Have you ever had sharp tooth pain hit ya outta nowhere? But it only happens that once so you ignore it…then days later the pain is constant and its all you can think about.
And even though common sense says go to the dentist, you keep right on ignoring it. Ignoring it until the pain is so bad you are living on mashed potatoes and jello, and can only chew on the left side. #we’resuckersfortrouble.
This very thing happened to me, and of course I happened to be on vacation at the time! #aintnobodygottimeforthat
By the time I finally took by butt to the dentist, I had a huge cavity…on vacation!!! Nope, not feelin’ it.
Debt is like a nasty cavity, and the longer it’s ignored the worse it gets, until you need a root canal. And root canals are NOT the bizness, trust me. DON’T ignore your debt!
Here’s the thing, there are soooo many books, articles, advice columns, podcasts, and blogs (including this one) that will help you get out of debt.
But there are NOT many places that explain the necessary steps you need to take BEFORE you set off on your debt free journey!
Its just like going on a trip, you don’t just hop in the whip and take off…well you don’t if you wanna actually make it to your destination with as little trouble as possible.
You have to prepare!
Do you want to drive or fly? If you drive, what route are you going to take? How much gas do you need? FOOD…bring all the foods. Are you going to make pit stops on the way or drive straight through? Is your car in good shape before you head out? Do you have road side assistance? What are you going to do if your car breaks down? Who is going with you? On and on….
There are a quite a few things you need to nail down to set your trip up for success. It’s the same way with your debt, if you want to get it paid off ASAP with few hiccups, then you need to get some ish straight BEFORE you start out.
Here are the 6 must do tasks that helped me to set the foundation before paying off our debt and a few things that I wish I had known beforehand:
- Know Your Why– OMG I cannot even begin to tell you how important this first one, if you don’t take away anything else from this post REMEMBER THIS ONE…cause newsflash, this debt free journey ain’t no walk in the park!
At some point you are going to hit a wall, you are going to feel frustrated, deprived, self-righteous, like quitting, stuck, sad, lonely, angry, I mean…ALL.THE.THINGS.
If you haven’t taken the time to really figure out WHY you want to get out of debt, then I can tell you right now, you aren’t gonna stick with it.
So what do I mean when I say your “why”?
I don’t mean surface stuff like, “because my friends and family say its bad” or “cause I know it’s the right thing to do”. Because when times get tough…doing the “right thing” just ain’t gonna cut it.
You need to dig DEEEPP, I mean really really deep. Your answer should be one that you FEEL, there should be an emotional reaction to it, a feeling from your gut.
Is it because you fear what your financial future would look like? Are you concerned that you or your family will end up losing your home? Are you tired of hiding your financial truth? Do you feel like you’re living a double life and want to stop? Is your debt stealing your dreams or keeping you chained to a desk at a job you hate?
For me it was the fact that I wanted to start a family and be home with my baby…totally not possible with mountains of debt ON FIRE in my back yard. I also HATED my long work hours and crazy 4-6 hour work commute!
And most importantly, I was absolutely scared outta my mind thinking about what would happen to me if my husband decided to snuff it or trade me in for a newer model! The financial devastation would be epic and I didn’t want to end up back there…AGAIN.
So you can bet your pretty lil’ head, that when the going got tough for me, I dragged every single reason out for a party! You NEED to figure this one out, it may be the only thing to motivate you and keep you going in the end.
- Know Your Numbers– After you figure out WHY you need to let go of your debt, your next step is to figure out just how much debt you have.
***WARNING – TOUGH LOVE ALERT***
This is NOT the time for being ashamed or sticking your head in the sand! Its time to put ya big girl panties on and decide right here and right now to deal with this monster! Go grab your calculator and all of those bills you’ve been ignoring and make a list of what you owe. You cannot be successful at this if you are going to act from a place of ignorance…knowledge is power!
Bonus: the number may just shock you into taking action.
“Action is the antidote to fear.” -Ruth Soukup
- Communicate– If you haven’t already, you need to bring your significant other on board. First, there needs to be honesty and transparency about the state of your finances, especially if you’ve kept them in the dark. And going forward, there should always be transparency even if you are mainly responsible for the bills.
Legit, this thing is gonna kick you in the teeth sometimes and you need to be prepared. There is nothing like someone having your back and attacking as a team, especially when you hit those weak points.
They can help to serve as a reminder of why you’re doing this in the first place! Don’t underestimate the power and resolve of a determined team!!!
- Pick a Strategy– There are a ton of ways to go about paying down your debt. Debt avalanche, debt snowball, renegotiation, etc. It doesn’t matter which method you chose as long as it is one that works best with your personality.
The more important thing to do is to actually chose one! You don’t want to approach this blindly. That’s like going on a trip from California to New York with NO road map…no bueno.
- Decide on Rewards– You read that right…rewards! This is also an important one and key to your success. It goes back to understanding what motivates you. As you start kicking debt in the face you need to celebrate every little win by rewarding yourself. This helps to keep your motivation high.
Take your time picking out things that you really want. Whether that’s a fun staycation, a fancy dinner, a new book, a weekend of binge watching The Walking Dead. Whatever gets your motor running.
The only caveat is that you CANNOT take on any debt to get it nor forgo paying any bills!!! Not everything worth having/doing costs money. 😉
- Plan for Roadblocks & What Ifs – If you stick around long enough, you’ll see that I am always warning to watch out for Old Murphy…you know Murphy’s Law?
He’s like the stray cat in the neighborhood always creeping around your backdoor waiting to trip you on the way to take out the trash. I can almost guarantee that as soon as you make the commitment to paying down your debt, he’ll come sniffing around.
He’ll show up as a blown transmission, or a nasty medical bill, or a particularly bad day that results in an EPIC shopping spree, or any number of setbacks.
Well don’t wait for him to creep up on YOU, get the jump on HIM by putting a plan in place to handle these unexpected things…by expecting the unexpected you take away its power to derail your plans.
Put aside money from every paycheck to establish an emergency fund, make of list of activities that help you de-stress when you’re ready to hit the roof, know which supportive friend you will call when you need to be talked off the ledge…you get the idea.
While climbing out of debt can be an uphill battle for many, you can set yourself up for success by doing a lil’ recon before you hit the ground running. Setting a solid foundation will give you confidence that you CAN do this and WILL do this! What are you waiting for?
What do you wish you had done or known before you started out on your debt free journey? Drop a line below!