is easy to make a commitment like going without cable or running your air conditioner lower…its another thing to be willing to make drastic changes that make us question security or will shake up our families in a major way. Letting go of our house and moving into the apartment was perhaps our greatest moment of insanity, but it was also our biggest time of triumph! That one thing allowed us to really get our plan rolling and shortened the length of the whole endeavor. People thought we were crazy. We were. But stepping out and being willing to take the plunge really wasn’t near as traumatic as we thought it would be. Be willing to make BIG changes and try not to overthink the consequences. It will keep you in bondage only that much longer.

3.) THE JONESES AREN’T WORTH IT. Now, do I mean your personal neighbors? Of course not! What kind of chicken do you think I am? I am talking about the general population of uber consumers in our country that seem to buy every house, car and gadget that comes out even if it isn’t financially savvy to do so. Sometimes they are “judgey” and make you feel inferior. Those people are a little toxic in general and should probably be avoided. But sometimes, the Joneses are just regular folks that feel no reason to worry about debt/income ratios or if they do they aren’t talking about it at bridge club. When someone decides to get out of debt, there are always going to be people completely oblivious to what would compel someone to do it. They might try your resolve by tempting you to spend or even disregard your plan as a passing fancy. DON’T LET THIS GET YOU DOWN AND MAKE YOU WEAK. While the grass might look greener on the other side there are probably some pretty anxious emotional feelings behind your decision to reduce/pay off debt. Don’t forget those. They are more important than any snide remark your workout partner from the gym might make.

4.) STUFF/SPENDING IS A DISTRACTION/AMUSEMENT. Yep. Pretty harsh, I know. That doesn’t make it any less true though. Companies have spent bajillions of dollars making us think that we need everything from blankets with arm holes to hats that hold two cokes at once. Sure. There are somethings that we all need. But, until that debt is gone, you have to realize and admit that spending/consuming is merely a way for us to distract ourselves from what is really important or to amuse us when we feel sad or bored. No one really NEEDS 6 pairs of black shoes. I hate to say it- but there it is! To stay in the race you have to start looking at paying off debt as a war between you and the forces that are trying to convince you that you need “stuff” and “things” to be happy. Take the kids to the park instead and avoid the stores at all costs. Marketing agencies get rich for one reason- their ideas work!

5.) BETTER TIMES ARE COMING. Repeat this and let it become a mantra to refocus you on thoughts about what you are going to be able to do once you are burden free. While those years were a roller coaster, I don’t think Mr. Rooster or I have any regrets. Does that mean our lives are perfectly blissful now we’ve become debt free? Hello! Remember I said we had two teenage girls! But- we do go to bed every night not worrying if one of us loses our job because we’ve been able to save some and need significantly less to make it each month. So stick that in your Serta, Mr. Jones!

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