I still remember the shock of realizing how much debt we had – after all, it is not every day you hear you are in $160,000 of consumer debt. How is so much debt to be paid off?
(I am not big on suspense, so I’d tell you: we paid off $160,000 of consumer debt in three years, and we have lived debt-free since February 2013.)
But let me get back to when I found out we are in so much debt.
At first, I went numb. Later, I got angry.
I was furious with my husband, with myself, and with the world. In fact, I was so cross that I couldn’t settle down even to reading a novel. So, I paced like a caged wild animal, and when I got tired of pacing, I went for very long runs.
So, I truly get it! You have just worked out how deep is your money trouble, and you are angry, twitchy, and uncertain where to start.
Then, you read some, and you figure you must slash your spending.
You think that this is how to deal and cope with your debt crisis – you will cut your spending to the bone and commit. There won’t be any more spending than necessary.
Yes, my friend, I get it. It is precisely the way I reasoned as a novice to paying off debt and wealth building. And that is the wrong way to go about it if you are passionately committed to paying off all your debt and living debt-free.
You will be wrong to cut your spending to the bone because this is the way to debt payment failure – within weeks, if you last that long, you would have lost your motivation, and the devil in your mind will be riding you to a spending spree.
Success when paying off debt, I found, depends on continuing to spend on the things that make you feel good and keep you healthy.
Here are seven things you must not give up when in debt and paying it off. If you find that you cannot do some of these, even to a basic level, you must go back to examining other spending and refocus on making more money.
#1. Grooming when you are in debt
It is tempting to neglect grooming and even personal hygiene when you are in debt. After all, haircuts cost money, right?
Dressing up costs money.
Cosmetics cost money.
Yes, you must spend money to look presentable though you must watch how much – it is easy to go overboard.
Still, cutting your hair, wearing soiled t-shirts with holes in them, and your knees falling out of your jeans is not a look that inspires confidence. It also signals depression and a regrettable lack of self-respect.
Paying off debt depends on you valuing yourself and projecting this to employers and creditors alike.
Don’t skimp on grooming when you are in debt.
#2. Keep clean when in money trouble
There is a lot on the internet, mainly within extreme frugality, advocating saving money by not washing your clothes regularly, taking fewer showers, and even not flushing the toilet.
Don’t try these saving tips. Trust me on this one, and just don’t.
#3. Keep healthy when paying off debt
This one is easy to argue:
There is no wealth without health.
Don’t neglect your health when paying off debt: it is an entirely false economy. If you find buying your medicine a stretch, check whether you are entitled to any help and benefits.
Keeping healthy includes looking after your dental health and hygiene.
#4. Keep fit when paying off debt
(Finishing Loch Ness marathon.)
We already know that there is no wealth without health.
Now, it is time to recognize that there is no health without fitness.
And this includes mental health, which is already threatened by financial problems. There is research demonstrating that most exercise is beneficial to mental health. Still, while running and other aerobic exercises work through generating good chemicals in our bodies, martial arts practice works also through meditation and mental discipline. What I’m saying is, paying for a martial arts class may be very good for paying off your debt in the long run.
When we were paying off our debt, I ran marathons and worked towards my black belt in karate. I also worked with a personal trainer – injury is more expensive than working under professional guidance.
#5. Keep some fun in your life when in debt
I remember cutting all fun out of our lives when we first started paying off our debt. It only made us all exceedingly miserable and didn’t have much effect on our debt payments.
We had to learn to allow ourselves to have fun and budget for it appropriately.
So should you and remember that much fun in life is free.
#6. Insist on quality in all things even when in debt
When out shopping, I am always guided by reminding myself that I am not so rich to afford to buy cheap stuff.
It sounds counter-intuitive, I know. But quality matters in all things.
Quality lasts longer and wears better.
Quality gives you more enjoyment of life. A glass of superb quality wine, for instance, brings joy, while several glasses of plonk give you a hangover.
Choose quality, pay a bit more for it today and watch it pay off in the long run.
#7. Generosity when paying off debt
Being in debt, and paying it off, can make us selfish – who will argue that the most important thing is to focus on the debt payments and becoming debt-free as soon as we can.
Here is the thing: selfishness is not conducive to a happy and fulfilled life in the long run. Generosity is because it makes us feel better without fail. Research demonstrates that helping others, being generous is one of the things that make us happiest.
Be generous even when in debt – keep giving because what goes around comes around.
Are you rearing to pay off your debt as soon as possible?
Great! That is how I felt – fired up and striding to our debt freedom.
On the way, remember that there are things that you must keep in your life even when paying off debt.
Because these are the things that keep meaning in our lives and make us human.
What are the things you will keep in your life while paying off debt, EOD Nation? Please share!