There Is No Magic Pill for Debt Freedom

I can’t tell you the countless times I have been tempted by the magic pill.

You know the one I am talking about; the one that claims you can lose 20 pounds in one month without exercising, get rich working just four hours a day, or the one you can take to get rid of your debt.

The magic pill seems like an answer to your problems and the best part is you don’t have to do anything except swallow.

Who wouldn’t be tempted? The problem with magic pills is that they are missing the key component to accomplishing any goal, changing your habits.

Habits

Take weight loss for example. I have been on countless diets claiming I can lose weight by eating special soup, drinking funky concoctions, or cutting out an entire food group completely. What’s wrong with these diets is they aren’t changing my bad eating habits for the long term; they are a Band-Aid covering up the underlying issues. Any good weight loss program includes lifestyle changes; a healthy diet that you can stick to combined with exercise that works with your schedule. Vowing to exercise seven days a week for two hours a day is unrealistic. Exercising three-four times a week for an hour is a healthy habit most of us could live with. Getting in the habit of eating healthy and exercising will get the pounds off and keep them off for good. We all know what happens when you take the magic pill, great results that last until you fall back into your bad habits that got you there in the first place.

Think about your debt problem. Did you wake up one morning with fifteen thousand dollars in credit card debt or did you spend more than you earned over a period of months or years? For most of us the latter is the case. We got in the habit of buying a latte every morning before work, eating out every Friday night, or buying the latest tabloid magazine each week at the grocery store. The problem here isn’t that we made one financial mistake; the problem is we kept making the mistake week in and week out without giving it a second thought until one day looking at the credit card bill we realize we got in over our head. A magic pill can’t fix the problem, but hard work and lifestyle changes can.

Small Changes

It’s small changes that become habits over time that yield results. Remember the debt didn’t happen overnight, it happened because you continued to make bad decisions that became habits. Getting out of debt works much the same way, making good decisions that become habits.

  • Save those pennies. You have heard countless times about the importance of an emergency fund. Even if you can only spare a few dollars a week make saving for a rainy day a priority. This keeps you from having to pull out a credit card if something that is not in the budget pops up.
  • Just say no to impulse buys. Shopping can be dangerous for many of us. Avoid the urge to splurge by mentally preparing yourself to get what you need and get out. Just because it’s on sale, you have a coupon or just have to have it does not make it a need.
  • Use it up. This is an area our household could do a much better job with. My father will wear a shirt until it has holes in it, fix a broken mower a hundred times before purchasing a new one, and the couch that sits in my parents living room is circa 35 plus years, there are baby photos of me on it and I just celebrated a birthday this week.
  • Skip the subscriptions. At one point in time I subscribed to 5 different magazines, the daily paper and the gym. I only ever got around to reading the Sunday paper, maybe one of the magazines, and the gym well lets just say that unless you are dedicated this is huge waste of money. Get your news and magazines fixes online and make a date with a workout DVD or walking buddy.
  • Save where and when you can. It may seem silly to strive to get the best price on every little thing, but every penny saved is one more for your savings account. Get in the habit of clipping coupons, shopping sales, and buying in bulk where it makes sense.

Remember small changes can yield big results. A complete overhaul of your spending all at once is likely to lead you to splurge down the road. Think about those magic pills…The minute you stop taking them you wind up right back where you started. By slowly making small changes to your lifestyle you can develop good habits that can last a lifetime.

Have you taken magic pills? What was the outcome?

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About Suzanne Cramer

12 Responses to “There Is No Magic Pill for Debt Freedom”

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  1. Brad Chaffee says:

    This is a great post Suzanne!

    I’ve been studying about changing the underlying structures in our lives that create the habits that drive our behaviors. It’s amazing how we unknowingly build bad financial habits over time without even realizing it. Changing those underlying structures are the only way we can change our unwanted behaviors long term. Slowly and over time. NO magic pill ever works when looking for permanent behavioral change. :D

  2. Good post and great analogy with weight loss. I couldn’t agree more that they’re all too often a band-aid covering a gaping wound. The issue is behavior change and changing your habits to bring them in line to where they should be.

  3. Cassi says:

    I never actually believed in the “magic pill.”

    I’m not sure why. Maybe my parents raised me that way, or maybe I just have an exceptionally low tolerance for propaganda. Either way, I never thought 1 magic thing will fix my problems.

    Impulse buys and subscriptions will be the death of me. I love magazines though, and I really did need those gummy worms when I was at the mall…

  4. Excellent post. There is no get rich schemes or magic pills out there you are right. I always say it’s better to save a dollar each month than nothing at all. Small changes like you say lead to big payoffs. It might not happen over night but when it does you will be darn happy you did it. Mr.CBB

  5. Vicki says:

    Excellent post! :) It is tough changing those habits, especially when you live with someone who impulse buys.

  6. @Vicki I live with one of those too! My boyfriend is a horrible grocery shopper, if he wants it it goes in the cart no matter what the price is…Agghhh!!!

  7. Somehow we as Americans have all been programmed to look for the easy way out of things. I just wonder how much more this has cost people over the long term rather actually taking the time to do things right the first time.

    Great post Suzanne.

  8. @Chris Your comment had me thinking how many times over the years i purchased one of those crazy fad diets only to find they work inititially but never yield longterm results. Eating healthy and exercise is the only wat to stay fit and healthy. Hardwork=Results! Glad you enjoyd the post :)

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