While it works great, there’s one still thing that the debt snowball method can’t do for you: cut through your excuses.
That’s up to you, because it’s a part of the get-out-of-debt process that involves changing your behavior.
In fact, like so many of us, you may have gotten so used to using excuses as a reason to borrow money that you don’t even realize they are excuses.
So the first step in making sure you cut through your excuses is recognizing them. The easiest way to do this is to look back on why you borrowed money in the first place. You may find yourself thinking things like this:
- Well, I had to get a new car because of our growing family
- I didn’t have any choice: I had to borrow that money to go to school
- That was only because my car broke down and needed new brakes
- It’s not our fault that we’re underwater on our house and can no longer afford our payments — the bottom just fell out of the housing market
- I lost my job and had to borrow money just to stay afloat.
But you know what? Those are all excuses.
In every case, there are alternatives. If you didn’t take one of the alternatives that led away from debt, you used an excuse to rationalize borrowing money.
If you’re sitting here mentally arguing with me about why you are the exception and you really didn’t have a choice, you still haven’t cut through your excuses.
Of course, it’s not your fault that the housing bubble burst, but you did buy a house with the expectation that it would go up in value, or with the idea that you’d never be able to afford a house if you didn’t buy one Right. Now — even though you couldn’t really afford it to begin with. Yes, even if you can no longer afford it because you lost your job. No one held a gun to your head and forced you to buy that house, to deplete your savings, or to spend instead of building up a very large emergency fund that would cover you in case of job loss.
I’m not trying to be harsh. Really.
I’m trying to say that once you cut through your excuses and recognize them for what they are, you’ll realize that you can control your financial life to a much, MUCH larger extent than you ever realized.
Cut through your excuses and reflect instead
Don’t beat yourself up for past choices — just recognize that they were choices, even if the alternatives were very unpleasant. Doing so will hep you realize that you can do things differently from here on out.
I have done plenty of stupid things myself that I rationalized away at the time as being a good idea. But I don’t have to keep on doing them, and realizing that they were my choice is what gives me the knowledge that I can make different choices next time.
I know you’re either already there, or getting close, because you’re already working on paying off debt. Just cut through any lingering excuses, and gain the rest of the control that’s within your grasp.