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February 2011
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Get Out of Debt, Stay on Track

I experienced my first snow in Michigan this year (since we have recently moved from Florida) and it was soo cold!!! I definitely forgot how frigid it can be when the wind is blowing. Plus, my skin is so dry, I might soon be mistaken for an alligator!

As I got into my Jeep and started driving on the snow covered road, I discovered that if I stay in the tracks that were made by the previous vehicles, I can easily maneuver and avoid slipping off the road. But, if I get distracted (fuss with the radio, look back at a car for sale, or answer a phone call) and drive off from the snow-cleared track, the deeper snow would grab the tires and pull me off the road. There I would sit, in the ditch, unable to get out.

The thought of this caused me to think about my debts. If I continue to keep my eye on the prize of being debt free, I will stay on the snow-cleared tracks and pay down my debts, one step at a time. If, however, I allow myself to be distracted (look at my neighbor’s boat, new car, or incredible renovation of their house) and choose to purchase some unnecessary items, I’ll hit that snow and get torn off the desired debt free path!

If you begin to stray from your budget and avoid the debt payments, it is very difficult to get back on track! There’s a lot of damage that can be done in a short amount of time. Here’s how your mind can lead you away from your goals:

  • If I get a new car, I won’t have to spend money on repairs
  • If I get a better computer, I will be able to use it to make money online
  • If I get new name-brand shoes, I’ll probably be saving myself some doctor’s visits because they’ll be good for my fitness
  • With a new tool set, I could work some side-jobs and easily pay for them with the extra cash

Almost always, these ideas will not get us to our goal of debt freedom. Here is my take on the above thoughts:

  • Brand new cars are expensive. There are plenty of ugly older cars with great engines. You just need to suck it up and learn that your car doesn’t need to be a status symbol
  • I am currently making money with a $100 used laptop that I found on Craigslist. A new computer isn’t necessary.
  • Some shoes might claim to make you fit, but if you don’t exercise now, what are the chances that you will in the future? Slim to none. If you need some shoes, find some for less than $15 at the discount retail store.
  • If you don’t do side projects now, and you don’t have cash to pay for the tool set, leave it at the store. Keep paying down your debts.

I know paying down debt is hard. I’ve been doing it for over a year now. If you stay on those tracks though, you’ll find yourself paying off your debts faster than you’ve ever imagined. Plus, you’ll learn how to manage your money in the process! So once you’re out of debt, you’ll soon be making great financial decisions about your savings and investments. Keep it up, and you’ll be getting rich in no-time!

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