Getting out of debt is hard work. It’s just. Hard.
Because life happens while you try to get out of debt. The world doesn’t stop moving when you decide to get your crap together. Kids still grow. They still need shoes. And food. You still have to fix crap that breaks. Just because you decide to get out of debt doesn’t mean bad things stop happening while you play catch up with money.
In fact, when we were climbing out, we realized we had the *same amount* of stuff to deal with! This time around though, we noticed it because we didn’t have a pretty little card to swipe to give us three wishes every time we found ourselves up the creek. (Actually we didn’t use credit cards except for the wedding dress and the TV I bought for my dad. But we swiped our debit cards constantly, effectively draining our bank account to zero every two weeks.)
It’s hard, too, when friends around us get to seemingly do whatever the heck they want all of the time and seem to have an endless supply of cash to fund their every whim. And when they wondered audibly why we, too, wouldn’t play along… it was a struggle.
What to do, what to do.
But really, the struggle isn’t about our friends. The struggle isn’t about stuff breaking and me realizing I no longer have unlimited swipes with which to fix problems.
The #Struggle is really about me teaching myself how to live differently. Because guess what. When I got out of debt, people around me didn’t. No one else in my life started living differently.
When I got out of debt, the world didn’t pause for me. I had to learn a new way of handling the same old problems. I still wanted a cell phone and I still wanted to go to restaurants and I still wanted new shoes when my heels broke.
The world, much to my chagrin, continued to function exactly the same as it always had.
I was the one who needed to change. When I decided to lose weight and get healthy, commercials about brownies and pizza still came on television. They still sold nachos at football games and Starbucks had the nerve to continue selling Pumpkin Spice Lattes. But I managed to lose 50 lbs because I changed how I responded to a world of choices.
So it goes with debt. I had to teach myself a new way of functioning in a static world.
There’s no reprieve. There’s no let up. There’s no Biggest Loser: Financial Edition where you get to go live in a secluded facility with a fitness coach and a chef, er, an accountant and a … idk what else it would be. Mom. haha.
When you let that passion rise up in you and you make that decision to dive in, and you make that Debt Payoff Thermometer and you cut up those credit cards and you wrap your Debit Card in an inch worth of masking tape so that, if you want to use it, you can but it’s going to take you an hour to peel it free, THAT’S when you have to let the Passion take over. You have to get accountability and you have to make your OWN Biggest Loser Financial Edition. You have to read books by like minded people who are winning with money. You have to tell yourself all day every day that you’re living for something different. You have to have a SO FREAKING WHAT moment. You have to have a WHY THE HECK AM I DOING THIS!? talk with yourself and then you need to post your answer all over your house.
Because living without debt isn’t normal. It is so friggin weird. So you’re not going to find that life lends itself to debt freedom. In fact, life is going to pull you in the opposite direction EVERY WHERE YOU LOOK for a while. So be ready! Just like losing weight, if you find that watching TV makes you want to snack, you’ll have to shut the TV off, and that will be a fine sacrifice that will pay dividends for you! Likewise, if watching TV makes you WANT STUFF, shut if off! It’s a noble sacrifice. If hanging out with “those friends” makes you want to go buy stuff, you need to have a nice long chat with Jesus and let him break those yucky chains of jealousy for you (because that’s what that is, btw.). If being with all the other soccer moms makes you really want a Pumpkin Spice Latte, you might have to start making your own at home or drinking pumpkin tea (gross) or doing whatever it takes — find a way! — to be able to function in the SAME WORLD with a DIFFERENT MODE OF OPERATION.
If your gray hair is coming in, praise Jesus, but you’re committed to not spending $120 at the salon, you’re going to have to find a way to figure it out. You just… have to. (Maybe Clairol can help you or you could let your true beauty shine through and OWN IT, GIRL! In the words of my supermodel friend Nicole, those are wisdom highlights!!)
When you lose weight, you often have to plan ahead what you’re going to eat that day. So too should you make a BUDGET for your money so it’s planned ahead of time and you don’t blow it on stupid stuff.
In order to get your exercise in, you might have to get up first thing to jog (gross. People who jog are amazing, wonderful specimens of what a perfect human is. I am not that. So, kudos to all you runners. One day, I will try again. But right now I’m on money and raising kids who are nice people. One step at a time.). Financially, to avoid overspending, you might have to get your buns to the bank first thing on pay day so you can cash out your budgeted money. (Using CASH in envelopes is how we beat the “oops I spent all the money because I couldn’t stop swiping my debit card” monster.)
And then one day, you wake up, and you’re 50 pounds lighter. Or you wake up and your debt is gone. It just… happens. One day at a time. One step at a time. Just like anything. You just keep your little head down, little nose the grindstone and you just bust that baby out. Git er done and whatnot. Baby Steps! One little choice at a time all day, every day. And eventually, you find yourself at lake Winnepesaki with your goldfish, jumping off the dock without a care in the world — maybe even teaching someone else to dive in. (see what I did there!?) Debt busted, diving into freedom.
You can do it. 🙂