Have you ever obsessively checked your bank account hoping you somehow forgot about a $1 million check that was going to be deposited into your account? Just me?
Rewind a few years and there I was, staring at our debt total, hoping the money fairy was going to fix this problem. It was very clear, though, that expecting our debt problem to be resolved without serious work was like expecting the Kardashians to make sound decisions in their love lives.
So I googled “paying off debt” and thus began our debt free journey.
While I have no regrets, I must admit, looking back there are some things I would do differently if given the chance. So if you are starting off your debt free journey, consider me your friend that’s a few steps ahead just giving you a few pointers.
1. I would still invest while paying off debt
Sure, it makes sense mathematically to throw all your money towards high interest debt, but if you have time on your side, prioritizing investing some money each month, even if it’s not big numbers makes sense in the long run. I wish we had started sooner and put less towards our debt to make investing a priority.
2. I would have focused on the big rocks instead of the little pebbles
“Every penny counts!” You probably hear this all the time. While it’s true that we don’t want to waste anything, I learned the hard way that focusing on the little things that barely moved the needle instead of the big things that would make a significant dent in our debt led to little results and quick burnout.
So what is a little pebble?
- Selling small things on facebook marketplace. The time it takes to take and post pictures, message people, deal with no shows, etc ends up being hours spent for just a few bucks.
- Picking up side hustles that don’t pay much. Of course it’s fine to give something a try but if you find you’re spending precious time away from your family for very little return, it might be a little pebble.
- Cutting coupons. I can already see the nasty comments from the couponers on this one so let me explain first. I’m sure they have their strategies nailed down and can get hundreds of dollars of stuff for next to nothing and that’s great! It works for them! For most of us though, we spend lots of time researching different apps for deals that amount to just a few bucks saved off of your grocery bill.
What’s a big rock?
- Calling your insurance company to ask for better rates or find a better plan that makes better sense financially. This could add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars saved per year.
- Asking for a raise or actively seeking a promotion at work. So many people immediately look to side hustles when it would be possible to make more money at the job they already have.
- Reassess your vehicle situation. Do you have vehicles you’re not using you could sell? Do you have a hefty car payment that you could get rid of by selling that car and getting a more affordable car? Could you get by on one car in your family for a while? Do you have a boat, motorcycle, RV, etc that you might be willing to sell to put a big chunk towards your debt? You might even be able to knock out your entire debt with the sale of just one of these.
Can you see how focusing on these big rocks will get you where you want to go much faster? Not to mention seeing the progress much more quickly will keep you from burning out.
3. I would not have bought into a “one size fits all” mentality about finances
Are there logical steps we can all take to make progress towards paying off debt? Sure! But if anyone tells you there’s only one way to do it and to not deviate from the plan regardless of your personal situation and circumstances, run! There are a lot of smart, well-intentioned people who have lots of advice to give but if that advice doesn’t sit right in your soul, and you stop listening to your inner voice, you’re doing it wrong. Listen to their advice, but don’t be afraid to make adjustments based on what works best for you and your family.
Paying off debt it hard, no doubt! But living in constant debt is hard too. So if I could leave you with one final piece of advice it would be JUST GET STARTED! Waiting only makes it harder when interest is accruing every month.
Believing your debt free life is just around the corner!
*This is not financial advice. I’m just sharing our personal experience.