Five Ways to Melt Away Financial Stress and Change the Way You Think About Money!
It’s no secret that many people are stressed out about their money problems. I can relate, and I can still remember the day that stress and anxiety hit me square in the face. Does this sound a little like your situation? If so, I want you to know there is hope!
Life With Debt
We bought a fixer-upper home. We spent a good six months cleaning it up and doing some remodeling. Of course at the time I had no money and a mountain of debt. So the money we were using to afford the remodel was borrowed from my grandma. It makes me sick to my stomach just thinking back to those days.
I remember sitting down at my dining room table to pay my bills in my freshly remodeled home. I had my stack of bills, my checkbook, and a bank account full of money because I just got paid. I was a proud homeowner, until I started paying those bills. After every bill got paid I started to see that ledger balance slowly decrease and I was left with roughly $200 in my account. I still hadn’t paid any money back to my grandma, repairs still needed to be made, I needed to put some money in savings, and I had to pay for gas and groceries for the remainder of the month. How would I be able to do all of this with only $200? I couldn’t and panic and fear immediately set in.
I was a young twenty-something and scared out of my mind, so I did what any grown man would do—I called my mom! I asked her if this was normal. Sadly, she responded, “Welcome to being an adult!” That was it? This was going to be normal life?
That was the first time in my adult life I felt stress and worry. I lost countless nights of sleep wondering how we would make the next car payment or mortgage. There were money fights and arguments and feelings of embarrassment and shame. But that didn't stop me from making the situation worse over the next eight years. I would make more money, but then go further into debt because that’s what people do. I took advice from the financial industry or other broke people, which only made me more broke! Debt and payments were like a hamster wheel I couldn’t get off of. Until…
“We’re having a baby!” Having my son Noah changed the course of my life. I swore to myself that I would show him how money and debt worked so he didn’t have to struggle and worry like I did. I wanted to be a good example to him. So after about five years of hard work and relearning how to handle money and learning how debt really works, I paid off all of my debt and started living completely free of debt!
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Life After Debt
Five years later my family and I are still 100% debt free and it's a life that's much easier than I ever imagined. People look at getting their finances under control as a chore. And while it does take time and work, once you have a plan and momentum on your side it’s way easier than juggling bills and robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Speaking of time, these days I have way more time to do more of the things I love. I'm not working 60 hours a week trying to make ends meet. We’ve matched our income with our lifestyle and we see time as the most important asset in our life, over stuff and possessions. It's very freeing to know that you're content with everything you have in your life. When I was in debt, it was always more and what’s next? I was a hyper consumer who could never consume enough to satisfy me.
What about worry and stress? I have none! According to the American Psychological Association, money is the number one thing that people stress about. I'm happy to say that my family and I are no longer in that category. To be completely fair, I experience life emergencies still, because we’re human. In the past five years we have had car accidents, emergency surgeries, a surprise pregnancy, unexpected car repairs, and all of those were handled with no stress or worry because we have no debt and a sizable emergency fund. These life events are just blips on the radar now. Rewind back to five years ago and these events would have been catastrophic.
Once I became debt free, I had many people ask me for money advice. I discovered that I loved to help people get out of debt and free themselves from their chains. Our company has now helped thousands of people and families save and pay off millions of dollars! If you feel like I did all those years ago, I want you to know that it is possible to have a stress-free financial life.
Below are the five ways I melted away the financial stress in my life, and changed the way I felt about money. You can do this, too! This is not an exhaustive list and there's more to this money stuff than these tips. But if you're looking for a new direction, this will most certainly give you plenty of information to get started.
Make a plan!
I was terrible at managing my money mostly for this reason alone. I didn’t have a plan or a direction of where I was going. When you don’t have a plan it’s easy to just spend money or go into debt for whatever you think is going to make you happy in that moment. Where are you going? What goals and dreams do you have? Is your money helping you get there or is debt keeping you from it? Sit down and start evaluating your life and where it is going.
Track your spending!
Your credit card and bank statements are handy tools to look at how awful your spending is. I know it can be intimidating to go back and look at your purchases, however this makes a world of difference moving forward. I found that it wasn’t the large purchases that killed me; it was the smaller ones. Death by 1,000 cuts! Track your spending and you'll find cash you didn’t even know was there!
Banks, credit cards, financing companies, retail companies… they want you in debt!
The financial industry has one goal—to keep you in debt! The longer they keep you in debt, the more interest you pay them and the more money they make. Debt is a product, not a tool! I know they put a big fat bow on the offers they give you, but it's all a ploy to get you to play the game. If you want to get out of debt, stay out of debt, and reduce stress, you have to stop playing the game they want you to play and create your own rules.
Don’t take advice from broke people!
I wrote an entire blog post about this here. Along with the financial industry, you need to stop taking advice from your broke friends and family. Statistics show that 75% of the population is living paycheck-to-paycheck, and almost all of them have less than $1,000 in a bank account. These aren’t the people you want to take financial advice from! Instead, get some books, listen to podcasts, find people who are successful with money and do what they do! If you want to be rich and have money, do what rich people do! P.S. Rich people aren’t mean and nasty like Scrooge! Many of them are very kind and are more than willing to share their secrets to success with you.
Save, Save, Save!
Your income is your biggest tool to help you get back on track! When you work hard, and then send that hard-earned money to pay all those bills, that leaves you with nothing for you or for your dreams and future. You are priority #1. Don’t let anything rob you of being able to save for your future! This is why most people are broke. In order to change your course, you’ve got to learn to save first, spend second. If you don’t, you will rely on debt the rest of your life.
These five simple steps can be life changing, but it’s all about implementation. Which one will you start using today?