Part of how I got to the point where I’ve really internalized the idea that debt does not have to be a part of our lives (even while it still is) is changing my assumptions and attitudes about certain things. Over the course of my life, I’ve built up beliefs and convictions and general assumptions that I’ve accepted to be true (such as the you’ll always have a car payment example). Realizing that they were just assumptions and not absolute truths helped me be able to let go of them.
Some of the changes I’ve made in my own way of thinking and put into action to break free from the assumption of endless debt include:
Debt is not an option
This seems like a simple idea, and it is. Why it is so tricky to embrace though is because if you pay attention, you’ll find that in the vast majority of cases, debt is given as an option. From the use of credit cards to adopting a payment plan, debt is everywhere. I honestly used to not understand when someone said they couldn’t afford something that seemed necessary (like a car repair or home repair). If I had available credit (and I always did) I could “pay” for it. But really, I wasn’t paying for it – I was letting someone else pay and paying them back even more than it started as. Adopting the attitude that debt is not an option gave my entire financial life a whole new set of rules. Harder rules, but ultimately better ones.
Actions speak louder than words
I can say until I am blue in the face that I don’t believe in debt and that debt is not an option, but unless I put that into action it’ll never become internalized. From not using credit in any form, to designing an action plan (and putting it into practice) of how to eliminate current debt, those actions cemented for me my newfound creed. Taking those steps to make my plan a reality has made all the difference.
Look for the catch (before accepting the message)
No money down! 12 easy payments! No interest financing! All those messages sound attractive, but in most cases, there is a catch (or two). Make sure you understand all the terms (including late penalties, prepayment penalties, basically anything involving a penalty) and that you have a solid, unshakeable plan to take advantage that can’t be derailed by life before you accept terms. In our personal world, life still derails things quite often, so we eschew payment plans no matter how nice the terms.
The easy way out is usually the most dangerous
All those commercials that claim to settle your debt for pennies on the dollar – most are scams. Just like the free laptop that only 1 out of 100000 people manage to make happen, debt consolidation is often a scam. if you can’t do it yourself, get help, but make sure that help is not for profit and not out to get you. Sadly, most are preying on vulnerable individuals.
Debt doesn’t have to be an automatic part of life. But breaking free requires more than desire, it requires commitment, planning, and perseverance. We’re not there yet, but every day brings us just a little bit closer.