Does becoming and staying debt free seem like a dream to you? Like something that you can wish on a star for, but shouldn’t hold your breath on? I mean, I’ve tried just about every tactic you can think of but it seems like nothing ever works out. It just feels like no matter which process I try, they all end up falling by the wayside and all that debt… manages to find its way right back into my mailbox (in the form of bills).
So what do you do? You’re literally drowning in debt, your credit is horrible, you have no savings, and your paychecks are barely covering everything. While you’re grateful you can still afford the things you need in your life, wouldn’t it just be nice to be able to take a deep breath? I know I’d like that… After careful research and consideration, I realized one important fact that most debt free advocates leave out….
To become and stay debt free, you must learn to change your mind, thus changing your lifestyle. As Daily Finance would suggest, you need to change your mindset in order to stay on the path to financial stability. So how do you change your mind?
- Give yourself a reality check
- Educate yourself on Money Management
- Apply, Practice, and Assess
The Reality Check
Yes, there are a lot of reasons why one minute you could be handling everything fine and the next minute you’re strapped for cash. Anything from a loss of income to a marital separation could really cause your finances to spiral out of control. However, in order to change your mind, your first need to take responsibility for what happened. Realizing the part you played in your finances getting out of hand can prevent you from repeating those actions in the future.
Educate Yourself in Money Management
Educating yourself in money management will help you to learn how to make the best of the income you have. I started looking for reputable websites that had important information about money management. I began reading information on budgeting, investing, paying off debt, and whatever else I thought would help me get back on track with my finances. Sites such as Investopedia, Bankrate, and BankingSense.com gave me a better understanding of where I was falling short and how I could get back on track.
Apply, Practice and Assess
Now you’ve got the information you need as it pertains to your financial status. Whether you need to learn the basics of creating a monthly budget, or you needed to learn the best process for paying off credit card debt, the next step is applying it to your life. When applying a new method or concept to your life, it is important to point out that it is not an instant success. Just as learning a bike may have taken you several attempts, so will getting out of debt and staying out.
Take the new process one step at a time (practice makes perfect) and keep at it until it feels right. Let’s say you’re trying to learn to stick to a budget and you overspend your first month… it is important to remember that it will take time. Get back on the horse and try again. Assess what areas you might be falling behind in (for example, maybe you’re spending too much on dining out) and try again. In due time, the new process will become a habit. In fact, Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London conducted a study which concluded that it can take as long as two months for something to become a habit.
So all in all, I would say it took me about a year to really hone in on my finances, get myself out of debt and keep it off. While this may seem like a long ways off, there is light at the end of the tunnel. You may throw fits along the way, and could even fall off course at times, but as long as you continue to train your brain, eventually, you will succeed.