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Getting out of debt can be a scary idea. It’s not always easy, and for some of us, it can feel like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. I’ve stood at the bottom of a sixty-five thousand dollar mountain and felt beyond overwhelmed at the notion of summiting that hill by paying it all off. If you are feeling the struggle to leave the base camp or you are already halfway up the mountain, read on for some tips to pay off debt as fast as you can!
You have to change your thinking. Decide to be debt free, and then align your actions with that goal.
I don’t want you to live in the past, drowning in regret for the choices you have made and the mountain of debt you are facing. But I do want you to get MAD at that mountain because you are better than those debts. You deserve more than the stress of bills and interest and making minimum payments. You don’t have to live like this anymore! So fire yourself up, get pissed off at the money that the banks and government are making off of your debt and get rid of it as fast as you can!
This is also the point when you need to decide that you NEVER want to owe money, ever again. The thought of how many pennies we wasted on interest in the past decade makes my head spin. We will never lose our money like that again.
If you are a Dave Ramsey follower, you have undoubtedly heard him talk about the gazelles on the Serengeti. Those sweet gazelles are NOT the fastest creatures on the planet, but they are HUNTED by the worlds speediest runners – the cheetah. Those sleek cats can run over 100km/hour, and yet somehow, the gazelles often get away. Do you know why? Because they are running for their LIVES. They have the ability, in short bursts, to run 97 km/hr and they can twist and turn so speedily that they can get away from the cheetahs!
When we talk about getting gazelle intense, it just means we want you to run as fast as you can. To twist and turn and get away from the threat of debt! The banks are the cheetahs, and they are hungry. When you get gazelle intense, you are willing to run faster, pay more, sacrifice more things (cable? dinners out? new shoes?) to get away!
According to Equifax, the average, non-mortgage debt load for Canadians is $22,837 per person. Our $65,641 was WELL above average. But it was still perceived as ‘normal’. Most people carry debt in some form, and nearly everyone I talk to about it seems to be okay with it. It is ‘normal’ in our culture to buy things we can’t afford and owe money to other people.
Now that our non-mortgage debt is ZERO? Well, it’s safe to say we are weird. And we are cool with that!
Your friends might not be on the debt-free train.
Your family might question why you’d even BOTHER with these changes.
People around you might think what you are doing is crazy, because they are comfortable with the stress of debt and they don’t mind spending all that extra money on interest.
Don’t let their opinion slow you down.
It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing, or what anyone else thinks about this.
Debt is normal. Interest payments are NORMAL. Using credit cards and getting car loans is NORMAL.
Quit being normal!
Get comfortable with being weird.
A common mistake people make when they are trying to get out of debt is spreading their focus out across the board. So if you have five debts, you pay $20 or $50 extra every month on each one, and you never seem to make any progress.
I did this for years.
If you are serious about getting out of debt, you need to align your focus with your goals. By targeting one goal at a time you are able to make real progress, quickly! And when you get those quick wins, you build up momentum, which is what keeps you moving forward.
Get Intentional with Your Spending
The way to make the biggest impact on your debts is to have as much money as you can find to put on them, above and beyond your minimum payment. This means digging deep into your budget to trim on expenses and get creative in ways to bring in extra money. Here are a few ideas to get you started!
The only way you can make this trek successfully is if you are honest and real with yourself. The first time you look at your debts in a list might be painful. I know for me it was a slap in the face because I didn’t even realize how much we owed.
There is a temptation to say “Oh, well that loan is interest-free, so it doesn’t count” or “Dad doesn’t need to be paid back right away so I won’t put him on the list”.
Yep, I hear ya. But interest-free or not, pushy bank or dad – a debt is a debt. If you want the burden of debt out of your life for good, be real with yourself, and then commit to getting it gone for good!
Get a Community
It can feel lonely on a debt-free journey. You might have to say no to social events and skip a few fun things to make this happen. Friday nights may start to look a little different.
It’s easier to stay committed if you don’t feel alone in the process. Tell a friend, tell your mom, share this journey with someone who can be your cheerleader. I actually encourage you to shout it from the rooftops because I think this revolution needs as many voices as possible!
You are welcome to join our Facebook community for inspiration and tips and a group of amazing humans who are all looking to be intentional with their finances, too!
It took us years to actually commit to this plan, make the changes, and get it done. I can’t turn back time and change that – we weren’t ready yet. But I hope we inspire you to START TODAY! The sooner you start, the sooner you are done, and the sooner that money that you are using to pay off the debts gets to stay in your pocket!