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Blogging for Change Blogging For Change
by sitecore\jhorton on October 03, 2012

Cut spending

There are so many ways to get into debt. I know that. You know that. We all know that.

But did you know there's only one way to ensure you remain debt free?

That’s right, there’s one single, solitary way to ensure you remain free of debt for the rest of your life.

Your initial reaction to that statement may be similar to what mine was. It was something like “But that’s so unfair!”

But as I thought about this further, I realized that maybe it’s not so unfair after all. If there’s only one way way to be debt free, that takes out the mental anguish that comes along with the process of having to make a big decision. Even a small decision can be mentally exhausting!

In fact, it's reported that the more options you’re offered, the less likely you are to make a decision at all. Inaction is ALWAYS easier than action – so that added layer of the action involved in making a decision would actually make it much more difficult to take action against debt.

While that concept is certainly intriguing, you're probably wondering about this top-secret formula for staying debt free. Well, it’s simple … and it’s not so simple. You see, the single, solitary way to remain debt free is to (drumrolll, please) — live within your means.

It sounds easy, right? Well, let's not kid ourselves. Living within — and especially below – your means can be downright hard. If it were easy, then no one would be in debt!

I liken it to the fool-proof secret for losing weight. You know the one. It usually sounds something like this: “Losing weight is simple; just eat fewer calories than you burn in a day.”

And of course I always want to respond with: “Well golly! Why didn’t I think of that?” with an eye-roll added for good measure, of course.

The thing  is, it's not the statement itself that bothers me. Rather, it’s the way it’s delivered. Or perhaps it’s the way I perceive it. As though the person is saying, “Duh, this is the easiest thing in the world to do.”

But it's NOT easy. And neither is living within your means. It takes willpower, determination and the self-assuredness to know that you can do it because you are better than debt.

And while roadblocks will get in your way, and you may even be de-railed a few time, and that's OK. Just don’t let it deter you. Because YOU are stronger than that. So don't ever sell yourself short!

And if you ever need a little reminder of just how awesome you are – I’m here to give it to you! (Seriously! Just leave a comment below.) Because if you’ve pledged to live within your means, and you refuse to let debt keep you down, then you’ve already taken a giant leap forward – and that deserves to be commended!

And remember, if you need some guidance and tips for ways to create a budget, save more money, improve your credit score, or pay down existing debt, we have tools to help you do all of that and more in our Financial Education section.

(And if there’s information you’d like to see that’s not there, let me know by commenting below!)

Comment(s)

Becca says:
October 08, 2012

I wish it were so easy. I had been doing very well a year ago. I had Money in savings, planning a cruise vacation with my boyfriend when Bam! Car trouble. My money in savings paid for half of my car expenses & I had to open a line of credit to pay for the rest. Since then, it seems every time I go in for an oil change they tell me something else is wrong with my car and of course, I pay for the repairs (2 new tires, new shocks, new break pads) with my credit card. They tell me I still need a new drip pan gasket which I haven't done because I don't want to spend any more on that credit card which after 6 months has jumped from 0% interest to 26% interest. I just picked up a 2nd job waiting tables to help me financially, but if you have any suggestions, words of wisdom, I am begging for someone to bring me some hope!



Daniel says:
October 04, 2012

lost my job,plant closed,in school now.but things are not looking that good for me right now,just got hope now.



Deb J says:
October 08, 2012

I'm impressed you commented on my post and I thank you. I'm am PROUD, but remain humble, because this road was not easy. Life changes can throw you into the "broke" state, like it did, me. Became a single parent due to death, was faced with my daughter illness and no insurance, and I took each challenge with determination. Sometimes you can do what you never thought you could. I became a adjunct professor to pay for my daughters COBRA, and how I'm a photographer (This is one top of my day-time job as an IT Professional), for extra money. Who would ever think that those lemons could be turned into such sweet lemon aid! For you reading this, make sure you always empower yourself thru books, education, TV, and please surround yourself with others that no more than yourself! You want to soar with eagles! And please pay it forward by sharing with those "worthy". Not everyone is going to "worthy", or happy you have pulled yourself up by hardwork, and saying no becasue you can't afford what they are doing.



Deb J says:
October 08, 2012

I'm impressed you commented on my post and I thank you. I'm am proud of myself, but remain humble, because this road was not easy. Life changes can throw you into the "broke" state, like it did, me. Became a single parent due to death, was faced with my daughter illness and no insurance, and I took each challenge with determination. Sometimes you can do what you never thought you could. I became a adjunct professor to pay for my daughters COBRA, and how I'm a photographer (This is one top of my day-time job as an IT Professional), for extra money. Who would ever think that those lemons could be turned into such sweet lemon aid! For you reading this, make sure you always empower yourself thru books, education, TV, and please surround yourself with others that no more than yourself! You want to soar with eagles! And please pay it forward by sharing with those "worthy". Not everyone is going to "worthy", or happy you have pulled yourself up by hardwork, and saying no becasue you can't afford what they are doing.



Deb J says:
October 08, 2012

I'm like Roxanne R. Planning and extreme patience have allow me to become debt free. Next year I will be done with one small personal loan and my car note which will give me $900 to save and use some for paying off my mortage and parent loan. I just refinanced my mortgage 2.85% and waiting to close. That's a big savings! so for me, I don't have as much fun as I'd like but I only buy spend what I can afford and plan..plan...plan...Bringng lunch and breakfast to work, eating out only when planned, buying things on sale instead of waiting to purchase a gift, and if I can't give the gift I want, I give what in my budget and am proud! I search the racks for sales on clothes FIRST and it's amazing how much one can save if they put their mind to it. I give myself an allowance every pay period and THAT's it! Sometimes I even have money left over, because I don't spend over. It took me years to get to this point, but I feel so empowered. Saying no others and yourself is actually empowering.



Deb J says:
October 08, 2012

Forgot to add my email!



Jessica @ MMI says:
October 04, 2012

Kellie - that is amazing! First of all, congratulations! That is an absolutely incredible feat. And your story is such a perfect illustration of how difficult and challenging it can be, but ultimately how rewarding it is when you finally reach the end of the tunnel. And to go along with what you emphasized, I have found that the more difficult something is to overcome, the more rewarding it is when you finally accomplish it. So thank you for sharing such an inspiring story! You are awesome!



Jessica @ MMI says:
October 08, 2012

Daniel - I'm so sorry to hear about that! Losing a job is SO difficult. Especially when you're in school! If you haven't already, I would encourage you to contact a counselor here at MMI (you can someone contact you by filling out this short form [ https://www.moneymanagement.org/Utility/Online-Counseling-Form.aspx ] or you can just give us a call at 866.530.9869) We would be more than happy to talk with you further and figure out a plan that would work best for your situation. I wish you the best of luck -- and I'm glad you're able to keep your head up and hold out hope! If there's one thing I've learned, it's that you should never give up hope. Even when it doesn't seem possible. So I admire you for that!



Jessica @ MMI says:
October 08, 2012

Deb - I smiled just reading that! That is phenomenal! Isn't it incredible how empowering the word "no" can really be?? Especially when you know it's in your best interest! There's no better feeling than being in complete control of your finances -- and I'm so glad you are experiencing that. And you should absolutely be proud of your awesome self!



Jessica @ MMI says:
October 08, 2012

Becca - Oh, I can definitely feel for your situation! When everything seems to be going well, it's always car problems that pop up and decide to obliterate your plans (and budget!). Have you considered taking your car to a different repair shop for a second opinion? Sometimes you may find that a suggested repair isn't one that's necessary immediately. Of course this isn't always the case, and you definitely want to put your safety first! But it sounds like you've already done a great job of creating a budget and savings plan in the past, so it may just be a matter of re-visiting your budget and looking at the areas where you can feasibly cut back. I know it's tough, especially with such brutal interest rates. I really commend you for being responsible and taking the initiative to get a second job to help with your finances! That's extremely admirable -- and that tells me that you've got a great head on your shoulders and you'll undoubtedly get through this! I would also suggest calling your creditor directly and asking if they would be willing to lower your interest rate. It certainly can't hurt to ask! If you feel like want some more guidance one-on-one, I would strongly suggest contacting a counselor here at MMI. (You can fill out a form online or give us a call at 866.530.9869.) I suggest this mainly because of the fact that oftentimes, for people who qualify for a Debt Management Plan, we are able to get you a lower interest rate and monthly payment, which would help you pay off your debt even faster! And even if you opt to do it on your own, a counselor can work with you to create a customized budget specifically based on your situation. So it definitely couldn't hurt to reach out and see what your options are! Just don't lose hope! Look at all of the things you've already accomplished! I have no doubt that you'll soon be planning an even BETTER vacation -- with the added feeling of accomplishment that you were able to overcome your setbacks!



Jessica @ MMI says:
October 08, 2012

Tiffany - I love what you said about coming to the realization that you don't need "stuff". Simply getting to that point where you were able to shift your mindset to one of empowerment is so huge! I know from personal experience that it's really hard to acknowledge that your "stuff" is literally just stuff. Because it sure can feel that way! The fact that you were able to gain a new perspective and take so many giant leaps forward leaves no doubt in my mind that you will be free of debt and stress before you know it. You have already proven that you're strong AND courageous -- and I hope you realize how awesome that is! And please feel free to reach out to anyone here at MMI if you ever need anything. Even if it's just encouragement!



Jessica @ MMI says:
October 08, 2012

Roxanne - you are absolutely right! Planning and patience are key! Congratulations on the incredible strides you've made so far! It sounds like you've got both the planning and the patience to have a VERY successful, debt-free life!! And that's awesome!



Kate says:
January 12, 2013

It's inspiring reading everyone's successes. I also had a lot of credit card debt, and have only one more payment on my debt management plan after 3 years and I'm so excited about that. However, I still have an enormous amount of student loans in forbearance that I don't know how to tackle... I'm talking nearly $200,000! How am I ever going to save and invest and pay this off??



Kellie Wesley says:
October 04, 2012

Wow...this is so true. It has been a painful lesson to learn. We have lost income, jobs and taken pay cuts and found ourselves about 60K in debt...but with MMI we are within one year of being debt free (with the exception of our mortgage) and it feels GREAT! It has not been easy...and while a lot of our friends are going on trips and spending $$ on shopping, dinners out, gifts...we are being very conservative and having staycations, limiting holidays and birthdays to a small amount that we budgeted for and having potlucks when friends come over. It's hard...but so worth it! Thanks! Kellie



Roxanne R says:
October 04, 2012

I pledge to never have another credit card again. If I can’t buy it with cash, I don’t buy it. Period. I’m also one year away from being debt free (also w/ the exception of my very affordable mortgage and a manageable student loan payment), and I will be taking that extra $500 a month that will be freed up, and I will be INVESTING it. It’s time to make my money work for me! Set a few mutual funds outside of your retirement account; contribute to them regularly and let them grow! These can be used for future car purchases and major vacations. There are smart ways to avoid debt for the things you want to do and buy. It only takes planning and patience.



Roxanne R says:
October 04, 2012

I pledge to never have another credit card again. If I can’t buy it with cash, I don’t buy it. Period. I’m also one year away from being debt free (also w/ the exception of my very affordable mortgage and a manageable student loan payment), and I will be taking that extra $500 a month that will be freed up, and I will be INVESTING it. It’s time to make my money work for me! Set a few mutual funds outside of your retirement account; contribute to them regularly and let them grow! These can be used for future car purchases and major vacations. There are smart ways to avoid debt for the things you want to do and buy. It only takes planning and patience.



Tiffany says:
October 04, 2012

I am learning this lesson now. It's amazing how quickly I pulled out the credit card for any little whim of a thing I wanted. I think it has to do with growing up poor. My mom forced us to live within our means and when I got my first credit card, I thought: "NOW i am going to get whatever I want." Well, thousands of dollars in credit card debt later... I am realizing that I don't need (and never needed) all that "stuff." I just enrolled with MMI and I am hoping that the help you offer, combined with my new budgeting and self-control skills, will help me get to a stress and debt-free life before I am too old to enjoy it!



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