What does it truly take to pay down debt forever?
You write out your expenses. You reconcile the bank account. You commit to no more going over the restaurant budget. This year is going to be different. You’ve got the motivation— you’re so over this debt hanging over your head and the interest ticking upward every single day, and you know life can be better, freer, and less centered on your bank account balance.
And then life happens. The dishwasher breaks, you forget to track that Target run (what did you buy again?), you need to restock the kitchen with healthy food after a holiday carb fest. It adds up, and you have nothing left to get ahead on the debt. When will this cycle end? How will it end?
Well I’ve got some great news for you. First, you’re not alone. Second, the shifts you need to make are simple and you can do it. Third, I can help.
You’re not alone, you’re not the only one on your block who’s struggling (even if you make $300k a year), and there’s nothing wrong with you. You just haven’t gotten the entire system in place yet! Imagine trying to bake a cake with half the recipe. If you stopped when the batter was mixed, you wouldn’t have a cake, just like you won’t pay down your debt without the whole plan!
Here are the shifts you need to make and get the entire plan so you can finally beat debt and join the debt-free club: you need to have a response for when life messes up your perfect budget, you need your spouse to be on board, and you need a system to make one powerful habit change at a time.
It’s inevitable that life happens. An effective budget is not one that predicts everything that will happen in the month ahead, but instead allows you the flexibility to adjust when needed. To give you an idea of what this looks like, suppose that dishwasher breaks so you get takeout for dinner while you call the repairman. No problem – all you need to do is shuffle the budget so that the extra takeout is covered while you transfer money out of a short-term savings bucket for home repairs.
The second piece is getting your spouse on board. Maybe your husband or wife is skeptical but willing to give this a try, maybe they don’t see the problem yet, or maybe they need to see progress before they’re ready to commit. Remember this is a process and nagging doesn’t help. Making requests for them to help you do specific things usually works a lot better. For instance, ask them for 10 minutes on Monday evening to review a budget draft with you so they can give their input. Thank them for even small ways they contribute to the finances and keep the criticism in check. (After all, does anyone want to be more involved with the finances when they feel constantly criticized?) Look for opportunities to connect with your spouse, not merely communicate like roommates sharing the bills. When you accomplish this, you’ll start working together as a team and it will become easier to stay focused on your financial goals because you both feel supported.
Finally, you need a system that will allow you to focus on one powerful change at a time. Change is hard, no matter how simple. So when you have a ton of motivation and excitement to conquer a goal, it’s easy to commit to more changes than you can keep up with. Slow and steady wins the race. If you don’t have much awareness about where your money is going, start with tracking your purchases. The increased awareness alone will help you to be more mindful about spending. Then write out a monthly budget with a couple of short-term savings goals. If you don’t yet have a starter emergency fund of $1,000, this is a great opportunity to see how quickly you can get that accomplished. You might also start this year’s Christmas fund or set another savings goal for an upcoming expense so that you don’t incur any more debt this year.
Even though these shifts are simple, that doesn’t make it easy! That’s where I can help. Did you know statistically when you get one-on-one accountability, your likelihood of success goes up to 94%? Accountability is incredibly powerful! In coaching, not only do you get accountability, but we also take a look at your financial circumstances, your starting point, your goals, and what drives you to be successful. These are all highly individualized factors that deserve an individual approach!
If you want to finally be successful paying off debt once and for all, schedule a complimentary consultation with me. We’ll get clarity on what’s not working and what your next step to success is.