Why Bother Paying Off Debt

This is something I run into more than I expected. A lot of people I talk to are basically stuck on the idea that paying off their debt isn’t worth the effort.

Some will talk about the responsibility of the lenders, giving credit to people who will never be able to pay it back, charging ridiculous interest rates, caring more about their bottom line than their customers.

Others will speak of the futility of trying to get by in this day and age of inflation, high taxes, low wages, job insecurity, and lack of benefits.

Some blame their families, their environments, their luck, their lot in life.

Truthfully, there are as many reasons as there are people.

But the flip side to debt is almost impossible to explain to someone who has never experienced – or can’t remember – the freedom of a debt-free lifestyle. Much as the smoker can’t imagine a no-smoking lifestyle, the obese can’t fathom being active and energetic, and the alcoholic can’t consider sober and accountable, the debtor feels trapped by the weight of the financial burden.

Especially if a debt free existence does not include a huge increase in income; the debtor figures he won’t be any further ahead. But even living in need is infinitely better than living in debt.

It’s all about control. You want to be happy, independent, free. But as long as you owe someone money, there’s a big wall between you and your freedom. They have a hold on you. Every single piece of clothing you buy, every meal you eat, every movie you see, every drop of gas you put in your tank – every cent you spend – is clouded by the obligation of owing that money to someone else.

In our society, money is everything. Everything. (I’ll argue that in another post one day…)

Having money is freedom. Money means choices. Money is hope. Having things isn’t the same. In fact, having money and NOT trading it for things is the most empowering feeling in the world.

Should you bother paying off your debt?

That’s not the question. The real question is, Who’s in control?

If you have creditors, it’s not you. You owe them; they decide how much you owe, how much you pay, when, for how long. They call the shots. They can walk all over you, treat you like a doormat, disrespect you. Because you owe them. You are their servant. You will be their slave, working harder and harder, and handing your rewards straight over to them.

Without debt, you decide.

You decide your worth. The worth of your time. The worth of your effort. The worth of your skill.

You decide your value. You command respect. You deserve your dignity.

You decide your future. No one tells you what your priorities are. No one makes you choose.

It might not be abundance or wealth or excess. But it’s freedom. And it’s worth it.

Alex.

Don’t Let Your Debt Kill Your Social Life

One of the hardest things to manage when money is tight is your social life.

Friends call, they’re all going skiing on Saturday. You love to ski. The weather is perfect. The snow is ideal. Whiny Pete isn’t going. Your wanna-BAE is. This is must-do!

Your kids have been talking about a trip to the trampoline park for weeks. All their friends have been. It would sure get them off their butts for an afternoon. And they’ve been so good lately. Gotta do this!

Your wife’s birthday is next week. You know she’d love that new sushi restaurant. And it’s on a Friday, so you can really make a night of it. It’s for her.

Every day brings with it choices about how we’re going to spend our money. And the hardest things to say no to are always the funnest. Here’s some tips on sticking to your guns.

Focus On The Goal

Life won’t always be tight. In fact, without the cost of debt, you’ll free up more ‘fun-money’ than you’ve probably ever had. Sure you’ll be responsible and start your investment and retirement funds. But there will be fun in your future – only if you follow through with the entire plan and get yourself standing on a rock solid foundation.

Get Your Peeps On Board

Tell them what’s going on. You really want to do these things, but you’re working a plan. Things have been going a little sideways, and you’re working hard to get them back on track. Ask them to keep you on the invite list for the future – you’re in, you’re just a bit picky for now. Explain the program to the kids. Get your significant other to partner up with you. You don’t have to give details and numbers. But chances are, they’ll understand.

Research Cheaper Options

The Internet is a wealth of information. Use it to find less expensive options, alternatives, and ideas. Kids love nature. Parks and picnics can be incredibly romantic. And there’s almost always a coupon or deal to be had.

Living in debt can be frustrating and defeating. But it doesn’t have to be. With a little imagination and compromise, and a healthy dose of determination, you can create some of your best adventures.

And feel free to share your suggestions in the comments. Ideas are gold!!

Alex.

How NIKE Ruined the Best Advice You’ll Ever Get

We all know the slogan, right under the NIKE swoosh.

“JUST DO IT.”

Yeah. If you’re a runner or a swimmer or a climber. Whatever. Just do it.

There was some impact to this slogan when it first came out, along with some terrific visuals and intense encouragement. Sure, a lot of viewers felt a jolt of inspiration. Maybe a few were even sparked into doing something more than they thought possible.

But, as befalls all advertisers, overkill seems to be inevitable. And so, this particular phrase, while remaining one of the most recognized statements in modern history, has suffered the doom of a life sentence in the prison of cliche, without any chance of parole.

The words “JUST DO IT,” are now synonymous with NIKE.

And shame on NIKE for taking what is probably the best advice you’ll ever get, and draining all meaning and power from them with over use and commercialism.

I’ve recently lost a considerable amount of weight. Enough that I am constantly being hit with the question, “How?”

Not the “How do you lose weight?” question. We all know the answer to that: more output than intake. It’s all in the math.

No, the real question is “How did you get started?”

Those who need to lose more than a few stone know that we don’t need a new diet, a funky new exercise, a dreaded trainer, a doctor, an intervention. We know all the rules. In fact, no one knows more about nutrition that those of us who need to lose some weight.

What we need is a dose of magic – a pill, an event, a spark – that puts us in the right mindset to want to make the sacrifices necessary to successful weight loss. The fact is, losing weight is as easy as breathing. But only if and when your mind is in the game.

The big question is: How do I get into that mindset? How do I convince myself that I want/can/should do this? How do I get started when I just don’t want to do it, even when I know I should?

And the answer is obvious. JUST DO IT.

Yeah, yeah.

No. Think about the words. Not the cliche.

JUST. Keep it simple. Don’t plan. Don’t think. Don’t worry. Don’t add in a whole bunch of dreams and hopes and fears and emotions. JUST. One thing. One focus. One.

DO. Act. Go. Move. You know what to do. You don’t need to prepare and spend and organize and anticipate. Start. Now. Don’t listen to that whiny voice in your head.

IT. Lose weight. Attack your debt. Get that job. Meet that girl. Whatever your IT is. One thing. You know what IT is. You know how to do this. If IT is your obstacle, you know everything about IT. Make IT your bitch. Climb all over IT. Conquer IT.

JUST DO IT. Don’t think about it. Don’t wonder what if. Don’t waste time and energy with IT in your head. Get IT out there and face IT straight on. No feeling sorry for yourself. No regrets. Just IT. JUST. IT.

Until you feel some success. Until some little thing happens that makes you look up from your charge to realize, hey, this is working. I’m doing IT. I’m getting somewhere. I can do this. I can keep going. I am a god!

When you make the transition from the blind focus of JUST DO IT to, LOOK AT ME! I’M DOING IT, the energy and enthusiasm you gain from that success brings on a momentum you couldn’t have imagined. And you find yourself wondering why you didn’t JUST DO IT a long time ago.

If debt is your nemesis, fight back. Open the bills; read them. Call your creditors. Face the music. Add everything up. Take control. JUST DO IT. You know what IT is. JUST DO IT. And when IT starts to become a thing separate from you, instead of defining you, when you become the boss, when you take charge, when you realize that you’re DOING IT! life becomes a whole lot better!

Stacey.