If you're like most Americans, you probably have debt. Credit cards, student loans, and car loans are among the debts that have a grip on many in our society today. (I'm not talking about mortgage debt in this post.) If you don't have at least one of these types of debts (or something similar), you are in the clear minority, a rare breed! Recently, we were talking to a relative who works in new car sales and he half-jokingly said we should come in a buy a car. When my wife said,” No way!” because we don't have any car debt, he quipped back, “That's un-American!” And you know what, sadly enough, he's pretty much right. That's just the way it is! But does it have to be?
Most people have bought into the idea that they will probably always have debt - hook, line, and sinker. I can remember discussing with a former boss our plans to become debt free (No, we're not there yet.). He seemed to think being in debt was a given. I believe this is a lie that has been marketed and sold to the American people for far too long. Being in debt is not a way of life you have to settle for.
How can you make it without debt? The first step is to actually make a decision that you are finished with debt, that you are tired of your hard earned money being paid out to someone else almost before you even see it! When you've finally made that decision, the next most important thing you can do to avoid becoming/staying a debtor is to have a plan. You know the old saying – If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. And for me, failing is going deeper into debt, or staying in debt when it really isn't necessary.
A good plan needs to include what you are going to do the next time something happens that would typically have you pulling out the credit card or running to the bank to sign up for another loan. It may be that you need to focus on building up your savings a bit so you'll have somewhere to turn in these instances. It may also be that you need to focus on becoming more content (see my February blog), and really learn what constitutes an emergency, and what the difference is between a need and a want. A good plan will also include a method for attacking and systematically eliminating your debts. (Hint: paying the minimum payment listed on your statement is NOT a good plan!) If you need help choosing a method, just shoot me an email me (see below).
If you've followed this blog, you know that we started with the end in mind, and that was extreme generosity. When you're in debt, whether it be a little or a lot, generosity takes a back seat to paying your debts. I hope that if this is the situation you find yourself in, like our family, you are not okay with it. Start today by putting together a plan to rid you and your family of the nightmare of your debt so you can begin to live out your dreams!