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The Most Frustrating Baby Step (and How to Get Through It)

Lily graduated from a four-year university with a degree in business—and  $37,000 in school loans.[1] She didn’t have any savings, so she used her credit card to pay the deposit on her new apartment. And she swiped it a few more times to buy some nice furniture and appliances. A few months later, she decided it was time to upgrade to a new car now that she was living in “the real world.”

But then the bills began rolling in. The grace period on her student loans ended. The 90 days “same as cash” promise from the furniture store came and went. Suddenly, at 23 years old, Lily realized she had more than $60,000 in debt. Something had to change or else she was going to drown.

It was time to buckle down and dump her debt once and for all.

Sound Familiar?

Maybe you can relate to Lily’s story. Maybe you’re a recent college graduate, a single parent, or quickly approaching retirement. No matter your life stage, paying off your consumer debt puts you knee-deep in the most frustrating of the Baby StepsBaby Step 2, where you pay off your debt using the debt snowball method.

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How fast can you pay off your debt? Find out with the Debt Snowball Calculator.

But there’s a huge difference between frustration and futility. Baby Step 2 is tough, but it can also be rewarding. For example, the debt snowball teaches you so much about yourself. You can become more disciplined and patient than you ever imagined, and you’ll realize you’re actually capable of saying no if it means sticking to your goals.

Yes, Baby Step 2 requires some sacrifices—especially if you’re not used to turning down vacations and fancy dinners. You’re working more hours than you thought you could ever handle. You’re eating rice and beans. You haven’t gone to the movies or stepped foot in a restaurant in months.

But you’re gazelle intense, so it’s easy at first. In fact, one of the great things about the debt snowball is that you see progress from the beginning. You’re paying off the smallest bills and winning left and right. You’re motivated! You’re on fire!

But what happens when the snowball starts to slow—and your motivation pauses with it?

This is when Baby Step 2 becomes harder than all the sacrifices and extra hours worked.

You’ve reached the point in your journey where you have to dig your heels in and say, “I’m in it for the long haul.”

It’s going to be tough, but look at what’s at stake if you quit now. You don’t want to give up! You’ll be settling for “normal” and a future where you’re a slave to money. Do you really want that?

Your Sacrifices Matter

When it gets hard, remember this: What you’re doing in Baby Step 2 matters. The decisions you’re making today are changing the landscape of your future. You’re rewriting your future—and the future of your children and their children, too. You’re transforming your family tree. You’re paving the way to leave a legacy.

As Lily got to work paying down her debt, she cut up her credit cards. She sold her new car and bought a reliable, used model. She got a roommate and cut her living expenses in half. She picked up a side job. And when the going got tough, she remained steadfast and refused to settle for normal.

It took just under two years to pay everything off, but when she was completely debt-free, she knew her future was going to look radically different. She felt the relief of getting to actually keep her paychecks. And she was incredibly proud of how far she had come—and what she had to show for all of her hard work.

If she can do it, so can you

One of the best ways to stay motivated and keep your gazelle intensity is to start a free trial of the Financial Peace Membership and take control of your finances! With your online membership, you get 24/7 access to Dave’s #1 proven plan to help you tackle the Baby Steps and create your best future!

Ramsey Solutions

About the author

Ramsey Solutions

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners.

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