Are you taking the debt free approach? It might not be what you think. If you want to get out of debt and stay out of debt, you’ve got to make a permanent change to your behavior. Contrary to popular belief, that change isn’t “stop spending”.
Instead, it’s “stop spending money you don’t already have”. There’s a huge difference between the two — kinda like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
The typical approach
When folks are in typical credit-using consumer mode and want something, the thinking often goes like this:
- How we can fit payments of a certain amount into our monthly budget?
- Can get a good interest rate on a loan?
- Is there enough room on our credit card for what we want to charge?
In other words, it’s all about how we can juggle things around so that we can “afford” it. And by afford it, we usually mean (often without even realizing it) “continue making the minimum payments for as long as life goes perfectly”. Now let’s contrast that typical with the debt-free approach.
The debt-free approach
On the other hand, the debt free approach is completely different — and we can use it even while we’re still in debt. (In fact, it’s critical to start doing so then. Don’t try to wait until you’re debt free to start doing this, otherwise you may never get there.)
So how is it different? The debt free approach looks first at whether or not we really need or want the item. That’s not about deprivation either; it’s about getting what’s actually important to us and not filling our life up with unwanted or useless crap. With the debt-free approach, we’d consider questions like these instead:
- Why do I want this?
- Do I already have something similar?
- Is there an easier way to solve the problem I’m trying to solve?
- Could I buy, borrow, or rent this for less? Or maybe even have it given to me?
If we decide we do want to buy an item, then we go ahead and get it once we have the money. There’s no juggling involved, unless it’s juggling of our time or our spending priorities IF we decide we want to make that desired thing our top priority. We don’t have to agonize. We just figure out what we want, get the money, and buy it. It’s simple. We only spend money we already have.
It’s all in how you look at things
The debt-free approach is just a different way of looking at things –a way that saves thousands and thousands of dollars, and tons of stress and aggravation.
Plus, you enjoy the things you buy and do a whole lot more, because they don’t come with a side of guilt. (Once you get past the notion that there’s nothing wrong with planning ahead and then spending your hard-earned money on things that you want or need.)
Instead of coming from a place of “Ugh how am I ever going to be able to pay for this!”, we come from a place of peace. In other words, we prepare for the things we want and need, and the things we hope will never happen — and then we feel good about our actions and choices.
It’s a nice way to live, and I firmly believe that it’s possible for everyone. So how about it: Are you taking the debt free approach?