You want to be debt free.
You created a budget. You’re trying to be smart with your money. But there’s never enough money to go around and you’re feeling stuck.
Lots of people have been there and lots are still there. I’ve been there.
We’ll go through the four steps my family and I, as well as a lot of other people, used to get out of debt and start living debt free.
Some key things before you get started in your debt free journey
- This will be difficult. Understand and embrace the challenges and discomfort
- New learning may be required. Be ready to expand your thinking
- Changes will need to be made. What got you here won’t get you where you want to go
- Support helps and will make it easier. I’ll talk about where you can find it
Get clear on your desired future
I’m assuming you want to be debt free, set financial goals and be on track to reach them. But I want you to think more deeply about your future. Think about what your ideal life looks like, and what your ideal version of you looks like.
Where do you want to be? Who do you want to be?
- How will you think about and interact with money? Will you have an abundance or scarcity mindset?
- What will you save and invest in? Will you be a real estate investor, a stock market investor, perhaps Bitcoin?
- Will you give to charities or causes? Will you invest for the good of humanity?
- What will your kids think about money? What will you teach them about it?
If you’d like to dig deeper into this, check out our Goals Course. There’s no cost to take it.
Interrogate your current reality
Interrogate is a pretty intense and serious word, and that’s why I chose it. Here’s the definition;
ask questions of (someone, especially a suspect or a prisoner) closely, aggressively, or formally
After reading the definition, I like it even more.
Before I go any further, I want to make sure you have your personal budget set up and you’re following it. If you don’t, please check out this post and come back.
Being in credit card is, in a tiny way, like being a prisoner. We need to interrogate ourselves to get answers about how we got here. How did this happen?
You need to get clear on how you’re using one of your most important resources. How are you spending your money? What are you consuming?
Fixed expenses. Start here because these are often the biggest and they are recurring. A big part of this is examining your motivations behind these choices.
- Why are you living where you’re living?
- Why are you driving the car you drive?
- Why are you eating the way you’re eating?
While those are often the culprits behind a budget that’s not working, examine your motivations for all of your fixed expenses.
Variable expenses. While these may not be recurring, certainly look for consistent patterns of spending.
Just as with your fixed expenses, examine the motivations behind those that consistently appear. Are they aligned with your desired future? Do you truly value them? Are they important?
Getting clear on your personal values is as important as your personal budget. If you’d like to dig deeper, you can access our Values Course at no cost.
Make more money, or live on less
Do you think it’s easier to make more money or live on less?
If there’s not enough money to go around, you need to make a choice. Will you increase profit or reduce overhead. Perhaps a combination of the two?
Increase profit. It’s a fancy way of saying make more money. How could you do this? Could you ask for a raise at work? Could you get a different job that pays more? Is there new learning or a certification which would increase your earning potential? Perhaps a side hustle of some kind? Are any of these realistic for you?
Reduce overhead. It’s a fancy way of saying live on less. How could you do that? Are there opportunities to reduce fixed expenses? Are there opportunities to reduce variable expenses? Are either of those realistic for you?
Doing both. A combination of the two. There’s no rule that says you have to do one or the other. How could you do some of both?
Creating your plan and making it real
What changes are you going to make? Increase profit? Reduce overhead? Both?
What are your top priorities? Debt elimination? Saving and investing?
Whenever I think about doing a lot of things, it can be overwhelming. With that in mind, here is a step by step process for getting started;
- Get $1,000 saved in a bank account separate from your every day checking
- Start contributing to your 401(k) at work or your IRA, even if it’s $50 a month
- Save one month’s worth of your monthly expenses
- Pay off your credit card debt
- Save two months of monthly expenses, then three, then four, then five, then six
For each of these, put a timeline in place.
- How long will it take you to save $1,000?
- Once you’ve done that, how long will it take you to set up the contribution to your 401(k) or IRA?
- Once you’ve done that, how long will it take you to save one month’s worth of expenses?
- Once you’ve done that, how long will it take you to pay off your credit card debt? (You can access our Get Out of Debt course at no-cost).
- Once you’ve done that, get two months’ worth of expenses saved and repeat that process until you get to six months’ worth of expenses
This could take a long time.
And it’s important to appreciate, embrace, and commit to however long it will take you.
Here’s the thing; once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll have financial security. You’ll be on budget and you’ll be moving towards that ideal version of yourself and towards financial prosperity.
That’s worth the effort and you’re worth the effort.
I mentioned at the beginning that support helps and can make this process easier. Talk with someone you trust and who cares about you. Tell them you’re working on making some important changes and you’d appreciate their support.
I’ve mentioned the free courses that are available. There are also a lot of other great courses for you to learn from.
If you’d like to get some extra help, you can talk with one of our coaches who can help you on your journey.
We’ve done a lot of episodes of the LifeBlood podcasts on becoming debt-free
You’re someone who can become debt free, get started!