For most of my adult life, money was a topic I never discussed. When I would go out and socialize with friends, I was the person who would pull out their credit card and cover the bill. When I would travel to a location and see something that caught my eye, I’d whip out that plastic card faster than you could say ‘booyah!’
But as the years mounted and I became wiser, the bills started rolling in. There were even months where I couldn’t pay the minimum on my cards and this, ultimately, crushed my credit score.
Then, one day, I hesitantly sat down with a financial advisor to see the damage I had caused myself after decades of undisciplined spending; I was over $50,000 in debt! To say that I was embarrassed by my behavior would be an understatement. Although this may sound like a recipe for disaster, I can safely say that I am currently debt-free and living life on my terms. If you’re interested in how I did it, you’ll want to keep reading.
Although debt is one of the most black-and-white topics you could ever discuss, paying it off is a game of managing your emotions and internal monologue. Often, when we get our paycheck deposited into our bank account, our initial inclination is to hit the mall, buy some clothes or look at holiday deals for new cars.
The area I struggled with the most when lowering debt was allocating resources to an account that I would use to target my issues. If you want to pay your debt off as I did, start by visiting your bank or credit union’s website and opening a secondary account. It helps if you can find banks with no overdraft fees.
From here, I set up my pay so that a portion of every check I received was placed into that account. Then, I used auto-pay services so that each bill was paid, in full, at the same time each month. When money was out of my sight, and it wasn’t easily accessible, my mind adjusted to living below my means. Over the years, this paid off big time!
The Avalanche Method
For me, the avalanche method was a lifesaver. Without going into the technical details behind the method, financial experts found the most effective means of paying off debt was by targeting areas with the highest interest rates first.
Once you target the high-interest debt, you set up your accounts on the other debt to make the minimum monthly payments. With the remainder, you tackle the area with the highest rate. Although the total debt amount of that area may not be the highest, it saves tons of cash that can be applied to other debt areas.
Humans are creatures of habit and need incentives to keep moving forward through difficult times. Knowing this, I began rewarding myself when I would make a payment on my debt.
I spent my weekends and spare time researching podcasts and videos about families that had finally pulled themselves from debt. In combination with that, I hung up motivational posters and quotes around my home that dealt with wealth creation. And on special occasions, I would treat myself to a cheap reward such as a movie or a discount t-shirt from a store. These purchases were made with cash and never tapped into my financial plans.
Although you and I are different in many ways, we both need to stoke the motivational fires from time to time. Realize that a debt-free life is possible by getting creative with your motivation!
Final Words of Advice
Once you successfully pay off your debt, breathe a sigh of relief and pat yourself on the back. Many people never put in consistent effort to work towards a better life, not only for themselves but for their family and loved ones.
It’s crucial that you remember the behavior that got you into this predicament in the first place. While you may have new lines of credit open up to you, avoiding the vicious cycle of debt is the key to financial success and wealth creation. Do what I did: start small, plan for the future, and maintain consistency. If you use the tools and tactics I implemented to get out of debt in 5 years, you can’t go wrong!