Friday, January 11, 2008

Frugal Friday - Debt Free...1 lb at a Time

Crystal is hosting a Frugal Friday. Here is my contribution.

Become debt free - 1 lb at a time.

Being in debt is like being overweight. It happens so slowly you hardly notice it. But once you notice it – it’s always on your mind.

Getting out of debt is like losing weight.

Just like it took a long time to add those extra pounds to your body, it will take a long time to lose that debt. There is no “quick fix” for either of them.

Sure there are quick ways to lose weight (starve yourself, take pills, have your stomach stapled) – but unless you change the behavior that caused the weight gain, you will shortly pile those pounds back on…and more.

Same with debt. Perhaps you win the lottery and get all your debt paid off..or a dead relative leaves you $5000 and the debt is clear, or you get your income tax refund - whatever. Unless you fix the problem that caused the debt in the first place – you will be on your way to a hill of debt once again.

It’s not easy losing weight. I know …everyday for about ½ hr I get on the faithful old Nordic track and ski up a storm. I hate exercising. I’ve been doing it faithfully for about 4 years now (never exercised a day in my life before that). I know that the only way I’ll keep my weight under control is by doing something that is hard, unpleasant and sweaty. I don’t like it. It hasn’t after four years, become something I look forward to. If I don’t do it first thing in the morning – I’m always thinking about how I need to do it – and I feel a bit guilty.

It takes time before you start seeing the results of your labor….a pound here, two pounds there, and you become encouraged. You realize “I can do this!” and that is your impetus for continuing.

Getting out of debt is the same way. It’s not a pleasant process – it’s painful. Your “exercise” might be taking up a part-time job, or maybe taking a part-time job in addition to your full-time job. Maybe the house gets sold and you move in with your in-laws (temporarily!). You make some significant household spending changes.

At first you’re not going to notice much difference – you’re actually going to feel worse. It’s gonna take some time before you notice that a pound of debt here is gone, a pound of debt over there is gone. And when you start seeing, start “feeling” the difference, you will become encouraged to “keep on keeping on.”

The thing is – don’t get discouraged because the task seems insurmountable. Don’t look for a quick fix and become more discouraged. Take it one pound at a time, and after much sweat and labor – it’ll happen.


Kathryn said...

Good encouragement. We're plugging away at getting rid of our debt, and we don't have too much left. That is exciting to see! Now, I need to get serious on those extra pounds!

Cindy said...

Great advice. We are excited about a new plan for the new year.

Amy said...

Thanks for the reminder to persevere.

Mom2fur said...

I'm a long way from being debt-free, but you are right--it takes time. And you have to change the behavior that got you there in the first place. I have, by learning to budget, clip coupons and watch for sales--and to do without! At first, you feel deprived. But then, slowly, you find you don't even miss some things. And eventually, it not only becomes easier, it becomes a game. I mean, what is more fun than looking at your grocery bill and seeing that, by using coupons combined with sales, you've saved 40%? thing I try to do is take the money saved and put it in a savings account. It might only be a few dollars at a time...but like those pounds that sneak up on you, those dollars grow steadily!