So, you’ve decided that you’re finally sick and tired of being sick and tired. First, let us congratulate you—admitting that is the first step to becoming debt-free! But it doesn’t just end there. What comes next may surprise you . . . getting the family on board.
Believe it or not, getting out of debt is a family affair. Not only do you have to be on the same page with your spouse (and kids), you also have to learn how to get the people closest to you to come alongside as your support team. But that’s no easy feat, especially when you have debt.
We’ve got some great tips and tricks to help you on your journey toward debt freedom while keeping your cheering section cheering.
Start Dreaming About the Future
One of the best things you can do to get your spouse or significant other on board with getting out of debt is something you’d never guess: dreaming. Yep, start dreaming about the things you could do if you didn’t have that mountain of debt!
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Maybe you would finally be able to take that family vacation—guilt free. Maybe you would be able to go on a mission trip and serve someone overseas. Or maybe you would be able to give away a large sum of money that you’ve only ever dreamt about.
Dreaming is the very thing that gets you to stop focusing on the problem and start focusing on what you could do if you didn’t have said problem.
For some, it’s that crazy credit card bill that got out of hand a few years ago and you haven’t been able to catch up on since. For others, it’s those dreadful student loans that just won’t go away.
Oftentimes, families just keep doing what they’ve always done because they forget to dream about what life would be like if they just made a few sacrifices . . . today.
Count the Cost: What Will It Take to Reach Your Dreams?
Now that you’ve spent some time dreaming (and getting your spouse on board), it’s time to count the cost. What will it take to reach those dreams? What will you need to sacrifice now in order to live the life you want later?
1. Create a zero-based budget
Every dollar needs to have a place. Fun fact: Most people starting their monthly budget often feel like they got a raise. When you tell every single dollar where to go, you’re able to make a plan for the future. Check out EveryDollar, our free budgeting app to get started!
2. Start Your Debt Snowball
Now that you have a budget, it’s time to start chipping away at your debt. List your debts from smallest to largest and start attacking the smallest debt with everything you have while paying the minimum payments on the rest.
Once you’ve paid off the smallest debt, add that payment to the next debt, and attack that one. When you’ve paid that off, you’ll start to see your debt snowball progress until you’re debt-free!
3. Get Gazelle Intense
Paying off debt takes hard work and endurance. It takes selling everything that’s not nailed down and never stepping into a restaurant (unless you’re working there). It will feel like you’re sacrificing in almost every area of your life . . . because you are. Don’t worry—it won’t last forever.
The harder you work to pay off your debt now, the more you’ll be able to enjoy your life later.
4. Continue working the Baby Steps
Everything in life comes one step at a time. And that’s the same with Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps. Getting out of debt and learning how to win with money also comes one step at a time.
It starts with saving, paying off debt, saving even more, investing, saving for your children’s college fund, paying off your home early, and building wealth so you can give generously.
If you’re paying off debt now in Baby Step 2, it won’t take you long before you’re saving for a fully-funded emergency fund in Baby Step 3. Keep working those steps!
Gather Your Squad . . .
Your cheering squad, that is! Getting out of debt and pursuing your dreams is not something that just happens. It takes waking up every single day and doing the hard work to make it happen.
But it doesn’t just start and end with hard work. You need to surround yourself with people who will cheer you on every step of the way . . . and you’ll be surprised who those people are.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. It’s true that your kids can have a tendency to help you spend $50 more at the grocery store on fruit snacks and cookies. But they can also be some of your biggest supporters—especially if you keep them involved.
When it comes to getting your kids on board, don’t be afraid to share what it means to be in debt and the dreams you have for them when you get out of debt.
There are plenty of ways to make your debt-free journey fun for the entire family. Have your kids help you pick out your weekly meals, fill out a goal tracker (like this one), or teach your kids about money with Financial Peace Junior.
If you run out of ideas, you can always look up some free fun in your area. Check out your local library, the zoo or your community center for free family events.
“You cannot have any fun while getting out of debt—is a myth. You can have fun when you’re getting out of debt.” — Rachel Cruze
Yup, we’re talking about your mom, dad, sisters and brothers. We all know it’s awkward to talk finances at family gatherings, but in this case, it’s the best way to keep your family at bay when you say no to the next vacation, road trip or tickets to the opera.
Your family may not love that you’re skipping out on individual gifts at Christmas, but if they love you (like they say they do), they’ll understand.
Plus, if your family has your back, they’ll likely support you when you tell Great Aunt Marge that you can’t come to your third cousin’s wedding shower in the Bahamas.
Again, finances can be a sticky topic—especially in the workplace. But if you’re used to going out with your coworkers for weekly lunches, it might be helpful to tell them you’re on the road to debt freedom.
So, the next time that calendar invite pops up, you can decline it without an ounce of guilt, or you can feel free to show up with your peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“You can wander your way into debt, but you cannot wander your way out. It’s going to take sacrifice. It’s going to take discipline, but it is so possible—to have no payments and to be debt free.” — Rachel Cruze
Getting out of debt is a family affair. And if you get a team of support behind you, there’s no stopping you as you reach your dreams.
If you’re ready to go all in but are having a hard time finding your cheer squad, don’t worry! You can find incredible accountability through a local group or online community that will cheer you on every step of the way with a 14-day free trial of a Financial Peace Membership.