Stop using debt excuses to rationalize your debt and why you’re not making debt your #1 financial priority. Two commonly used debt excuses are used over and over again to justify staying in debt. Debt is normal nowadays. The average American is in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and owes an average of $8,398 in credit card debt, according to debt.org. After paying off $72,000 of debt and living with debt for decades, I’m somewhat of an expert at using each of these debt excuses. Here are the top two commonly used debt excuses. Don’t worry if you relate to them. I’ll walk you through how to eliminate these excuses, break your debt mindset, and how to start getting rid of debt for good.
Carrying debt is a burden, plain and simple. Apart from your house, pay everything with cash. Happily paying the minimum and choosing not to pay off your debt ignores the dangers of debt including:
- Debt is stressful. It can affect your sleep cycle and your health.
- You’ll pay more in the long run.
- Debt steals from your present and future income for items or services you bought in the past.
- Using debt encourages you to spend more than you can afford.
- Debt causes marital problems. Financial problems are a common reason why couples divorce.
- Debt holds you back from pursuing better jobs or changing careers.
2 Common Debt Excuses People Use to Stay in Debt
Not making enough money is the #1 excuse. Do you catch yourself making up reasons why you can’t pay off your debt while others can? Answer honestly, have you ever said these secretly to yourself?
- I’m barely making it each month. There’s nothing left at the end of the month to pay more towards debt.
- I’ll pay off my debt when I get that next promotion or switch careers.
- They can pay off debt since they have a better job than me.
- I have more kids to raise. They can pay off debt faster since they have less kids.
- My spouse isn’t making as much as theirs. Of course, they can afford to pay off all of their debt.
- I don’t have rich parents. Their parents must be helping them out.
- They must have hit the lottery.
- I live in an expensive area. Everything costs more here.
Do any of these sound familiar? All of these statements have an underlying theme. You believe that you don’t generate enough income to pay off debt. It’s a typical debt excuse. And to be honest with you, I used this same exact debt excuse for years. It’s easier to assume that you don’t make enough money instead of living on a budget, spending less than you make, and paying attention to your finances.
I always thought my finances would improve with each promotion or when I changed careers. Trying to pay off debt was always an afterthought that I thought was impossible until I made more money. But truthfully, it didn’t matter how much money I made. When I made more, I spent more.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’ll be more responsible with money just because you’re making more. It’s actually the opposite. If you don’t change your debt mindset, you may find yourself in more debt, buying more expensive things that you can’t afford.
Stop believing this normal misconception that you need to make more money to pay off your debt. Listen to a few debt-free screams on the Dave Ramsey Show. You’ll quickly realize that it doesn’t matter how much money you make. I listened to several families who were able to pay off more debt than me. It was motivating to hear how they were able to pay off so much debt making less income with more kids and financial responsibilities than me. My sorry excuse that I didn’t make enough money was shattered.
To be honest with you, what matters most is your commitment, perseverance, and the willingness to do whatever it takes to pay off debt. When I first sat down and planned out my debt snowball payoff plan, the pay-off date was so far out in the future. According to what I was making at the time, it would have taken 4 years to pay it all off.
It was soul-crushing. I couldn’t believe that it would take so long, but nevertheless, I pushed past the disappointment and just started.
And you know what? It took only two and a half years to pay off $72,000 of debt (school loans, a car loan, a credit card, and even my cemetery plot). You know why? It wasn’t magic or luck. It was pure hard work and sweat. When I finally stopped making excuses, I started taking action which in turn, improved my finances.
I saved more and increased my income at the same time. Items that I once thought were necessities seemed frivolous and were cut out of the budget. I found ways to cost costs on practically everything that I was able to. I pushed myself at work and landed promotions that I probably wouldn’t have considered if I didn’t have a burning desire to get out of debt faster. Every pay increase went straight to the debt. Instead of spending more this time, I used the money to pay off debt.
So, in simplest terms, lose the excuse and start taking action now. If you have a will, there is a way. You just need to ditch the excuse that you’re broke and need to make more money. When you realize that it doesn’t matter how much you make, you’ll find ways to get out of debt faster.
And you know what? I don’t have any regrets! Making the decision to pay off debt has opened up so many more opportunities, not just financial ones either. Here’s a great blog post on the Benefits of Being Debt-Free.
Here’s another typical excuse, and it’s the same exact excuse I used for years. It’s also one of the more dangerous ones too. You’re putting yourself at risk unnecessarily. Most likely, you have enough discretionary income to make some real progress to pay off your debt. You just choose not to.
You see, the fact of the matter is, you’re playing with fire. You’re ignoring life’s twist and turns. Anything can happen. You or your spouse can lose their job, a crazy pandemic like COVID-19 might hit, or a family member can become seriously ill. Would you have the same feelings towards debt if you knew that you or your spouse’s job was in jeopardy?
Don’t back yourself into a corner unknowingly. Get rid of the debt now instead of being faced with a pile of bills when someone loses a job like my situation when my hubby lost his job. Paying off debt was not high on my priority list before that day. I thought we were in stable, secure jobs, so like your average person, I happily paid the minimum, paying high-interest rates, thinking I could pay it off later.
When I found out that I would be the sole provider, I got the biggest wake-up call ever. For years, I was teetering off the edge of a debt cliff without even realizing that I was on a cliff to begin with. Don’t let this happen to you. Pay off your debt now and lose that financial liability and stress forever.
Stop thinking that debt is normal. Paying the minimum payments is not okay. Just because you pay your bills on time and have a secure job doesn’t mean that you’re financially secure. You might be living beyond your means and charging purchases that you can’t afford. If you have enough money to pay off your debt or you can pay more than the minimum, what are you waiting for? You’re paying more in interest than you should be. Why are you putting yourself and your family at risk unnecessarily? How would you feel if you lost your job tomorrow? You’ll regret that you didn’t make debt a priority when you had the money to pay it off.
What this worldwide COVID pandemic has taught us is that nothing is predictable. Millions of Americans have been infected, have lost jobs or have been affected in some way economically. Dealing with the stress of COVID is hard enough without adding the extra pressure of figuring out how you’ll pay for car loans, credit card bills, or other loans and lines of credit. If you’re in this situation, it’s not too late. Make the commitment to become debt-free, and start making your finances a priority.
Commit to paying off your debt instead of letting it linger around for years or even decades.
Action Plan for Debt Excuses:
- Change your attitude about debt and take action. Debt is not your friend.
- Commit to paying off debt. Learn more about debt-free living here, by clicking here.
- Stop accumulating more debt. Start paying cash for all of your purchases.
- Start creating a zero-based monthly budget, and stick to it.
- Stop paying the minimum payment. Figure out how much money you can pay extra towards your debt and create a debt payoff plan using the debt snowball or debt avalanche method.
- Cut out luxury items and throw the money at your debt instead. Check out this blog on how you can save on beauty and makeup products.
- Find creative ways to save money. Check out this post Things I Stopped Buying to Pay Down Debt.
- Get a second job or seek out ways to make more money at your current job.
- Improve your skills at work so you’re ready when there’s a promotional opportunity.
- Sell big ticket items or items you’re no longer using. We sold two cars to get out of debt. Read more about it in this post on some of the crazy things I did to pay off my debt.
- Use any extra income or savings to pay down debt. If I lowered my water bill by $5 a month, I increased our debt payment by that amount. It may not seem like it’s making that much of a difference, but it all adds up in the end. Think of it this way, you’re learning how to make your debt pay-off plan the number one priority. Small habits lead to greater results later. When you save a large chunk of cash or land a higher paying job, you won’t hesitate to use it towards paying off debt instead of increasing your lifestyle.
- Make it a habit to save each month, instead of swiping your credit card when something unexpected pops up.
- Save at least $1,000 in an emergency fund.
- Save up for big-ticket purchases instead of using loans to finance them.
- Always save for future known expenses like Christmas, car registration/repairs, or birthdays.
- Live below your means. Don’t spend more than you make.
- Stop telling yourself, “I deserve it.”
- Be content with the things you already own.
Read an in-depth article on the best tips to get out of debt.
Final Thoughts on How to Stop Using Debt Excuses to Stay in Debt
Rationalizing why you need to stay in debt only hurts you in the end. The top 2 most common debt excuses have serious consequences and risks. When you think you’re broke and can’t pay more towards debt, you’ve already lost the battle. Instead, figure out how to cut expenses and make more money. Get off the never-ending hamster wheel of debt. On the flip side, when you pay the minimum and don’t see the urgency of paying it off, you’re taking unnecessary financial risks. All you need is one big wake-up call to convince you that hanging onto debt is not a good financial plan. So, stop using these debt excuses today and make the commitment, once and for all, to pay off your debt. It worked for me, and will work for you too!
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