Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Day 82 - Step 3: Get Everyone On The Same Page

January 4, 2011

I have developed a guide to help you (and me!) achieve the mindset and principles required to successfully become debt free.  This is the second in a series of posts about my Twelve Steps to Debt Freedom.

Step Three: Get Everyone On The Same Page
Photo by Paul Martin Eldridge / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Now that you have embraced Step 2 and taken responsibility for your situation, you have reached a critical point in your debt free process.  Realize that you can't do this alone.  Based on my experience, support from the people in your life is of utmost importance.

For example, part of your attempt to reduce expenses may likely decrease travel, entertainment and dining out.  Your friends may think you are crazy when you start turning them down for the weekly Happy Hour ritual.  Your family may become upset when you tell them you can't afford to fly home for [insert any holiday/event here].  Your husband or wife may freak out when you tell them you don't want to pay for cable or dinners out anymore.  Believe me, I spent one year working on my debt by myself and did fairly well.  But when Mike and I decided to join forces we began to do remarkably better - just check out the Debt Tracker in the corner!
Sharing your goals with the people closest to you introduces a sense of:

Accountability - Now that I am accountable to someone other than myself it tends to remove the desire to slip up and buy that latte or lunch out.  When I know I will have to explain my purchases or ATM withdrawals to Mike, it creates a system of checks and balances and discourages me from being lazy.  Any respectable person may be more inclined to "cheat" on their budget (we're only human after all) if they have no one looking over their shoulder - just like when the plate of cookies in your office break room disappears but you never actually see anyone eat one!  Put the plate next to your desk instead and see what happens.

Support - Face it, you can't do this alone.  You are going to need someone to help you through the tough days and tell you to walk away from the really cute dress you saw at Banana Republic (even if was on sale!).  If your family and friends are naysayers and think you are crazy, look elsewhere.  There are many discussion groups online that revolve around getting out of debt.  At one point, I listened to Dave Ramsey's three hour radio show EVERY DAY to help keep me on the right track (there is a one hour podcast version for those of you who aren't slightly crazy like me).

Understanding - If people don't know you are trying to cut back on spending, they are still going to invite you out to events where you will be encouraged to spend money.  Remove the temptation.  By explaining to them the situation beforehand, they may be a little more sensitive to your needs.  Plus your success is a great way to encourage your friends and family to rethink their own spending habits.

Think of the people who matter to you most and are your biggest supporters.  Give them a call this week and let them know what you would like to accomplish.

Read About Step 4: Get Organized


Kellen said... Best Blogger Tips

It is really tough when you're dating someone who's not as committed to saving money/paying off debt.  From my experience, it takes a bit of explaining to really convince the people around you to support you - especially if they don't think you have a problem. For example, I want to pay off all my student loans ASAP, but my family and friends just see that I have a good job and when push comes to shove, they are still more likely to say "Well just buy x and y items that you want" rather than helping by asking "Do you really need these things?" 

60kproject said... Best Blogger Tips

Kellen, I completely agree with you. For about a year I tried to pay off debt on my own while trying to maintain the same lifestyle with my boyfriend. I realized although I did make some progress, it was fairly slow. Once we both decided we were all in, we have kicked butt! I still have family members who make fun of me and joke about our cost cutting measures - but in the end I am VERY comfortable with the position I'm in. I spent the eight years after college thinking that I didn't need to pay down my student loans. Now that I'm in my early 30's, I wish I had taken action earlier. Now that I'm thinking about buying a house and wanting to eventually get married, not having these darn student loans around would make things a lot easier.

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