The following post is by MPFJ staff writer, Catherine Alford. Cat is a freelance personal finance writer who blogs at www.BudgetBlonde.com. Enjoy!
Paying off debt is a long road, and just like any goal, it definitely has its ups and downs. There are times when I’m so motivated to knock out my student loan debt, and there are other times when I worry I’m paying off too much at the risk of my savings account.
It’s hard to keep finances on track. I know that first hand, and I have had many moments in my life where I thought I’d never be financially independent. An off day in the stock market, a car crash, or a broken hot water heater can set people back thousands of dollars. However, there are many ways to deal with these setbacks and still get your finances on track in the future.
Below are some of the most common reasons that people struggle getting their finances on track, and luckily, each and every one of these reasons can be easily fixed! Let’s take a look.
1. Being Afraid to Look At The Number
I totally get it. Looking at the numbers is absolutely terrifying. It’s the first step to every debt payoff goal, though. You have to sit down, grab the calculator, and add it up. Once you know the number, you can move forward. Once you know the number, you can start reducing it.
Many people know that they are in debt, and they might even know a ballpark figure, but having “the number” front and center is so important. I’m a very visual person, so I have my goals hung up all around my desk. They include my debt payoff goals, goals for my blog, and tons of inspiring quotes to get me through the tough times. A system like this is necessary to keep you motivated to get your finances on track.
When you have a lot of bills coming through the door and hundreds of e-mails to sort through, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. However, organization is one of the most important things when it comes to getting your finances on track. There’s nothing more annoying than having your credit card interest rate jump up 10% just because you forgot to pay it. Additionally, no one likes paying late fees.
Stay organized by having a calendar or a planner. I like to kick it old school by having a planner I write on, and I am such an organization freak that I designed my planner myself to fit my lifestyle. However, many people also swear by many online money management tools, which I am just now starting to use in conjunction with my planner.
Accountability is absolutely necessary when getting your finances on track. When someone is looking over your shoulder, you are much more likely to do the right thing.
A blog is one of the best forms of accountability you can have. Your blog friends will cheer you on as you pay off debt and keep you accountable. Of course, they’ll also let you know when someone you say or do is a bad idea!
If you don’t have a blog, work together with your spouse or a friend. For example, you can choose a co-worker to have bagged lunches with so that you don’t feel pressured to go out to eat every day. These types of relationships are so important when you are on your journey to financial independence.
4. Celebrating Too Much Too Soon
One of the most dangerous terms in the debt repayment world is, “I deserve this.” This phrase alone has convinced people all over the world that buying expensive shoes (or whatever product!) is okay even if you are deep in debt.
I’m all about celebrating victories, but the reward should match the occasion. So, if you want to go out on a reasonable dinner and a movie date every time you successfully put $1,000 towards your debt repayment goals, that’s awesome. However, you should probably stay away from extensive shopping splurges until the debt is under wraps.
5. Not Trying Again
Getting your finances on track can be a discouraging journey. There may be many times when you go over budget and have an unplanned expense. I have totally been there, and it’s so easy to beat yourself up when one of these unforeseen events happen. However, the biggest mistake you can make is not trying again. Seriously, don’t give up!
Financial independence is a worthwhile goal, but it’s a long and arduous journey. There will definitely be times when it’s easier said than done, but it’s important to stay motivated even when it seems like you just can’t. Good luck. I’m rooting for you!
How about you all? Have you ever struggled getting your finances on track? What were some of the ways that you came out of the slump?
Share your experiences by commenting below!
***Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/70278809@N00/7125521691/