I’ve opened credit cards to pay credit cards, continued to go on dates with guys I knew I didn’t really vibe with and bought one too many apple pies from McDonald’s hoping that one day they’d actually be good for me.
Right before I went to college, a family friend took my two cousins, my two brothers, and myself back-to-school shopping as a big hoorah as the summer days began to turn into fall breezes and falling leaves. It was a glorious day as I strolled through the outdoor strip mall with what was left of the $100 I was given. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that Gap was having a jean sale. I mean, who can resist a good pair of bootcut on clearance? I had about $30 dollars left and when I made it to the register, it rang up for $31. Just as I was about to tell the cashier never mind, she said, “you can get 30% if you sign up for a gap card, and it’s free to try!” I took a moment and realized that I was 19 now and actually could apply for a card. I’d never applied before but who cared? Those boot cuts weren’t going to wear themselves…and that’s when my dysfunctional relationship with credit card debt began – with a pair of Gap bootcut jeans and a charge card. Welcome to my frantic climb out of consumer, student loan, and miscellaneous debt!
At first, I thought it was just about getting out of credit card or student loan debt, but the real question is: am I really ready to be financially responsible?
That’s the question we have to honestly ask ourselves as we dream and plan on one day becoming financially independent. I had to ask myself those questions several times before I was really ready to answer. Once I did, I discovered that there were three essential mindset shifts I would need to make in order to start and sustain my debt freedom journey. I’m sharing these shifts with you in hopes that it brings you closer to making the right decision for yourself, your family, and your future.
- You can’t change what you didn’t know, but you can change how you move forward.
I used to have a serious attitude towards my past, my parents, and my educational institutions for not giving me the tools to be financially successful at a young age. Why didn’t my parents tell me that? Why didn’t my high school explain the details of budgeting? Why was I never interested in learning more about money as a kid?
All of these questions and more would run through my mind as I began my financial literacy journey. I felt behind and out of touch with how to handle my money. I read books, took classes and workshops that all talked about the same core principles of any budget: pay God, pay yourself, pay your bills (in the simplest of terms) and, yet, it all seemed so new to me like I’d never really known how it applied to my money and my vision for life.
This journey required me to let go of what was, take hold of where I am, and create a vision for where I’m going. If you want to be consistent and successful in your debt freedom journey, it will require forgiving your past and taking charge of what you can control. It’s the only way to ensure that the responsibility for your financial future doesn’t get delayed in the drama of the past. Move forward with the desire to do better and be better than your community had the knowledge or chance to do themselves – and don’t hold it over them. Let your success be a model to inform and inspire others to do the same.
2. Make a clear, achievable vision.
I’ve mentioned having a vision already a few times in this post, but I really can’t say it enough. Over the last 7 years, I’ve tried and failed budgeting more times than I’d like to admit. I had really good streaks and really bad ones that amount to going back to an ex-relationship that was doomed from the beginning – but all of that was mainly because I didn’t have a vision.
I didn’t have a model or idea of how I wanted my financial future to look after debt. What would I put my money towards? At what age did I want to retire? Did I want to buy a house, a new car? Retire my parents or invest in entrepreneurial pursuits? How much did I want to give and leave for my kids, grandkids, and beyond?
All of these questions are a part of your vision statement. A budget tells your money where to go on a daily, weekly, monthly, and for some, a yearly basis. A vision helps you structure that budget to get you there. Proverbs 29:18 says, “where there is no vision, people fail.” I’ve been that person and I don’t intend on ever going back. Do yourself a favor and start your financial vision statement and plan today.
3. Find or create accountability for yourself
The reason why I’ve paid off over $10,000 in debt since July 2020, is because I had someone objectively encouraging and challenging me to abandon unhealthy money habits in favor of healthier, more productive ones. My accountability partner (AP) has really helped me get outside of my own head and habits surrounding money and stay focused on my goals. I will say that depending on the friend or relative you enlist for this support, one of the most challenging on-going conversations you have to have can include: admitting your financial blunders, talking through each good and bad money decision, or learning to compromise your wants for your needs in order to create financial freedom in your future. But I can guarantee you that if you give it time, take their advice into account and really allow that person (if it’s the right person) to really challenge you to be better, you can be certain that your consistency and success will become an even more vivid reality than what you could accomplish on your own.
So, there you have it, friends, 3 essential mindset shifts to get you out of debt and into your financial freedom stage. I’ve created a free financial vision template download using the questions we discussed to help you jump-start your financial freedom journey. Just drop your email below to receive this free resource to review and come back to at your convenience.
What are some mindsets you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are in your financial journey today? Share them with me!