Doing anything fast usually has limited and temporary success.
Think about it… Lose 10 pounds in a week! Get out of credit card debt in 90 Days! Turn your investments into millions in a year!
All of these promises are pie in the sky. They might get results for some people, but it’s usually the people who sell the programs, not the people who buy them. You know this, of course, but here’s why you get taken advantage of anyway:
You want the easy way out. Unfortunately, things like getting out of debt are hard, and the debt itself is downright unpleasant. Creditors call you asking about their money. Your phone keeps ringing. The letters are even worse. You don’t even open the mail anymore. The pain builds and builds.
Then, just when you think you can’t take it anymore, you hear about a program that promises to get you out of debt in 90 days or your money back. Before you can say, “Suze Orman” you whip out your credit card and order the program.
As soon as the package arrives you rip into it and diligently put the principles to work.
Then, after just two weeks, you get tired of all the hard work. You don’t see the promised “instant results, ” so you put the books aside for a few days. Before you know it, it’s been a month since you last visited the program, and now you’re deeper in debt than ever. You tell yourself that nothing works, so you give up completely. That is of course until the pain builds up again and you repeat the cycle.
Are you seeing a pattern here? Do understand now why you should not try to get out of debt fast, raise your credit score overnight, or lose 10 pounds in 10 days? It’s because you’re impatience sets you up for failure.
You and I are procrastinators at first. We wait until the problem becomes unbearable and then we become impatient, demanding instant solutions. These “solutions” never work and, once we realize that, we become disillusioned and our motivation goes out the window.
Vendors understand our character defects and take advantage of it to the hilt.
They sell us on the “instant results” we want and give us a “money back guarantee.” These companies know we’re motivated by immediacy. They also know that most people never even open the box after they buy something. It just sits on the shelf. The manufacturer has nothing to lose no matter how poorly their products perform for you and me.
I don’t blame people who sell this stuff. Nothing I do or say is going to change them. But we can change ourselves. We want solutions, but are we willing to do the work to get the results? Are you?
A better approach is to break down your ultimate objective down into achievable daily goals. Let me explain.
Let’s say you want to re-make your financial plan. This is a pretty big exercise, and one that I’m in the middle of as we speak.
The first task I had was to create an action list.
I needed to look at my spending, savings, life insurance, investments, liability, disability, car, and homeowner’s insurance, continuation plan, and legal documents.
Was my spending in line? What did do we spend? Is our spending going in the right direction?
How much do we need to save? Are we doing it? What is the expectation for those savings going forward (given that I have 2 kids in college). Am I going to be able to save more or less over the next several years?
How have our investments performed? Am I over-weighted in any particular area?
Is my trust up to date? Are all the legal documents in order to protect myself and my family?
Do I have enough life insurance? Am I paying too much for it? How about disability? Since I’m self-employed, disability insurance is an especially big deal.
This is just a partial list of questions of course. Also, my experience tells me that once I do a bit of research and answer one question, it’s entirely possible that 4 other questions might pop up. This is not a process you embark upon with the idea of finishing in one sitting.
With so much to do, it was easy to procrastinate. It just seemed like I never had the kind of time I needed to take a big stab at this.
What I did was schedule an hour at a time to work on it. I didn’t give myself a deadline to complete the project. I just cleared my desk at home on a Sunday afternoon and went at it. After I complied the “to do” list, I chipped away at it, one item at a time. And I told myself from the get-go that this was going to take some time.
I needed to get input from lawyers, accountants, and insurance agents. I also had to go over everything with my wife. On top of this, I understood that the process was dynamic, and that I’d probably have to do it again in the near future.
To be completely frank, I’m not done with updating everything but I’m a lot further than I was before I started. Once I let go of the manufactured need to complete this immediately, I actually started making progress – and once I started working on with very focused time. I made headway much faster than I expected.
What have you been putting off? Are you willing to forge ahead despite the fact the you’re not going to get instant results? Can you break your ultimate objective down to daily tasks? Are you willing to let go of quick results?
11 Responses to “Don’t Get Out of Debt Fast”
I believe what you said made a bunch of sense. But, what about this?
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You might add a related video or a picture or two to get people excited about everything’ve got to say. In my opinion, it might bring your posts a little bit more interesting.
yeah—im 49 and for the first time im budgeting.
im the guy who always got a loan every 2 years because i never bothered having a hard look at where i spent. got lazy didnt want to know.
45k of debt has been reduced to 36k last year.no more loans/in 4 years i will be debt free for first time in my life,which i will be proud of
Planning and Goal Setting is a big key to successfully getting out of debt.
99.9% of the people that make their New Year’s Resolution(s) will fail because they don’t understand exactly how to make a Resolution a reality!
I once read that just like your muscles get tired if you lift too much weight, your willpower has limitations as well. In other words, if you try to “max out” your willpower by quitting smoking, saving money/paying down debt, etc., all at once, you may become fatigued. So there is a bit of pacing yourself, slowly stopping negative behaviors and replacing them with healthy behaviors.
I can absolutely relate to the quick drop-off when you take on too much change at once. I tried before to quit drinking, quit smoking, exercise more, and eat healthier…all at once. It didn’t work out so well.
Taking on one thing at a time, or making small steps that are part of an action plan like you talked about, seem to me to be a much better way to accomplish change.
Financially, I’ve found that find out where your money goes – your action list about looking at all expenses – was the biggest thing. And keeping up with it quickly and with little effort – with software tools that can connect to your financial institutions, download, and categorize transactions – all with one click.
Just knowing where my money is going, and being aware of how I’m spending on a daily basis makes it so much easier to spend wisely, and save. And without knowing how much you can save, it’s hard to start paying down debt without overextending yourself.
Good job Paul. And FIrst Gen, you make an excellent point. You blew me out of the water in fact. You paid off your house in 10 years! Way to go! You shot for 7….and maybe you didn’t make that but because you had a high goal and took action, you are reaping tremendous benefits today. Here’s to you!
tnxs Neal-will get on this after work today.
The other moral to this story is that time flies. Taking a small step now will add up over time. Doing nothing now compounds the problem.
I literally can’t believe I’ve been in my house over 10 years already…my payoff plan was 7 but it happened in 10. I didn’t move mountains to do it, but just put a little extra every month and the occasional windfall from a tax return or the like.
You’ve traveled a rocky road for sure. Sounds like you’re talking about debt settlement issues. If you go up to the search bar and input “Debt Settlement” Nickel has a ton of great articles you can start reading. This will give you the background you need to make a good decision.
I’m completley agree. We all want to get out of debt quickly, but it’s the process that teaches us how to stay out of debt once we get there.
Been reading your articles since last summer. Also been procrastinating on what to do about $11000 CC. Laid off about 5 years ago (Found new job),paid a lawyer(cheap)to that I was unable to pay. Now 4 1/2 years later they are billing again. I’m 64.5, looking at retirement ($800 month),employed and bringing home under $23,000 yr. Job is working with livestock and secure as long as I’m able. Not much other work here, and not educated for anything else. No rent to pay and no assets to sell. Few thousand is bank. Question: do I start paying, which will take several years, or do I look for a company,such as DebtRem, that might help settle for less?
Sorry to unload on you, but don’t know what to do except Procrastinate!