Every so often, someone asks me how Scott and I are getting out of debt. And, if I’m being honest, I love to answer this question because I feel like I can offer hope to other people. The truth is that the answer is simple in its practicality though difficult in its application. It simply takes a plan, commitment to the plan and execution of that plan.
We’ve been on our debt free journey since 2011 and below are five things that I have learned along the way regarding what the journey is really about.
What It’s Really About
One: it’s about commitment.
The path to financial freedom is hard.
…let me repeat that.
The path to financial freedom is h.a.r.d..
But anything worth doing is worth the time and effort it takes to get it done. Some things require more effort than others. And some things take more time than others. Your job is to commit to whatever is needed in order to reap the benefits of what you’re pursuing.
Money is not static. It is always moving and, therefore, requires your attention constantly. You can’t take the month off when you know you’ve blown the budget and you don’t want to face it. You can’t stick your head in the ground like an ostrich when “life” comes at you full force and you don’t want to face it. And you can’t keep ignoring the stack of bills on the kitchen counter because you don’t want to face them.
You have to take control and decide that you cannot – will not – remain in the same place you’ve been. And then you have to act.
There are lots and lots of people talking about money management, personal finance and the road to wealth building in the world today. Whether it’s Dave Ramsey*, Suze Orman, Mr. Money Mustache, Thomas Stanley, or your Great Uncle Joe, find someone that has proven that they know what they’re talking about and then learn from them. Make (or follow) a plan and then commit to working that plan. Commit to doing it rain or shine, in good months and bad months, through sickness and health and everything in between.
Two: it’s about sacrifice.
In today’s (American) culture, we are inundated with ways and reasons to get what we want now. Right now. Today. This minute. Regardless of your ability to (really) pay for it.
Maybe that’s why the average American household carries $15,000 in credit card debt. Did you catch that?! Fifteen thousand dollars. Aye, aye, aye!
Come on, people. We can’t have our cake and it eat, too. We can’t keep expecting to maintain peace in our financial lives when we choose to forego it for momentary pleasure. Choosing to put off paying for something we can’t afford just so we can have it now robs us of the peace that comes with responsible financial decisions.
So here’s a question for ya: what if we delayed pleasure in favor of keeping (financial) peace? (click to tweet)
What if we decided that the status quo wasn’t good enough anymore? What if we chose to wait until we could pay cash for whatever pleasures our hearts desire?
Then, maybe – just maybe – we actually can have our cake and eat it, too.
Three: it’s about behavior.
True financial freedom rarely happens overnight. Instead, it most often occurs over time when choice after choice creates a behavioral change instead of relying on a monetary one.
The peace comes from within.
It comes with knowing that you are in control of your money instead of it controlling you.
Four: it’s not about your level of income.
You don’t have to make a lot of money to be financially free. And, just because you do make a lot of money doesn’t necessarily mean you are financially free. Millionaires who spend one dollar over that million are still broke. They have still lived beyond their means and spent more than they make.
Financial freedom is not about how much income exists. It’s about what you do with the income you have.
Yes, there is something to be said about having enough income to get you past just living and into living well, but that amount is not nearly as high as what you might think. Don’t use “lack of income” as an excuse to not better your life. Do something about it. Make better choices with the income you have and, if necessary or even if you just desire to, figure out how to increase your income along the way.
Five: it is about believing you (and your family) are worth it.
Do you know that you are worth the time and effort it takes to find both financial peace and freedom? Do you really know it? You are not destined to a life of poverty or one of “just getting by.” You were meant for more.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”center”]You were meant for more.[/pullquote]
But “more” won’t just come to you; you must go after it.
Money Is Only A Tool
Money is not the most important thing in your life even if it feels like it is. It is only a tool. The difference between those who are on the path to finding peace and freedom from the strains of money and those who aren’t is the decisions made about how to use that tool.
You have the power to change your financial life.
What will you do about it?