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Debt Reduction and Elimination – Introduction

Debt ReductionAs many of you know, I recently bought Wise Dollar from Jose, who started the blog originally. As I was looking to buy the site one of the things I did was go through the existing posts to see what needed a little more love and light of day. That is where I discovered this post on debt reduction and overall killing of debt.

Seeing as I have my own personal experience dealing with debt I saw a good opportunity to go through and give it some healthy revisions. :-) This will also be a part of a small series on debt reduction tips and strategies to implement as you seek to pay off your debt.

Debt is Enslaving

Remembering back to my personal debt payoff experience there was one palpable, recurring feeling I experienced …that I was a slave to my debt. I had made the incredibly poor choice of financing my wants and desires with credit cards. This is not to say that credit cards are evil, per se, as they can be a good tool to have in your financial toolbox, but I was using them because I was not content with what I had. The ending result was nearly $25,000 in credit card debt.

Going back to the slave analogy, it meant that I was obligated to the credit card companies. As a result of my poor choices, I now owed them a significant amount of money and received little to no value out of it. True, I had the things I bought, but that was largely crap. If the money I owed was due to a mortgage, I could understand the value of that, but this was not the case. Instead, I was beholden to the card companies for thousands of dollars of interest that I owed for my poor choices. This is not meant to shift blame, or complain by any means, as I take full responsibility for my choices, but to point out that when you’re in debt you’re enslaved to whomever you owe money to – like it or not.

Unfortunately I am definitely not alone in my debt journey as we have roughly $854 billion in credit card debt here in the States. That is a staggering number to look at and breaks down to the average family carrying credit card debt of just over $15,000. This is not including student loan debt or other consumer debt. The source of the debt aside, the sad fact is that when you’re in debt you’re obligated to someone else and part of your hard earned money belongs to someone else each month. This is why beginning to work on debt reduction and an overall killing of debt is so essential.

What is at the Core of Debt Reduction?

Over my debt reduction and payoff journey I learned a number of lessons that I still carry with me today. Chief among those lessons however was learning that reducing debt and killing it altogether means one thing – freedom. It is quite simple really, if being in debt enslaves you to lenders then reducing your debt completely would mean the exact opposite.

If you think about it, debt reduction means that you have more control over what you can do with your money. It means that you can have more money to save for retirement, save for college for your children, save to buy a house, etc. That control equates to freedom of choice to do what you darn well please with your money. That freedom is well worth the cost of pursuing debt reduction.

What is Needed in Order to Kill Debt?

I’ve spoken about this before on Frugal Rules, but the key to debt reduction and killing your debt all together comes down to one thing…attitude. This is not a “I want a puppy” kind of attitude, but an attitude of going after debt like a pit bull. Yes, doing things like cutting expenses and finding other ways to save money is great, but they will only take you so far.

At the end of the day you need to attack your debt so it can be killed once and for all. Personally speaking, it wasn’t until I adopted this attitude that I was successful at debt reduction. I’d start and stop only to end up in the same place – broke and in debt. I had to get into a mindset of making more money and killing the debt. This, of course, was done alongside my debt reduction plan, but this attitude was vital to becoming debt free.

If you’re struggling with your debt reduction plan or even getting started at paying off debt, then I encourage you to take a look at what your debt is costing you in terms of your future and things you want to accomplish and this should be a great way to give birth to the attitude that’s needed to begin killing your debt.

 

Are you currently working to pay off debt? What have you seen to help you with debt reduction? How long did it take you to get that attitude of wanting to kill your debt?

 

 

Photo courtesy of: StockMonkeys.com

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John Schmoll is a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. He's passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes so that they can live lives free from the shackles of debt and empowered to make their money work for them. You can check out his other sites: Frugal Rules, for ways to improve your financial literacy; and Sprout Wealth for tips on different ways to make more money. John has been featured on Forbes, Lifehacker, Yahoo Finance and US News & World Report and more. If you're wanting to grow your blog, check out my blog coaching services to see how I can help you take your site to the next level.

28 comments

  1. I love the comparison of going after debt like a pit bull! It’s true: I attack my student loans very aggressively. It’s the only way I see any principal go down!
    Natalie @ Financegirl recently posted…9 Reasons Why I Hate Credit CardsMy Profile

  2. I agree that debt is basically voluntary slavery. The only difference is, you do get to make some decisions on how you repay it and how fast. Other than that, you have to plan your life around your debt and debt payments. I’m glad that is behind us now.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…Guilty Pleasures: What’s Your Budget Buster?My Profile

  3. I would agree that debt is just something that weighs us down and keeps us stuck. I can’t wait until my student loans are finally behind us.
    Michelle recently posted…I Don’t Want to Be RichMy Profile

  4. Yes! Debt is enslaving and I want it gone! Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda… but now I’m dealing with it and it is going down! Gooda!
    debt debs recently posted…Debt DeliberationsMy Profile

  5. I never got into a bad debt problem, but whenever I ran up my credit cards and had higher balances then usual, it felt as though a vice was constricting my breathing and it was a miserable experience. And yet, no matter how much I hated that feeling, I would periodically get there. It finally took the passion you are talking about kicking in and when it did, the debt problems subsided. It really does take passion to reduce and eliminate debt.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Music Mondays – Father and DaughterMy Profile

  6. Tackling debt really does take dedication and attitude. It really doesn’t matter which method you use, as long as you commit yourself into paying it off your debt. I thought I was never going to be able to pay off my consumer debt, but that was before I really sat down and made the necessary changes.
    Aldo @ Million Dollar Ninja recently posted…Guest Post Today at CNA Finance – How Haggling Saved Me $1,200My Profile

  7. I find that paying it off as you can is the best thing. This way it seems less scary to people–especially if you have lots of debt to pay. Having a plan is also helpful as it will keep you accountable along the way.
    Debt and the Girl recently posted…Is Being Frugal the Path to Happiness?My Profile

  8. How did I not realize this was you on Wise Dollar. You need a less common name, like Horatio or Dudley or something. Sadly, seeing some relatives go through debt problems really inspired us to get rid of most of ours. I actually have a hard time with the mortgage at this point and want to attack it, but that’s not the best use of funds right now. Patient I’m not when it comes to debt.

  9. Hey John, great post. Debt is definitely voluntary slavery. I’m just happy I escaped the slave boats and never jumped on board with buying things I couldn’t afford.
    Joshua Rodriguez recently posted…How Haggling Saved Me $1,200!My Profile

  10. Attitude is pretty much the key to everything :)
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted…Save Money, Break Up Your Friends: The Cost of a Failed MarriageMy Profile

  11. I’m currently trying to “kill” $60,000 of student loan debt. At first when I really took a good hard look at my debt, it felt impossible, but now I hope to be out if this debt within 5 years. I’m throwing every extra dollar I can find at it. Plus I’m playing My Mountain of Debt app for iPhone. The little ant chips away at my debt whenever I make a payment.

  12. Love the Pitbull analogy, John, and it’s so true!!! Getting out of debt will definitely take longer if you’re not seriously committed to the long haul and to having that stick-with-it attitude.
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted…How to Keep Your Back Yard Chicken Eggs CleanMy Profile

  13. I am about to get crazy agressive with our debt. I’m still trying to figure out all the details (ie I need to get another freelance gig or figure some blog stuff out ASAP to help with my plan) but I’ve decided I want to try and pay off almost 24k worth of principle debt in the next 13 months. My kid and my family is my motivation. I want this gone so we can focus on other more important things (like possibly having a sibling for kiddo?).
    catherine recently posted…My Favorite Things To Buy at CostcoMy Profile

  14. I’ve found two things to be important when paying off debt: knowing why you are in debt to begin with and coming up with a plan to get out of debt.

    For me, I found myself in the cycle of paying down debt, just to have it spike again. This was because I never got to the root of the problem. I didn’t have a spending problem, I had a depression problem. Once I tackled that, I was able to get out of and stay out of debt.

    Furthermore, you need to find a plan that works for you. You could choose the smallest balance first method or the highest interest rate first method. It doesn’t matter in the end, as long as you get out of debt. That is the goal and what you should focus on.
    Jon @ Money Smart Guides recently posted…Benefits Of Paying Off DebtMy Profile

    • That’s a huge point Jon! I think determining the “why” behind your debt is vital to tackling the issue at hand as well as key to truly finding success. Along with that, you’re spot on that you need a plan that’ll work for you. What might work for me will be meaningless for you and vice versa.
      John Schmoll recently posted…Do You Make More Than a Stripper?My Profile

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