Let’s talk about debt. It stinks. No one likes it but just about everyone has it. It makes you like a slave to whoever you owe. Every decision you make ends up being influenced by it. So, if we all hate paying more than necessary for the things we purchase, if we hate being influenced & controlled by it, why do we keep living a lifestyle that leads to more of it?
David & I were in a good amount of debt in comparison to our very low income for the first few years of our marriage. It was very stressful- constantly wondering if we’d have enough to pay our bills. One day we got tired of it, we began to do some research & we began to change our attitudes & actions to help us get out of debt. You see, taking on the mindsets you need to get out of debt is the first step because without them, your follow-through on the actions will be so much harder, if not impossible.
And let me tell you, you may feel like it is impossible, but it really is not. You will absolutely not regret your decision once you are out from under that burden. I can’t tell you it will be easy because it won’t be. You will be tempted to spend money you don’t need to spend, you may even be negatively pressured by your friends or family, but it is worth it.
“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is a slave to the lender.” – Proverbs 22:7
So, here are a few key mindsets you need to own in your heart TODAY to help you get out of debt:
- Generosity: Yes, I know, it sounds counter-intuitive, but yes, you read it correctly. If, when you’re paid each month, you always put a first portion towards tithe or some kinds of charity, it will change how you view & use your finances each month. It will be difficult to do the first time. I remember the first time we did it. We were living off maybe $1000-$1500 per month…maybe…& that first time I wrote our tithe check, I was sitting at our kitchen table, debating in my mind, my hand was shaking & I felt sick to my stomach. But it truly changed how we viewed our finances. Yes, we ended up with less money in our account, but it helped us to train our minds to what was important to spend money on & what was not. Because there was less, our minds became more strict about how we spent it, & we found, that there was ALWAYS enough to pay our obligations. Being generous reminds you to put others first, it reminds you there are others in worse situations than your own. It begins to force you to put your trust in the Lord & His provision for you…& you will never see it fall short. It also teaches you to make do- because there is less, you learn to stretch what you have, & you will find yourself living more frugally.
- Strong Work Ethic: In order to get out of debt you are going to have to do whatever it takes (within legal & moral guidelines, of course) to save &/or bring in extra income. If this means cooking & meal-prepping so you can have all your meals cooked at home instead of purchased ready-made, so be it. If this means taking on an extra job, or doing something that produces extra income (ex: mowing lawns, babysitting, selling crafts/home goods), so be it. You can take that extra income or the money you saved by meal-prepping & apply it as extra payments towards your debt to help you snowball it & get rid of it faster. You will be tired but it will be worth it.
- Self-Control/Self-Responsibility: If getting out of debt is really what you want to do, you will need to set that goal as the most important & above all other goals on your list. This also ties into having a strong work ethic, but you will have to set your emotions aside. If you don’t feel like working an extra job, you need to decide what’s more important- this fleeting feeling or your debt-free goal? If you decide it’s the debt-free goal, then take a moment, breathe, & get over your emotions. This also applies to shopping. If you’re like me & love food like me, you’ll REALLY need to practice these attitudes while grocery shopping. Go in prepared. Eat before you go shopping so you don’t buy everything you see on a hungry stomach. Prepare a shopping list before you go so you go in, get what you need, & get out. And also, keep in mind the true definition of NEED vs. WANT. I hear it all the time & it’s one of my biggest pet peeves…”OMG…I SOOO NNEEEEDDD _____.” Well guess what, no you don’t! Need = you will LITERALLY DIE without it. Will you ACTUALLY keel over dead without that PSL? No? Okay then, save your stinkin’ $4-$5 bucks, go home & make yourself a mostly-free cup of coffee there. Ultimately, though, it’s on you. Control your actions & your money & own it when you fall down on the job. And when you do fall down (because it will happen), pick yourself back up & keep going.
- Patience/Perseverance: You will absolutely need perseverance because this journey to a debt-free life will be long & hard. When you see your friends doing & having the things you want, you will need to refocus on that perseverance to continue striving for your goal. When Pinterest makes you jealous, remind yourself to hold on to patience (& maybe delete your Pinterest app). Remind yourself that you don’t HAVE to have right now what your parents have. You don’t HAVE to have what everyone else has. Remind yourself that your life will be SOO much more free once you’re out from under debt. When people act like you’re weird because you’re going down this path, stay determined, persevere, be patient, & stay the course. You will not regret it.
- Contentment: In order to help with all of these other mindsets, you will also need to teach your heart to be content & thankful for everything you already have. Being content will help satiate any jealousy, desire, or impatience you feel. It will help you to stop comparing yourself with those around you or the things you see on social media. It will help you be a better steward of what you already have. When you are content with what you already have, you will be a lot less likely to spend extra money on the things you do not actually need.
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?'” – Hebrews 13: 5-6
This journey may sound long & difficult, but seriously, it is so worth it. Set that goal, make a plan, & get going. You will begin to feel so excited when that debt starts to disappear. And think of the freedom you will have when you no longer have to make those payments every month. Go ahead, add it up…how much are you currently paying towards debt each month? If you didn’t have to put that toward debt, what could you do with it? How fast could you grow your savings? Or how fast could you save for a new home or nice vacation? What life dreams could you fulfill? Yeah…doesn’t that sound amazing? You still think it’s not worth it?
That’s what I thought.
If you didn’t have to pay debt, what would you do with all that money?
Be blessed, friends!