A strategic plan to get out of debt
After the excitement of a newly married life, my husband and I combined whatever knowledge we had (or lack thereof) about money. We were both born outside of the US and grew up in different environments. Although I was taught some important financial principles growing up, my husband was a whole different story. Basically, we had to start anew together, which we gladly did by forgetting every last bit of advice we were ever given on the topic of money and deciding to make every financial mistake we possibly could.
I was born in a country other than USA and for as long as I remember my parents were my greatest role models in everything. I will always be grateful to them for teaching me correct principles early on by their own example. I can’t say that were rich or poor, but we did have everything we needed and wanted most of the time.
For as long as I can remember my father always ran a business, and now in my adult years I understand myself that a job (or working for someone else) can earn you a living, but it won’t earn you a life, at least not the life you really want. I mean, who dreams of a time when they are stuck in a 9-5 rat race that doesn’t bring any joy, away from family, sending your kids to be raised by someone else and hoping they do a good job, your spouse probably spending way too much time with other people, only to earn couple bucks to go out and blow them on the weekend. I certainly didn’t dream of that!
After I moved to the USA – the land of dreams and opportunities, I felt a little lost. All I was surrounded by was people going home to work, work to home, having little time left for anything else. I’ve met a few successful business men, but didn’t bother to inquire of their success in this new country I now called home. Besides, getting a job just seemed so much easier- no control over the outcome, no big responsibility. And then getting into debt also became very easy, because everyone else around me did just that.
Everyone financed cars, homes, boats, RVs, even as I came to find out later, furniture, appliances, computers and so on. What I saw people have and enjoy in this country in reality did not even belong to them, they did not own any of it, it was just an illusion. So they really had a bigger master in their lives that they had to serve continually to support their life styles. And that master is debt!
Debt can be a very powerful, unforgiving and a cruel master, one that no one should choose to serve willingly. However, it is happening all around us all the time. WHY? Why do people keep falling into the same trap?
Well, I believe it all starts from the financial education one receives at home (or absence of it). No, not the kind they teach you in schools either. It’s a whole different topic, but as I came to find out later after having children of my own that that’s the place brain washing to use financing and similar options begin. I mean, the schools ARE government institutions, right? They were not built to teach you the truth, but to prepare obedient work forces.
Of course, we thought we knew everything about budgeting, saving, paying cash for purchases, etc, but our actions indicated otherwise. I truly believe now that if you claim to KNOW something and you don’t practice it, you really DON’T KNOW it!
For example, if you’ve heard that you need to pay yourself first, but you don’t have at least 10% (or more) automatically coming out of your check every month into a separate savings account, you don’t know anything.
If you claim to know how bad credit cards can get once you finance something trivial and the interest starts accruing, and you still go out and buy that TV or a treadmill or whatever, you DON’T know squat.
If you’re still making monthly payments on that newly upgraded I-phone, I-watch, fridge or a couch, and still don’t know the real price of it, you don’t understand the power of compound interest and how it can ruin you in your sleep.
But using a credit card builds credit score, you say… In reality, a credit score is just a number that tells the banks how much money they can lend you and how much in interest they can earn off you over time. The bigger the number, the more potential debt you can get yourself into and become an asset for someone else (which means, you’ll be paying interest indefinitely unless you learn the correct principles). Don’t even get me started on financing cars and houses.
Have you ever bothered to read through the stack of paperwork it takes to buy either one and see how much in interest you would pay over the course of a 30 year mortgage or a 72-month car loan??? Does anyone know the price of the car anymore?
The ads on TV continuously invite us to pay nothing up front and X-amount per month… No wonder, you HAVE to go to a job or two or three! If you or a loved one gets sick, disabled, you lose your job or your hours get cut, you will truly find out who OWNS your stuff, because they will be coming for it. I know this, because I’ve lived through all of this. And I hope you can learn from my stupid mistakes and live a better life.
Sometimes I wish I had someone to teach me step by step of what to do and caution me on what not to do but I realized I was too prideful to listen to someone’s opinion, even when that someone had no benefit over me, had all the results to show for what they were teaching and had my best interest in mind.
I see so many people today who think they know it all, but have absolutely NO fruit on the tree. Think about this – if any of you were already financially free, job-optional and prosperous, you probably wouldn’t be searching for yet another “magic pill” solution to your money problems.
It would seem there is an abundance of financial education materials out there. So how do you make your pick? To tell you the truth, there is no one fast and simple method to get you out of debt and keep you that way. In order for you to become financially free long-term, you will have to embrace the reality of a continuous self-education.
For example, you already know that diets don’t really work. If you want to be healthy for life, you’d have to make it your lifestyle to eat right and exercise regularly.
Same with finances. It’s not a certain program that works better than others, it’s whether who teaches you has a result of his own through the use of that same information (you’ll be surprised to find out who pays some of the financial gurus you see on TV and that they don’t really achieve financial freedom by using the techniques they teach you), it’s how long you’ll stick with it, how motivated you are to do it daily that will make a difference in the end. You’ll have to open your mind to new things, new habits, new people. It is said that your mind is like a parachute, it only works if you open it!
In my financial research I’ve examined many programs and financial gurus, so allow me to save you some time. A lot of them teach very similar things, which I’m sure if you’ve used their advice before, it might have worked for your particular situation.
When my husband and I hit rock bottom with our debt (that also affected our marriage a whole lot), it was time to get on a “diet”! We felt that we were 100% responsible for our situation, so filing bankruptcy was out of the question. We did spend that money, we did use the stuff, we were accountable to repay every last cent! So many of the programs focus strictly on the principles of budgeting, living way below your means, eating rice and beans for the rest of your life and socking away the difference. Now who can live like that long term?
Living below your means is not bad, don’t get me wrong. You need to become a tightwad, or you won’t have a wad, so to speak. But in our high consumer society, it is nearly impossible to have such an impeccable discipline. Many other programs focus strictly on investing, which is hard to do if you have nothing to invest. Investing is an awesome next step after you learn the right habits and disciplines and free up some money for that purpose.
There is, however, one and only program that combines the principles of Offense, Defense and Playing Field of money – Financial Fitness – a Guide on How to Build your Income, Get out of Debt, and Prosper in Any Economy. Precisely, it teaches the following.
- habits of saving and budgeting
- myths about debt
- benefits of practicing delayed gratification
- shows you a strategic plan to get out of debt
- helps you to avoid the traps of status and materialism and describes ten financial danger zones
- The role of mindset and moneyviews of the financially fit
- Long-term vision and why you need it
- Multipliers of wealth
- Harnessing the power of compounding to work for you instead of against you
- Active versus passive income
- What retirement means and how to plan for it
- Why investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make
- Investment Hierarchy
- The history of money
- Gold as currency
- How inflation works
- What government has done to our money
- How to rate your nation’s economy
- Predicting and preparing for economic downturns
- The role and significance of entrepreneurs
Going through this program will put you in a unique position. You will know something that only a few people in the world know. You will know the principles of financial fitness. You will know what to do to become financially healthy and how to set the example for others so they can do the same. You will know what the people around you need to do to get their financial lives in order and what your nation needs to do as well.
You have the power to not only develop financial fitness but also to positively impact the lives of those in your community and nation. And the time to take action in NOW!
Polina Z Latu is a successful blogger, excellent wife and outstanding mother of four who is on a mission to help people transform their lives through total personal development and financial fitness.