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Getting out of debt isn’t easy. It takes a lot of discipline and patience to stay focused on being able to eventually scream, "I’m debt-free!"
Along the way, you might hit a few bumps in the road. Maybe your motivation and willingness to continue paying off your debt snowball will get tested.
I want you to be prepared for those difficult times and fight back. To do that, you’ve got to know the warning signs that you’re getting off track with your debt snowball.
1. You skipped last month’s budget.
You’re busy and life happens. I get that. But if getting out of debt is important to you, then your monthly budget should be a top priority. If you’ve let one or two budgets slip, or if you haven’t been having a monthly sit-down to talk money with your spouse, that’s not a good sign. Your budget is your plan. So if you don’t have a budget, you don’t have a plan!
Related: Create your budget now with the super-simple EveryDollar budget tool.
2. You’re considering more debt.
You’re supposed to be getting out of debt, right? So if you’re kinda, sorta tempted to take the cashier up on that credit card offer, you probably need to take a deep breath and back . . . away . . . from . . . the . . . cashier . . . slowly. Don’t lose the momentum and progress you’ve worked so hard to gain. This is a topic I discuss in my upcoming book, Love Your Life Not Theirs: 7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want. Debt is a thief that will steal your joy. Don’t take on more!
3. The word "deserve" is a common part of your vocabulary.
You’ve come so far, paid off half of your $30,000 of debt . . . so don’t you deserve a week-long vacation in the Keys? I know it’s a bummer, but not yet. I’m not saying you can’t reward yourself along the way with a dinner out or a night away, but let’s be reasonable. You probably got into debt because of week-long vacations, so save that reward for when you’re finally debt-free!
4. Compromise doesn’t seem all that bad.
When you first started getting out of debt, you were fired up and super motivated. Your weekly food budget was close to $20! Not really, but you get the point—you didn’t cut corners, and you went all out on becoming debt-free. As the journey goes on, though, you might be tempted to let some of those old habits creep back in. You’ve almost paid off the car, so is there really anything wrong with trading it for a new one with a $400 payment? Yes! Don’t compromise your new value system on money. Stay strong!
5. Restaurant servers know your name.
It’s just so easy to eat out. Believe me, I know. But one sure sign your debt snowball is getting off track is when restaurant servers start to know your name. You’re probably eating out too much. And while it’s nice to go where everybody knows your name, you can’t sacrifice your money goals for the ease and convenience of eating out. Treat yourself on rare occasions. But, just like vacations, save the big date night for when you’ve crossed the debt-free finish line.
The great thing about becoming debt-free is that you can make it happen. Once you make that decision, it’s just a matter of going and doing it.
If you spot any of these flags throughout your journey, simply knock them back down and keep on moving. Debt-free is the best way to live, and you’ll be there before you know it!
Rachel Cruze is a seasoned communicator and number-one best-selling author, helping Americans learn the proper ways to handle money and stay out of debt. Her upcoming book Love Your Life, Not Theirs will release in October. You can follow Rachel on Twitter at @RachelCruze, online at rachelcruze.com, or at facebook.com/rachelramseycruze.
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