1. Your debt isn’t going to magically disappear.
No one is going to pay off your student loan debt. A stranger is not going to walk up to your door and hand you a check for $100k.
No matter how much you and your friends fantasize about it, you are not going to win the lottery and be able to pay off your friends debt as well as your own. (How awesome would that be?!)
You likely won’t marry someone who turns out to be a secret millionaire. I’m sure it happens, but you need to stop depending on this fantasy of someone coming to rescue you out of this pit. Your knight/dame in shining armor is….yourself.
The person in the mirror is the only one who is going to get you out of this mess.
It takes hard work and commitment to get out of debt, but you can do this. I promise.
2. You will fall down a few times before it’s all over.
Your car may break down and cost way more than you’d think to fix it. You might end up with thousands of dollars in medical bills because you decided to run, not walk, down the stairs to your basement. You may even have your two best friends get married in the same year and they both want you in the wedding – goodbye, savings account.
I’ve only been really working towards this for about 6 months and all three have happened to me in some fashion.
Just get ready for it, because it’s going to happen. Life likes to throw you curveballs to see just how dedicated you really are to this new lifestyle you’ve taken on.
Will you just give up and let debt come back into your life?
3. You may lose friends throughout the process.
Some people are pessimists by nature. They like to see people fail, so they may tell you that what you are doing is stupid, and that everyone is in debt. That’s just the way it is, they’ll say.
Everyone is not in debt.
Rich people don’t get rich by taking out loans and having car payments the rest of their lives. They are smarter than that. Just because your 5 closest friends are in debt, does not mean that everyone is. It just means you may need to find new friends – people that build you up and know that you have more going for you than you realize.
You are going to need a lot of support while you are doing this. There will likely be people that laugh at you for choosing not to go out to eat and get drinks with them every weekend.
Just remember that you will have the last laugh. They will still be broke in a few years, putting half of their paycheck towards their minimum payments, and you will be able to save half of your paycheck for your upcoming vacation.
4. You will also find your “true” support system
There are going to be people in your life who stand up and show their true colors, in a good way. These people’s encouragement is going to be crucial to your success. Having them there to counter the laughs and negativity you get from others will make all the difference. Your bonds with them may grow a lot stronger through the new, “cheaper” activities you grow to enjoy.
You may even find that your spouse is a lot stronger than you had previously thought. Their help and support may be that extra push you need to keep going. If things are serious enough, they too have a stake in your financial future and should only want to see you succeed so you are able to reach your goals together.
5. Going through this process will change your ideas of wealth.
Remember how you dreamed about driving that $60,000 convertible one day? I doubt that will still on your goals list once you are done with this. Money will just seem so much better spent on tangible items that don’t depreciate in value so quickly, like a home for your family or your child’s 529 college savings plan.
If you’ve ever had to give up an addiction you’ll know what I’m talking about. While you’re in the middle of it, that cigarette or beer doesn’t seem so bad. But when you couple it with the other pack a day you smoke, or 6 pack you drink, it can be hazardous to your well-being.
The same goes for blowing money on small items that really don’t get you anywhere. It’s like a shopping addiction. Maybe your drug is new clothes or finding the most “deals” on eBay. Maybe you’re in it for the bi-weekly restaurant outings or having the latest and greatest technology advancements. Because, if you wait for the next iPhone to come out you’ll be behind the times! What a ridiculous concept.
Whatever your addiction, having to struggle through paying off your debts will likely change your views on how important those things are.
6. You will have a newly found sense of freedom.
The struggle you go through while getting out of debt is going to be stressful at first. But once you get into it and really see those debt amount decreasing, it will become like a game. How much extra can I put towards my loans this month? Can I really out do last month’s milestone?!
You may get a little obsessed with it, but I think this is a good obsession to have. You may find yourself enjoying this “game” a lot more than you thought you would.
Once you come out of your “debt closet”, and show the world you are no longer hiding your actual net worth, your life is going to change for the better. There is no substitute for the feeling of not having to hide what’s really going on in your life. Not having to pretend you can afford something is extremely freeing. And honestly, people will judge you a lot less than you think.
Free yourself from the shackle of loan payments, change your bad habits to good ones, and show people how awesome being out of debt really is. I cannot WAIT to do the same.