The process of getting out of debt is as much physical work as it is mental. Making changes in our life style and our mindset is such a difficult but important step.
I have found that there are four very important aspects to this process that need to be remembered and achieved in order for you to reach the level of success that you strive for.
Those aspects are the four “p’s” of debt reduction
Like many of you, I am in a great deal of debt. In fact, I am in more debt now that I was when I decided to start tackling my debt. It hasn’t been an easy road for me due to divorce, unemployment, loss of a car and a move that was out of my control. It was until recently that I had my first real success in my debt reduction.
It was a great day to see that account balance at zero but part of me kept thinking “you have so much farther to go.” I wanted to share with everyone my success but kept adding in a “but” every time I told it.
That had to end and I had to remember the first “P” in debt reduction: Positivity!
Keeping a positive attitude during my debt elimination process has been difficult at times. I have fallen to frivolous spending and impulse purchases. I have spent money that could have gone towards debt when I needed a “pick-me-up.” I have spent times feeling down and depressed over my situation.
Whenever I have let those feelings seep in, my dedication to becoming debt free wanes. Maintaining a positive attitude is essential to this process. It is normal to lose that feeling from time to time but it is important to have steps in place to regain your positive attitude as quickly as possible.
Everything is easier when you have a buddy. Debt reduction is no different. Whether is a girl friend, a spouse or an entire message board, find someone who will allow you to vent but then help pick you back up.
Keep an arsenal of ideas in mind for when times get tough. What can you do to build your positivity back up?
- Is it spending the day at the park in the sun?
- Will volunteering with those who are less fortunate than you help?
- Is it coffee with a friend that helps cheer you up.
Whatever it is use those times when positivity is less to do them.
Planning is essential for the success of your path to freedom. Having a plan for where your money will go and how you will earn extra money is key. Have a plan that celebrates your progress and continues to push you forward in these efforts.
Have a plan for what to do when you want to spend money.
- Are you going to contact your buddy or spouse whenever the bill at Target reaches $50?
- Maybe you need a plan in place for what to do when you just really want to eat out for dinner (I suggest you have a list of some super easy meals that you can make within 30 minutes that keeps you from eating out. Perfect time for “Breakfast for Dinner” night!)
Plans can change and you should expect that. As you learn more about yourself and your relationship with money, your plan will evolve. This is great. As long as you always have a plan in place, your opportunities to lose momentum will decrease.
Practicality can come in many forms. It can mean being honest with yourself and about what you REALLY need.
- Is it practical to have cable AND Netflix?
- Is it practical for you and your family to have $200 a month in an entertainment budget?
It can be the devil’s advocate to impulse purchases. Asking yourself “is this practical” can save you from buying something you can survive without. For example, I was at Target the other day looking at kitchen gadgets. I am an avid cook and have been slowly trying to accumulate what I need in my kitchen. I wanted to buy a vegetable chopper (you’ve seen them on informercials, it dices the veggies perfectly every time) but I stopped myself to ask “is this practical?” The answer was “no.” While it would have been great to have because it would save me time in the kitchen, I do not need it. I can take an extra 10 minutes to chop up veggies.
And that easily I avoided spending $24.99. Practicality!
Perseverance is the final “p” of debt reduction. It is also the only way you will accomplish your goal of being debt free.
Perseverance is the result of failing and then picking yourself back up and trying harder. Let’s face it, at times you will fail. We have all done it (and more than likely will again). Anyone who has fought their way out of debt has had a weak moment and given in to impulse. The important thing to remember is to not backslide, just get back in the saddle and try again the next day.
Every time you fail and pick yourself back up, you grow stronger. You become more determined and you increase your momentum. Failures spur on the process when you do not allow them to take over. Use those moments to grow as a person.
The journey out of debt is a difficult one. At times it is depressing and can feel like it will never end. But staying positive, sticking to your plan, remaining practical and persevering will make this journey something you will never forget!
1: The Consumerist (text added by me)