Getting out of debt usually involves both permanent changes in behavior and some sacrifices. While you’re in the throes of debt reduction, you know it’s hard work, and you know it’s challenging, but you may forget something important.
Most of the sacrifices are temporary
That’s right, most of the sacrifices are temporary. And you can do a whole lot of things for a set period of time — if you’re making the choice to do so for the sake of your family’s future.
You might work extra hours at a job you don’t enjoy, skip vacations when you love to travel, or cut back on various things that you’re used to having (cable and cell phones, anyone?). Whatever it is becomes bearable because there’s an end in sight. And because you know it’s putting you that much closer to debt freedom.
Things look different when you know they’re not forever
If you’re staring at your budget wondering how the heck you can ever get along without _____, reframing it as a temporary thing can help you take the plunge. Canceling cable is not a permanent life choice. After all, if you cancel cable or put your cell phone contract on hold, you can always undo it again later if you truly can’t stand it. (Here are some alternatives to cable if you’re interested.)
But by giving things a try — say, for at least a month — you may find that you actually like life better without those things. Maybe you start spending more time interacting as a family, or buy less stuff because you’re no longer being bombarded by commercials. And maybe you really like the extra oomph it’s putting on your debt snowball.
What if the kids hate it?
Ok, so what if you’re on board with the sacrifices, but the kids hate it? As a mom I know it’s pure torture to not be able to give your kid the world — or even just the “in” clothes or unlimited texting. But I also know that kids have to leave the nest someday. Saying “no” can go a long way to preparing them to handle life in the great big world. (You learn a whole lot more about yourself from no than you ever do from smooth sailing on a sea of yeses.) Part of being a good parent is modeling appropriate behavior. Making good choices with your money does exactly that.
Besides, you’re not telling them they can’t have x, y, or z. You’re telling them you’re not going to be paying for them to have it. This could be a good way to bring out their inner entrepreneur, teach them about saving up for the things they want, or get them involved in finding other ways to get out of debt fast as a family.
So remember, while the sacrifices are temporary, the rewards can be permanent. Get out of debt for good, and you’ll find it a whole lot easier to live the life you love.