Paying off debt can be an incredible life changer.
No more worry about having enough money at the end of the month.
No more frustrating bills coming in the mail showing how much money you’re spending on interest, and wasting, because you used someone else’s money.
And no more mentally crossing your fingers at the grocery checkout lane when you *hope* the card will go through.
Yes, paying off debt can be a real life changer.
Not like finding a mystical mermaid with underwater caverns filled with coins and jewels kind of life-changing…but close!
While it’s still gonna take some hard work to pay it off but it will be worth it.
Getting out of debt is not just about paying off a few credit cards and calling it a day. It involves changing your financial habits and making smart spending decisions.
I spoke about this topic on my Savings Segment on Fox.
Watch the replay video here:
I’m living proof that paying off your debt is possible, even on one-income.
It just takes a little bit of mental work. And, if we’re being honest, a whole lotta determination.
It’s not gonna be as fun as cashing in your real mermaid’s fortune filled cavern…but it will be just as rewarding.
It’s natural to experience a few hiccups along the way, and I’ve made my fair share on my debt free journey as well.
Because you see, wasting your time trying to find a real mermaid won’t get you out of debt and these common mistakes won’t either!
Here are a few common mistakes people make when they are drowning in debt.
Mistake #1: Not Changing Your Spending Habits
Have you ever noticed that we are creatures of habit?
When it comes to spending money, this is no exception. We tend to eat at the same restaurants and frequent the same stores.
Just like cats will follow their routines to stay comfortable, we do the same thing! If fact, every night around 11:30pm my cats play “tag”… they run around like CRAZY animals, jumping off the couch, the walls, and anyone who is in the way. We call it “tag time” and we laugh when it catches us by surprise… it’s a habit!
Now some habits can be a good thing such as giving yourself an allowance or setting up an automatic saving amount for large purchases. But some of these spending habits can be more than you can handle financially.
If you are unwilling to change your spending habits, you will be in debt for life! It was most likely your bad spending habits that put you in this situation, and you will need to change them so you can stop drowning in debt.
HOW TO FIX IT:
There are a couple ways to switch your bad habit over and turn it into a good one.
First, start a new habit that directly benefits your cash flow (and therefore gives you more money to use towards paying off debt) such as using cash envelopes for your grocery budget, and shopping with a list. I find that if I make it a game and DO NOT allow myself to buy anything that is not written on our list beforehand… then we get out of the store spending much less.
Also, take a look at what you’ve BEEN spending money on… the restaurants, the movies, the washi tape from the dollar bins at Target, and determine if it is a “Need” or a “Want”.
This may sound harsh, but the only things that are “needs” are:
- Electric/Water (utilities)
- Food (groceries for eating at home, not restaurants)
- Basic Clothing (only replacing the necessities such as holey shoes)
- Car Payment & Gas
Everything else you spend money on is a “want”. Netflix, Starbucks and Ice Cream Sandwiches… are all “wants”. Ouch! Hey, facing the truth about your spending and identifying its true category, will force you to correct your spending and pay off debt.
Mistake #2: Not Having Accountability
When it comes to talking about debt, many families struggle because they don’t ask for help.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking with your friends or family, there are some resources out there you can talk to.
You can speak with a nonprofit credit counseling agency to get free help from financial experts. Or call your local church and find out when they are hosting Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class to learn tricks for managing your debt situation.
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And don’t underestimate the power of telling your friends and family.
They may not understand precisely why you are deciding to pay off your debt, but they can be an excellent place for support and encouragement during tough times. When we were paying off debt, our friends helped us stay accountable by not eating out. We had potlucks every weekend and played games with our families together to help us spend less than going out together.
Plus, friends help you feel like your head is above the water while you financially feel like you are still drowning in debt.
HOW TO FIX IT:
One easy area to get an accountability partner to help you with is for your grocery shopping. Because if you can realize that you don’t have the willpower to NOT buy Oreos when you see them on sale, even though you didn’t write them on your list. Because: Oreos. And you NEED them… then I’d suggest you get a shopping accountability partner. Tell your teen child, or a friend, how much you want to spend for the week and then report back to them daily, or weekly with your totals.
My sister and I used to call each other every other day (now we would use texting because it is faster) to report that we had run each morning. I’ve also had Bible reading accountability partners before to hold me accountable for reading and COMPLETING a Bible study. This is no different. You don’t need to tell them the nitty gritty numbers… it’s not necessarily about the numbers. Instead, just allow them to hold you accountable for reaching your goal: spending LESS (so you can use the money to get out of debt).
Mistake 3: Not Making A Budget
One of the first things I ask someone who comes to me and desperately wants to get out of debt is, if they have a working budget.
And usually the answer is a shy…. ummmm, no….
Well you are not alone. Many people who are drowning in debt do not have a budget. However, that is not a good thing.
In order to improve your financial situation, and pay off your debt, you’ve gotta track what you are spending and where your money is going.
Oh, I know, you think it’s too much work or a waste of time.
But when you are paying off debt, you can’t afford not to have one!
HOW TO FIX IT:
To make a budget it’s not really that hard. All you need is a your phone (or computer) a pencil & paper. Start by looking at how much take home pay you receive with each paycheck, then decide how your’e going to divvy out for each bill you pay during the month and how much you can put towards your debt.
Having this spending plan will help you figure out what areas you can cut back or eliminate entirely from your spending so that you can pay off your debt sooner.
At this point you don’t even need to look at how much you owe (that’s for next month when you are ready to figure out a plan to pay it off even sooner!)
Start your budget with these FREE budgeting sheets.
Mistake 4: Not Having An Emergency Fund
Did you know that 50% of Americans do not have enough cash on hand to cover an expense of $500 or more?
I’l be honest, I didn’t have that either when we first started paying off our debt. We were just struggling to make ends meet! And on top of that we were drowning in debt.
If you are paying off your debt, you need to have an emergency fund first. The reason for this is because if an emergency were to happen, you need to have money put away to cover this expense.
HOW TO FIX IT:
Do whatever you can to get $500 in savings as soon as possible! I’ve helped over a thousand people add $500 to their savings account in only one short month! Join my FREE masterclass and start building your savings account here.
The important part about having an emergency fund is that you don’t usually know when an emergency expense will pop up and having $500 – $1,000 set aside will help you to be prepared.
If you don’t have this money put away, you could put yourself into more debt anytime an emergency comes up (and trust me, they WILL come up!).
You can’t predict when your car will break down without notice, or when the washing machine stops working and overspills all over the floor. The truth is, these things never happen when it’s convenient. It’s always at the least opportune time.
When you have a small savings account ready for the emergency, then it rests your mind and helps you make better decisions. I’d venture to say that it even wards off those dire emergencies, like magic.
It’s best to put away about 3-6 months worth of expenses for emergencies, but if you are trying to pay off debt, you should have a minimum of $500 ($1,000 is even better) in an emergency fund so that your efforts are not derailed when a problem arises.
Making some of these mistakes can not only land you in even more debt than when you started, but you could also end up taking longer to pay off your debt.
Spoiler Alert: There are no real mermaids with fortune filled underwater caverns! That only happens in Disney movies!
Unfortunately, it’s gonna take some hard work to pay it off including changing your habits. Use these mistakes as lessons on your debt free journey, and don’t make the same mistakes when paying off your debt. Your financial future depends on it!
Are you ready to attack that debt and start planning your financially free future?
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