Ouch!  This season of joy is seriously crimping my wallet!  It’s okay.  I expected it and because becoming free of debt is so important to me, I am working to stay focused on gratitude for what I have, not on what I want.  As one blogger recently posted, consumerism has a negative effect not just on your level of gratitude, but also on how much joy is in your life.  I for one, wish to retain some of the season’s joy into the new year and I have a plan.  Here are the steps that are helping me through the shopping season.

  • Make a plan, and keep to it. Debt freedom is an attainable goal, even if it takes a little time to achieve.  But, the only way to get there is to make, and stick to a realistic plan that allows for real life things that pop up.  For example: needing to replace a broken oven is art of real life.  Buying a new truck because your spouse wants one is not…unless it is in the plan.  If it is in the plan, remember that achieving freedom from debt will take a lot longer to achieve if big ticket items need to be the plan, so have patience.  Make your plan by making a spread sheet, or list of all of your monthly obligations and how much you can pay each month.  List your take home pay and see if it covers the minimum.  If there is any extra, try to save it until you have enough for negotiated account settlements or full balance payoffs.
  • Forgive the small stuff, but get back on track.   If you make a mistake, don’t let it discourage you from the plan. I love Nelson Mandela’s quote: “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” And Henry Ford’s “failure is simply opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”   If you blow the budget, pause, review the plan and go back to work at how to arrive at the finish line.  You can figure out how to whittle down the accounts until you are debt free, but you need to stop buying out of your income range.
  • Communicate.  Make sure your household is on board with the plan.  If your child or children are old enough to understand, include them in the plan to be debt free.  Absolutely include your spouse.  It’s not fair to be mad at their spending if you never discussed spending control with them.  Next, talk to your close friends about how you are achieving debt freedom, and which activities you are avoiding for a while.  Maybe your friends will welcome the change because they want the same freedom.  Having the support of your peers can help keep you on track. 
  • Get Help.  Sometimes the debt is too much.  It causes stress, tension, and loss of sleep.  When you can’t find your way out of the debt, when you don’t know how to analyze the accounts for paying off and closing out, talk to a professional.  Visit DebtFreedomPros.com to find a debt counselor in your area who can guide you to the plan, and who doesn’t get paid until you reduce your debt without surprises.