Did I just "should" you?
Yes, you should definitely start getting out of debt, ASAP. And yes, I just "should-ed" you. I know, I know, "you shouldn't should people, should you?"
That sentiment often comes to mind from an old psych professor in college. I think he really meant it as advice, even though he always posed it as a question.
But as the years have passed, I've had to ask myself the question, "is it actually true? Should we not "should" people, ever?"
In all my years of doing financial coaching and contrary to my dear old professor, I've found that it's okay (and even sometimes prescribed) to "should" people especially if you're helping them to do something that's genuinely good for them, like get out of debt.
So again, you should start getting out of debt.
If you're reading this, then you might be part of the 80% of Americans who are carrying debt (according to a survey of 1000 respondents conducted by Comet) and/or the 78% that live paycheck to paycheck. I'm here to help convince you that you "should" really start thinking about getting that debt out of your life for good.
And, just so you don't think I'm sitting in some ivory tower raining down judgment on people with debt, I was actually part of the 80% statistic up until a few years ago. I remember what it feels like... acutely. I also know how awesome it feels to now be debt free and I want so badly for you to have the freedom I now have.
So, I guess you could say I'm here to "should" you out of debt if only because it's so awesome on the other side. :)
This isn't an exhaustive list. It's just a list I've seen come into play through talking with hundreds of people over the past decade and have found to be helpful for them (and for you) to reframe the "debt argument" that we seem to be losing every day in our culture.
Think about that for a minute. How much are you you paying monthly for the interest on your current debts.?
Think about the percentage rate on each of your debts and take some time to add that up.
What if you were able to divert that money from paying off debt into a savings and/or investment account where the interest being accrued was going to you instead of to a bank or finance company? How cool would that be?
As I came to realize in my own journey to get out of debt, part of the process is learning to get rid of the current cozy relationship we have with our debt.
It's so easy to wander into and pretty comfortable to have around. We want you to start to see it for what it really is, a thief and a criminal that needs to be ejected from your life.
Being out of debt takes at least one emergency out of the equation (the money one).
Understatement of the century, right?
We all know how random life can be, and I want for you to be more prepared for the potential twists and turns by eliminating your debt as a factor in that unpredictability.
Case in point, when you're in debt and there's an emergency, it's actually two emergencies; 1) the primary emergency and 2) how your debt/financial situation dictates your response to it.
For example, if you have a transmission blowout and no cash, your situation dictates that, unless you don't need the car, you'll have to "throw" that emergency on a credit card (provided that your card(s) aren't maxed out).
So, it's a physical emergency (the transmission) and a financial emergency (adding more to your debt). That's double the stress, right?
On the contrary, when you've eliminated the debt and have a full emergency fund, you just pay for the transmission. That's one emergency instead of two. Soo much better.
So by being out of debt, you're really cutting the unpredictability of an emergency by 50%, allowing yourself to deal the the actual emergency (typically) without having to worry about what it's going to add to your debt.
So, the unexpected could be anything life decides to throw at you. On the negative side it could be the loss of a job, a disability, the loss of a life or an economic catastrophe like what happened in 2008.
On the positive side, it could be an opportunity that requires you to have some capital to invest (more on that in the next point).
Either way, I want for you to be prepared and it's soo much easier to be prepared when you're not carrying debt.
There's a saying in the investment world, "opportunities are like buses, there's always another one coming." But you can't get on any bus if you have a giant sack of debt on your back. Right?
Now, it's important to say here that, even when you're completely out of debt, investing is a whole other learning process.
Although the skills you're learning to eliminate debt are applicable and will give you insights into investing that you've probably not had in the past, it's important to note that the investing skillset is also an acquired one just like debt elimination.
Without going into a ton of detail about all of the different investment vehicles and their merits, suffice it to say that I want you to get to a point where you can really spend time learning about all of those merits and allocating a portion of your net worth to them.
This will be a much more productive use of your time than than the worry and uncertainty you're probably experiencing dealing with your current debt situation.
What will your internal dialogue with your boss be like when you can add, "because I have no payments"?
I'm experiencing this one right now and I'll tell you how awesome it is. I currently work a corporate sales job for a pretty good company, overall.
But as with all of these types of opportunities, it has it's warts and the warts seem to be growing in size and in magnitude quite rapidly over the past couple of quarters in particular.
My boss is feeling the pinch from his superiors and has the tendency to allow a lot of it to "roll down hill" so to speak.
In other words, even though I'm well above my sales quota for the year and, in many ways completely above reproach, I still have to endure a lot of the anxiety of his problems as they "roll" my way.
I recently was able to pull him aside and diplomatically share some of my concerns about this increasingly caustic environment and how I felt like it was unnecessarily affecting my psychology and therefore my sales performance in some subtle and some not so subtle ways.
I was able to, in a non-threatening and diplomatic way, remind him that "I'm here by choice and not by compulsion".
No payments, equals margin to make more decisions based on what you actually want to do rather than what you must.
You see the difference is that, some of my colleagues have 'payments', so they have to walk on eggshells in many regards.
They can't afford to challenge attitudes, behaviors and policies when they really need to be challenged.
They necessarily operate in fear of that paycheck being yanked away because that would create uncertainty in the maintenance of their debt.
I don't intend for this to sound arrogant or boastful, but the truth is that I don't have any payments. So for me, the conversation is a very different altogether.
I don't have to operate in fear because I don't owe anyone any money.
Don't get me wrong, I like my job, my boss, my company and my clients, but not enough to endure what I see as being an increasingly volatile and unhealthy environment in our sales organization.
The awesome thing is that I can politely and somewhat dispassionately remind my boss that I'm there by choice, that I don't have any payments and that there are many other opportunities that would welcome my elevated level of performance.
Again, I don't say any of this out of arrogance, rather I say it as a point of fact and of financial peace and one that I so want for you to have as well.
So yes, being debt free totally changes the conversation with your boss. I HIGHLY recommend it!
Either way, you're a day closer to it if you start now than if you don't.
So often I hear people say that they'll "never" get out of debt. "I'll always" have a car note, a mortgage or student loans", they say.
Interestingly, their resignation usually has to do with the fact that they don't actually know how much debt they have.
Rather than face the terror (and yes, it can be terrifying) of calculating "the number", they've just thrown up their hands up.
They've acquiesced to the conventional wisdom about debt (i.e. "I'll always have it").
Clients that sit down with us, write out their budget, make a list of their debts from smallest to largest and start looking at their income and how it's allocated.
They're actually surprised that it might not take as long as they think.
Sure, it is normally a year or two or sometimes even more, but that's WAY better than the "fuzzy decade-ish" period of time they might have been holding onto in their imagination.
So, if you're "not sure" what your debt number is, I encourage you to bite the bullet, sit down and just add it up. From there you can roughly calculate how long it will take you.
And, if you get on the "8 Steps To Erase Debt" plan, it will likely take you less time due to the extreme amount of momentum you'll build.
Whether it takes 6 months or 5 years, it's a great thing to be out of debt!
Can you just imagine what it would be like to have no debt?
I don't know exactly where you are in this process. And I don't know how long it's going to take you to get out of debt. What I do know is that once you're there, it's just amazing.
I remember the day I paid off the final portion of my $43,000 in consumer debt like it was yesterday.
Next to marrying my wife, it was the happiest day of my life. Everything I had to go through to get there was totally worth it.
For a glimpse, go to Dave Ramsey's YouTube channel and search for "debt free scream".
There are countless videos documenting the journeys of so many that have crossed the debt freedom threshold.
The whole reason we do what we do is to help you to be counted among our number.
So, come on over, the view is amazing!
Now, let's talk about getting you plugged into an incredible (free) system that will get you across the finish line.
0. Stop All Retirement Investing (Until Step 4)2. Starter Emergency Fund of $10003. Eliminate Debts Smallest To Largest (a.k.a The Debt Snowball)4. Full Emergency Fund of 3-6+ Months’ Expenses5. Invest A Minimum of 15% Income Into Retirement Accounts (and increase savings rate to 50%+ if possible)6. College Funding (if applicable)7. Pay Off The Home Mortgage8. Build Wealth, Serve, Be Ridiculously Generous And Go FI (Financial Independence)!