Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #14
Whatever you want to do, do it. There are only so many tomorrows.
One of the things I want to do is get out of debt. This fortune phrase hit it right on the head and I want out of debt now. Something I struggled with most of my life was my finances. I was never very good at keeping a budget and didn’t quite learn the skills to get me through adulthood. In 2008 my husband and I took a substantial financial hit, and everything came crashing down to an unforgettable end. Unforgettable because this was the time in our lives when we hit financial rock bottom and had to make a change not only for ourselves but make a difference for our kids.
We needed to wake up, and we needed to get our act together, and that is precisely what we did. It was hard, and it felt like it took forever. We kept going even when there were downfalls and unexpected events that would put us behind. With all our effort and teamwork we managed to pull ourselves out of the dark abyss of the debt black hole. It wasn’t easy, but with a little patience and a lot of determination, debt can become a not so fond memory of the past. Here are five ways to get out of debt and get out fast.
1. Goals, Goals, and More Goals
Plan some goals and stick to them. Goals help direct you and keep you focused on the essential things you want to change. Sometimes goals can be very overwhelming especially if you have an enormous amount of debt and you don’t know where to start. If this is the case, start broad and work your way to small. I know it sounds funny but taking a look at the whole picture and breaking it down will make you take a look and see how easy it can be as long as you stick to it.
Long range goals will be goals that you will have years down the road. These goals are the bigger picture. My husband and I have a significant goal to be able to travel and do some van living once we are completely debt free. We have planned to complete this task in the next five years and are working on getting to that point. When designing large goals ask yourself what is it that you want out of life? How long will it take for me to get to that point? Answering these types of questions will help you to understand what it is you want and give you an idea on how to get there.
Next, you should work on planning some medium range goals. These goals can be completed in a couple of years. These goals will help you to attain the big picture, and they can include, paying off certain debt like student loans, or cars. They can also be adding a side hustle to make a little extra income. Medium goals can be made on a yearly basis. Keeping a log can help you attain the common goals. Make sure to be as specific as possible and use positive words when writing them out as this will keep you motivated. Our common goal is mostly based on our side business and keeping it running smoothly and successfully. Our side business requires both of us to put in the time and effort. We also have a monthly budget that we follow that keeps us in check.
Last but not least is making small goals that can quickly be followed on a weekly basis. These weekly goals help you focus on the things you would like to accomplish in 6 months to a year. Our short-term goals are to get vehicles paid off which we have been able to do except for one and pay off any student loan or credit card debt, and we are continually working on this as well. We have managed to take out a pretty big chunk in both the last six months. Like I said we just keep going once one goal is made then we tackle the next. One of the things I like to do to keep me up on my weekly goals and this could be done monthly as well by using a dry erase board, and I write three categories. These categories are Want to Do, Doing, and Done and I will start my week with my task all under the want to do, and when I need to, I move the work to the next category until they are finished. I am a pretty busy lady, and sometimes all the things I think about will almost make my head explode so if I write them down and see them it keeps me organized and creates a less stressful environment.
2. Downsize Me
When we hit our financial crisis, one thing we had to do whether we liked it or not was downsize. We went from a four bedroom home with full basement, garage, and backyard to a three bedroom apartment, and yes it was interesting. We have two kiddos, and they were pretty young at the time, so they had to share a room because I had a side Ebay business that needed an office. We downsized and lived tiny for a while to get ourselves back on our feet. I will tell you my kids looked back on it and didn’t mind it at all. It brought them closer, and they had to learn to get along more. I consider this a blessing being able to do this and learning to minimalize. I became a minimalist because of the very reason of downsizing. It is incredible to realize the amount of stuff you don’t need.
3. Want a Ride
One thing that has helped us out is lowering our monthly gas expense. We live in Fort Collins, Colorado and we have to drive to Denver once a week for our side job, Which is an hour away sometimes a little longer so we have to be careful how much driving we do throughout the week. My husband’s full-time job is six blocks from our house so most of the time he uses a bike not only is it fun for him, but it keeps him in shape. I try to make weekly grocery trips and keep our going back and forth to a bare minimum. When we first needed to get back on our feet, we decided to buy a car from an auction site instead of buying or leasing something newer to save on monthly payments. It also lowered our insurance since the car was older the coverage was less expensive. There are lots of ways to downsize the amount of gas you pay each month, and this can make a big difference on what you will pay at the pump.
4. What’s For Dinner
I get asked this question every single day and more than once by more than one person. I am the meal planner and in most circumstances meal prepper. Back when we thought money grew on trees, we ate out all the time. Now I look back at it and think “Oh my gosh I wasted so much money and half the time what I ate was awful.” We do not eat out if we can help it. Not eating out can save you tons of money and not only that your waistline will thank you as well.
I am a planner, and therefore my meals are planned, and I prepare my shopping by matching coupons, sales ads, and discounts where I can find them. If you are healthy eater that is fantastic because so am I and I will tell you yes you can eat healthy on a dime and I do it all the time. I plan my grocery bill around what is on sale and where my discounts will be found. There are many nutritious foods you can eat that won’t break the bank. I also have an Instant Pot and let me just say this thing is sent from heaven above and is my go-to for most of my meals. I make soups, sauces, beans, rice, vegetables, even meat in this thing and it rocks! Not only does it help me make affordable yummy meals it is so easy to operate just set it up and let it cook.
5. Every Girl Loves Her Shopping and So Does This One
I love to shop and back in the day when I had no clue how to save a dime I did just that I went shopping. I look back now and realize that most of the time I was wasting time and precious savings. I am so thankful that I came to my senses and figured out I can still shop but just have to be more mindful in my shopping. I even have better things now than I did when I was spending money like it was water. How is that possible you ask, I am very keen on season sales and watch many of my online clearance sites. One of my favorite sites is Steep and Cheap. I am an outdoor girl, and this place has tons of outdoor clothing and accessories for huge discounts. Steep and Cheap is by far my favorite place to shop, and you can find some things as much as 90% off. I have paid that much off, and it makes me very happy when I do. To shop with them you need to get on the email list, and it is straightforward so it is easy to join. I also learned that I should only buy for the things I need and not to waste on things I want. So I wear out my jeans and keep shoes around forever. I keep the stuff I have in good shape. I am more aware of how to care for these things, so they do not need to be replaced.
Knowing your goals and planning them out will keep you focused on what you want out of your life. Making changes and downsizing things that you may not necessarily need can give you more to work with when paying off debtors. Carpool, biking, walking, or just being more aware of your driving can save you at the gas pump. Quit the takeouts and fast food and choose a more healthy and less expensive alternative. When you shop remember to ask yourself is this a want or is this a need and if it is a need try to get it at the lowest best price around.
Even though trying to control the debt monster can seem at times impossible know that with patience, dedication, and focus you can control your future. There are only so many tomorrows so instead of waiting jump in today and make those changes to give you the life you want.