I get a lot of great messages and emails and comments from everyone, and even when I post on personal finance forums everyone is very supportive. So I wanted to cover something that’s really important to me right now. I think everyone will gain something out of this post, and I’m sorry if it comes out a bit long.
The top thing that I want to say to people starting out on this journey — the same journey that I started out on years ago — is that there’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a lot of time to get out of debt. In fact, I think this is some of the best advice that you will ever get. We live in an instant gratification culture. This can be a blessing and a curse, but it ends up costing us in a lot of different ways. You see, you might love getting things quickly. It’s fun to know that you can stick something into a microwave and come out o the other side with cooked food. But what about when you are honestly trying to get out of debt? The microwave approach doesn’t really work so well.
Yet this is the dominant approach that many people take. They think that they’re going to stick their debts in a microwave, turn on the timer, and they will come out with their debts cooked down to a manageable size. It really doesn’t work that way.
Instead, you’re going to have to develop the discipline that comes from truly focusing on the things that matter to you. You are going to have to dig in deep and try to figure out where you can honestly go with your finances. You don’t want to just give up and figure that there’s nothing else that can be honestly done. You are just going to need to ensure that you can keep a steady eye on everything that ultimately matters to you.
Coming out with a solid plan can be hard, but who says that you have to work through it alone? There are now organizations that will be more than happy to give you some confidential debt counseling. Some people have a hard time opening up to their friends. I know I was in that category — the idea of my friends knowing exactly who I owed and when was utterly exhausting. I didn’t want to tell anyone. I wanted to just hide my face for life!
You get to a point where you know what you need to do. Sometimes it means that you aren’t going to be able to live the same lifestyle as your friends. I used to see a lot of my friends from university go out and get really nice cars. Did that mean they could afford them? No, not at all — it simply meant that they had a nice car and I did not.
There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you cannot afford certain things. However, many people feel that if you are telling them that they cannot afford something, you’re essentially saying that something is wrong with them. That’s not what I am trying to tell you at all.
All I’m saying is that you need to be kind to yourself. It’s going to be tempting to blame yourself and get angry. Responsibility really isn’t blame — it’s just realizing that you have to take different steps to solve the problem.
Good luck out there, and don’t forget to comment to me if you have any questions or concerns! ~Ellie