I recall reading an article that said “get rich slowly” at some point in the past and it really hit home. How can we expect to achieve all of our financial dreams overnight? But, since getting rich takes so much time, it is easy to get off course, lose patience and quit doing the things it takes to get rich. Being someone who strives to solve the financial problems for people day in and day out, I realized that the same phrase is really helpful for debt issues. Get out of debt slowly.
Getting out of debt is a slow and painful process for most people. After all, we don’t get into debt overnight, so we can’t expect (short of a major windfall) to get out of debt overnight. Most people start out the process of getting out of debt strong. They write out a list of their debt, come up with a budget and figure out a plan to pay off the debt. It is similar to the resolution most people make at the beginning of the year to lose weight. They have the best intentions. Go to the grocery store and stock up on healthy food, get rid of the junk food, and head off to join the nearest gym. But, by the end of February there they are again; back on the couch eating ice cream.
The same thing is true of debt. After you sit down and formulate a plan, you can lose steam over time. Many things can happen. The car breaks down so you have to use your debt payment money to pay for the repair. Then, your friends really want to do a weekend trip for your birthday. You can’t say no to that, right?
So what is the key to getting out of debt? In my opinion, speed. The faster you can get out of debt the better. The longer you have to stay focused on your goal of getting out of debt the greater the chances that you will fail. Think about it. If someone would pay you $5,000.00 to exercise and eat right every day for a week you could do that. But, if it was a year instead of a week would you give it a shot? Less likely.
To get out of debt as fast as possible get crazy. Get a second job. Get a third job. Get a roommate. Rent out your garage (after you clean out your garage and sell the stuff you don’t need.) Cancel cable, cut back your cell phone plan, shop your insurance to make sure you have the best rate, stop eating out and start a garden for fresh veggies. Stay focused on your goal and do anything you can to help you achieve it. If you are a visual person, make a chart that allows you to cross out each debt as you pay it off. It will help you to see your progress. Keep in mind that the sacrifices you are making now to get out of debt are temporary and you are getting that much closer to your goal. It will be hard and it won’t be fun, but the faster you get out of debt the faster you can begin saving for retirement as well as your other financial goals.