June 26, 2015
This article is for all my financial failures out there. Now before you get offended, let me explain: You’ve plotted out an unbreakable, infallible, fool-proof debt freedom plan just to get sidetracked on week two. The runaway train that was once your debt free snowball melted and fizzled halfway through your journey. Or maybe you are a tried and tested financial guru who did everything right for years, just to be hit with the unexpected. You are not alone. I too am human and more than once dragged my debt-free plan into such a state of disrepair that I gave up on the journey all together.
In my stress, disappointment, and shame, I quickly turned what had the potential to be a temporary setback into a permanent failure that threatened to lead me into a lifetime of persistent debt. It wasn’t until I heard the story of a mother whose Christmas spending added $4,000 to her debt in the midst of her debt free journey that I dusted myself off and started again. Here are the top three things I learned:
Lesson One: Mistakes happen. This applies with any aspect of life, but is especially true when it comes to something as personal as finances. You are making a significant lifestyle change that bucks against cultural norms with life altering implications. To expect to accomplish this feat without slip up is asinine.
Lesson Two: You are never too “experienced” to mess up. This one really got me. I had already moved to a cheaper apartment, cut my expenses to the bone, and bragged all over Facebook about my multi-sheet 5-year budget. How was I going to explain to all my followers (and of course, haters) that #DebtFree2015 was no longer my reality?
Lesson Three: You only fail if you give up. Pretty straightforward, right? For me, an unexpected trip led to a shopping spree, which made it easier to justify eating out more. Each expense paved the way for the next until I had resolved to live a life of debt servitude like the rest of America. This mother’s story gave me the courage to hit the reset button and restart my debt free journey where I had fallen.
I am not a perfectionist or coupon-clipping champion. My journey is littered with mistakes and even come to a complete halt once or twice. However, I will be debt free in three months because I no longer approach these mistakes as failures, but rather as necessary and expected realities that beg to be overcome.
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