What do you think of when you hear the word “debt”? Do the words “frustrated”, “shameful” or “hopeless” describe how you feel about your situation? As someone who’s working to get out of debt myself, I can attest to all of those feelings and more. So now what if we flip the script? How about we change the words to “understanding”, “acceptance” and “manageable”? How can we do that?
The road to getting out of debt can be long and bumpy. Even those with a specific plan to get out of debt will experience emotional setbacks at times. While things like having a budget can make you feel in control, what will empower you when you have moments of denial, anger or sadness? Only a strong support system can help with that. I know that most people would rather not admit they have debt, but I’m going to talk about how sharing your story and creating a support system can help you stay motivated and get out of debt faster.
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You Won’t Have to Go it Alone
Nearly everyone has debt. Between credit cards, car loans, student loans and mortgages, living a debt-free lifestyle is not an easy thing to accomplish. Add lifestyle inflation and the temptation to keep up with the Joneses and it just got harder. Why am I bringing this up? Because it’s proof that we should all let go of any shame we might feel for having debt. You are not alone so why not band together and work through this with people you trust? By eliminating the idea that no one has debt or should talk about it, you are taking the first step to accepting and fixing your financial situation.
Once you admit to your loved ones that you have debt, they’ll probably start sharing their own debt stories with you. That means there could be people in your inner circle who have gone through this before and can help you either make a plan to get out of it or simply understand the emotions you’ll feel. Even the strongest planners can have moments of despair — especially if the debt payoff process is a long one. By keeping someone in your corner who understands the emotions you’ll face, you won’t have to face them alone. That means you’re more likely to get over the hump faster and stay on track.
You’ll Have an Accountability Buddy
Have you ever had a weight loss or fitness goal? Did you tell your friends about it? It’s a lot easier to go to the gym at 6 a.m. if you know your buddy is there waiting for you. The same applies to debt. By telling your loved ones about your debt and plan to eliminate it, they can hold you accountable to your goals. That’s not to say they should or will judge you if you experience a setback. That just means they can encourage you and keep you motivated. To ensure that this is the case, only tell people you trust and who will keep your best interests in mind.
Think about it, if it’s a cold winter day and your alarm is going off, you’re much likely to hit the snooze button if there’s no one waiting for you at the gym. Now what if you have an emotional setback with your debt payoff plan? You’re much more likely to get through it if you have someone to talk you through it than you would if you’re bearing the burden on your own.
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You’ll Have Someone to Celebrate Your Successes With
Staying motivated to pay off debt can be difficult for many reasons. One of the most common reasons is that it just takes longer than we’d like. Because of this, you should celebrate milestones you reach along the way. So you paid off half of your first credit card? Don’t keep that to yourself. Let your friends and family know so they can celebrate this great achievement with you. Then you can ride that motivation on to pay off the rest of that credit card. Keep this up and you might find that the celebration of becoming debt-free comes sooner than you expected.
You May Be Able to Help Others Later
The great thing about going through this with your support system is that once you start reaching success, others in your group may seek you out for advice and motivation. What could be more motivating than knowing that you’re actually helping others through the same thing? If you tend to be hard on yourself then you might not even realize how far you’ve come until others show you by seeking you out for guidance.
It’s not easy to admit to those around us that we have debt. Honestly, it’s not even easy to admit it to ourselves. But there’s no reason to ever feel embarrassed or ashamed — especially since debt has become so prevalent in our society. The more we talk about it and work through it together, the more others will do the same. Soon enough we may all be living in a debt-free society — or at least one less burdened by debt.
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Image: Henry Tseng, via Flickr