What to Expect on Your Debt-Free Journey

6 Minute Read

You did it. You decided to kick debt out of your life forever! That calls for some serious celebrating.

But before you start dancing circles around Sallie Mae, make sure you’ve completed Baby Step 1 by getting $1,000 in the bank. If you haven’t yet, back up. You’ll need this money if any unwelcome emergencies decide to crash the party.

Related: 15 Ways to Save $100 to $1,000 With Minimal Effort

When you’re ready to continue with Baby Step 2—paying off all your debt (except the house) with the debt snowball method—find inspiration along the way by listening to others share their debt-free stories. Millions of people have been where you are today. And you’ll be where they are soon!

Until you get there, check out our list of 16 things people just like you do when starting the debt snowball. You’re in good company.

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1. They doubt.

With a mountain of debt to overcome, doubts are absolutely normal. Don’t beat yourself up for having them. Just redirect that energy into confidence. You’re doing the right thing for your family, even if no one else gets it. You will succeed!

Don’t beat yourself up for having doubts. Just redirect that energy into confidence.

2. They get gazelle intense.

Here’s how this analogy works: Imagine you’re a gazelle, grazing in the wild. Out of the corner of your eye, you see a starving cheetah, your biggest enemy. Should you A.) sit there and wait to be hunted down, or B.) run like your tail is on fire? Yeah, you run. Get out of debt like a gazelle gets out of harm’s way—fast!

3. They listen to (or watch) The Dave Ramsey Show.

When you listen to your broke friends talk about how broke they are, you become like them. When you listen to inspirational folks talk about how they destroyed debt, you become like them. Fill your mind with daily encouragement by following us on Facebook, Twitter, the podcast or the Video Channel.

4. They sell stuff.

If you haven’t used it in a year, you probably don’t need it. That’s why Craigslist is full of your old tents, Christmas decorations and cell phones. You’ll even sell the car if you have to. You’re just that hardcore.

5. They shop for bargains.

Maybe you don’t clip coupons in the traditional sense, but you’re always looking for a deal. Hey, if you can get something on sale, why would you mess with full price? That’s more money in your pocket and less debt in your life.

6. They make a budget every month.

This may be your first time budgeting, or you may just be buckling down. Either way, you have a handle on your income again. And it feels so good! When you give every dollar a name, nothing goes to waste.

Related: Create your budget in less than 10 minutes with the free online app EveryDollar.

7. They use cash.

The envelope system revolutionized how you spend your money. When the money is gone, it’s gone. No overdraft fees. No sky-high interest to repay. Who knew something so simple could be powerful?

8. They involve the family.

Getting out of debt takes a team. When your kids buy into your debt-free dream, they stop complaining and start saving. It’s amazing. Invite them to your budget meetings and show them how important they are to making your goals a reality!

Related: Get age-specific tools to help your kids become smart with money.

9. They work hard.

Sometimes it takes a second job or some freelance work to earn the extra cash you need to knock out your debt. Delivering pizzas. Driving for Uber. House-sitting over the holidays. It all adds up.

10. They think visually.

A debt thermometer chart and a rewards system are small ways to turn something as boring as electronic payments into tangible wins. Even a celebratory pizza party with the kids can be enough to keep you all going.

11. They say no.

There are things you need. And then there are things you want. You’re one of the rare people who actually knows the difference. Your budget is all about needs at the moment. You’ll get to what you want. Later.

12. They pack their lunches and brew their coffee.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. But the next best thing is leftovers! And when it comes to coffee, you can save at least fifty bucks a month by brewing your daily dark roast instead of buying it at Starbucks, according to USA Today’s coffee cost calculator. So why wouldn’t you?

13. They spend time with true friends.

True friends don’t care what brand you’re wearing or what model car you’re driving. True friends will support your efforts to improve your life. And they won’t expect you to keep up with their lifestyles—even if they aren’t quite ready to get out of debt themselves.

True friends will support your efforts to improve your life.

14. They get creative.

Necessity is the mother of invention. With all your extra cash going toward debt, you’ve discovered how to stretch a meal with rice, wrap a gift in tie-dyed newspaper, and bungee cord your car mirror back on. Whatever works.

15. They stop 401(k) contributions.

You’ll get back to contributing to your retirement soon. But first, you’re going to put everything you’ve got toward getting out of debt. (Yes, even if it means missing out on your company match temporarily.) This is a great motivator to get out of debt ASAP.

Related: Learn how you can retire inspired regardless of where you are on your financial journey.

16. They pray.

Work like it all depends on you, but pray like it all depends on God. Give it your absolute all every day, but realize that God owns it all. He’s in control. So trust Him.

Making the decision to eliminate debt from your life is one of the smartest things you can do for yourself and your family. When it gets difficult and you doubt yourself, stay the course and find encouragement by reading and listening to others who have been where you are today. Your debt-free scream is closer than you think!

When it gets difficult and you doubt yourself, stay the course and find encouragement.

You CAN kick debt out of your life once and for all! Take your first step to being free from debt by learning more about Financial Peace University.

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