A decision to live on a budget is a great victory.  Many people in your situation do not have your resolve.  Once you pay off your debts, you can celebrate a tremendous victory!  You join the ranks of the small percentage of the American population that does not have debt.  Your life will have changed.  Free from the stress of debt, you now have significant disposable income that can be redirected in very positive ways.

When you have debt, it is said that you’re “underwater”.  How deep you are—and how potentially tenuous your situation is—depends on how much debt you have.  You can never come up for air and get a break from the stress that having debt involves until you pay it off.  You can never reach the beach, sit on the sand, warm yourself and enjoy the breeze.

Life is so much better when you are financially fit!  The only obstacle to keeping you from being debt-free is your decision not to do what is necessary to pay it off. That’s the simple truth.

Tenacious is what you need to be when following your budget: persistent, determined.  Having a budget means nothing unless you follow it.  And unless you follow it, you won’t get out from underneath that debt.  And if you don’t get out from underneath that debt, avenues you wish to pursue in life will be closed to you.  No one but you is going to pay off your debts.

This is your life.  Be a casualty, or be a winner.  Your choice.

Debt Stress is a barrier to success.  Anxiety over accruing interest, phone calls from creditors, and tough financial decisions can pile up.  Some people can handle this stress well and be motivated by it, but others turn to avoidance, guilt, or panic.

If your debt stress is causing you to avoid dealing with your debt, this is your reminder to take action.  Stop reading, call your creditor, check your balance, make or set up a future payment, or check out our financial calculators.  There are a lot of ways to deal with avoidance, but here are a few favorites:

  1. Set up a weekly or monthly appointment with yourself to check in with your creditors and bank. You’re more likely to follow through if you set time aside in advance, and you’re better equipped to deal with the stress if you have time to prepare.
  2. Download a mobile app that can show your account balances, and get in the habit of checking it when you check Facebook or email.
  3. Talk to someone you love and trust, ask them to sit with you while you make calls, or help you go over statements and plan payments. Remember that a burden shared is a burden halved.

Your debt stress might show up as guilt or panic.  It’s easy to feel guilty about spending money, especially when you’re living paycheck to paycheck or facing a large balance.  We recommend forgiving yourself: don’t forget your missteps, but be kind about mistakes.  You’re only human.  If you don’t forgive yourself you’re likely to associate handling debt with negative feelings, leading you down the avoidance road.  It’s important to remember that you deserve healthy food, a safe place to live, easy access to healthcare, and quality time with loved ones, even if they aren’t available to you because of your debt.

Our last piece of advice to help with Debt Stress is “Don’t panic!”.  Easier said than done, we know.  Take time for yourself to exercise, meditate, pray, or talk honestly with a loved one – you need to be well rested and confident to get financially fit.  We know you can do it, and we’re providing CapitalYOU as a resource to help you get there.

Sticking to a budget is very hard work.  Remember, life happens.  Things will come your way that will knock you for a loop and set you back on your budgeting.  Be resilient.  You can recover quickly if you believe in yourself and in what you are trying to accomplish.  Keep focusing on the goals you set out for yourself—goals that can only be accomplished once you are debt-free.

People often confuse quality of life with lifestyle. “I’ll be much happier if I have a nice car, a big house, fancy clothes, go on nice vacations, …”  That may be true if you can afford it, meaning you have an income large enough to spend all that you wish and still live within your means.

Too many people have a lifestyle which they cannot afford. They carry a large debt load that can compromise their longer-term financial health for the shorter-term enjoyment the debt burden affords. There’s a big tradeoff for lifestyle when risking quality of life over the long run.

Maybe it was through unfortunate circumstances like unemployment, medical bills or a divorce that you are in debt without the short-term gratification of the material goods which debt buys for other people.

Life is full of tradeoffs. Maybe your lifestyle suffers a short-term hit while you stick with your budget to get rid of debt.  Believe us when we say the tradeoff is worth an improved quality of life when you are debt-free, and your budget will then allow you to better achieve your goals and dreams.

Depending on how deep the hole you are in, e.g., how much debt you have, it may take some time—even years—for you to dig yourself out of a tough situation.  “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” With each passing month, you are getting closer to being debt-free and to having the greater ability to achieve your goals and dreams.

Debt affects the opportunities we are presented with, but it also presents us with its own opportunities.  Lost opportunities can vary from inconveniences – not being able to attend an event – to major setbacks – losing the ability to invest in real-estate.  These are all motivators to get out of debt, and to build skills to stay out of debt.  However, lost opportunities are a major contributor to debt stress.  If you’re a person who likes to solve problems and overcome obstacles, look at debt as an opportunity to challenge yourself and your community.  Start a competition to see how much you can reduce your utility bills (not only is this great for your wallet, it is better for the environment).  Teach yourself how to cook at home and contribute the money you save there to paying down debt.  There are lots of ways you can use debt as an opportunity to practice saving money and to learn new skills, and each way will help you tackle that debt even faster.