On Your Mark, Get Set…GOOOOOOOOO!
Let me just say, first things first, there is no ONE SIZE FITS ALL way of controlling your debt. This is an individual practice. So… you have debt? Guess what? Most people do, in one way or another and for a multitude of reasons. I think most people think that debt happens solely from uncontrolled credit card spending. WRONG. Not true. Unforeseen medical expenses, student loan pressures, family issues, job loss, accidents and more can all lead to debt occurring. How to handle this? Just take that first step to get a clear honest picture of your finances, no matter how terrible you think they are. Seeing it on paper, can be humbling but also rewarding. Yes, I said rewarding. If you treat this like a game, you will be able to start knocking out your debt little by little. So just think…it’s not terrifying…it’s just a game and you are playing to eventually win!
For people in the Minor Leagues of this Debt Game, it is just a matter of finding a way to take control of your spending habits. Taking an honest look at your budget, is really the first step. There is no need to buy into apps for this if you have a spreadsheet application or know how to make one yourself. Research online, most Word doc programs come with templates. What I am saying is, do not purchase such things and add to your debt.
Once you have your monthly income to spend ratio figured out, you need to make a commitment to only spend exactly what you have, when setting off to make a plan for a pay off method for your debts. That means, be realistic. If you see you are spending $30 a week on Starbucks, CUT THAT OUT! That is thirty dollars that can go toward any bill, if you can maintain going without overpriced sugary coffee drinks. Opt for making your own coffee at home if you absolutely need it or conquer debt and health and diet habits simultaneously by going without for a committed period of time, until you make a dent in the negatives of your budget. Just remember, all this that you are going through is temporary.
For others, in the Major Leagues of the Debt Game, they may need specific care that is beyond what they can reason themselves. Who are these people? If you are only paying bare minimum on your revolving accounts and you are making a choice between doing so and eating a necessary meal, it is time to look beyond yourself for help. Confidential debt advice is available for free from several outfits online to help you take control of your debt such as StepChange (which is a charitable org).
So, which are you? Minor League or Major League? Once you figure out whether you need just a little commitment and discipline or an actual professional specialist to get yourself back on track, just be kind to yourself. A lot of people overstress and beat themselves up over the shame of having debt. It’s energy not well spent. Again, think of this like a game. If your Player only has a certain amount of lifeforce of energy to conquer a maze, and they spend it all worrying about which direction to go, instead of making moves, guess what, eventually it is GAME OVER.
So, ok, you have figured out you have debt. Once you see on paper or app document that you have a problem, look for the root of that problem. Be honest with yourself with what is fixable right now to help you take action. In the past year and a half, everyone’s life has taken an unexpected turn. So, there are more people in your situation, most likely than not.
It is important to reward yourself just like a videogame would when you meet certain goals to eliminate debt. Now, by reward, I don’t mean go out and spend unnecessarily, simply just take a walk, or watch that favorite movie you love. It’s the small wins that lead to the final goal.
I’m not someone who has all the answers. All I can do is encourage you to fight for yourself in this Game of Life and take control from TODAY. It is doable.