My husband and I are in the process of paying off our debts. Most days are fine, but every so often it seems unbearable and unachievable. Do you see a lot of people in our situation who are able to conquer their debt?
The destination is worth the journey.
When I was a kid, my mom and I went on a trip with some friends. We drove to Georgia from northern Indiana during one of the hottest summers of my life. I got to ride in the back of a diesel Mercedes with leather seats and no air conditioning for the entire trip… with an infant in a car seat beside me (Hi Nat!). This already arduous trek was made all that much more memorable by getting stuck in traffic somewhere in North Carolina. I can remember getting out of the car while we were stopped on top of a hill and seeing cars reach all the way to the crest of the next hill in front of and behind us.
We were going to be there a while. And we were.
Our merry band of travelers eventually made it to Savannah in one piece, albeit a bit dehydrated. Once we cleaned ourselves up and drank multiple glasses of water, we went exploring around downtown. I’ll never forget the feeling of joy and awe while discovering the historic squares and parks. Even as a young child, I knew there was something unique and amazing about them. If I know someone is making a trip through the south, I try to find a way to ask if they’ve been to Savannah and encourage them to check it out.
All of the dismay, depression, and general suffering experienced on the journey down had faded away. I was only concerned with enjoying the destination.
Your journey paying off debt will likely not be a smooth road to travel. Let’s face it, life happens. Emergencies pop up. New wants and desires seem to appear out of nowhere. Priorities evolve and shuffle themselves around. All of these things, and more, will strain your ability to stay on course to reach your goal of being debt free.
But, stay the course. The destination is worth it.
As for historical success rates we see with people paying off debt… Remember this: the success we see has very little to do with the amount of debt that has been accumulated. Big or small, it doesn’t make much of a difference (in general). The common denominators in the “success stories” are 1) a refusal to keep things they way they currently are, and 2) the ability to make (and stick with) changes. The changes implemented could be behavioral (changing how you choose to spend your money), or they could be administrative/organizational (changing how/who you repay). In many cases, they’re both. Those that meet these two qualifications will find success no matter how long it takes. If you struggle with either of these things, your path to becoming debt free will take the scenic route and possibly make stops in other places along the way.
Most of the people we help benefit from reevaluating their month-to-month financial lives from the top down in order to make sure their spending and saving habits align with the goals, rules, and priorities they say matter to them. Once those things are established, it’s easier to keep them in front of you on days when the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be getting dimmer instead of brighter. Consistent reminders are a good tool to employ when you’re struggling to stay on track.
Paying off debt is a challenge, Jillian, especially when it feels like you’ve got hundreds of miles to go. But the destination makes it worth the effort.
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