How to Get and Stay Out of Debt
Looking back, there are two critical habits my husband and I repeated that got us out of debt. Just yesterday, I realized that they are still as critical, years later.
What are the two habits?
- Living Below Our Means
- Open Communication About Money
Everything boils down to one of those two points.
Turns out I’m not alone in saying this.
I read about an amazing couple, Katie & Brian, who paid off $30,000 in less than a year to become debt-free (except their mortgage). What an incredible feat!
They have one payment.
Think about that. What would you do if you had only one payment?
Katie said the biggest difference happened when they began budgeting regularly and communicating.
We would set a budget & we would stick to it.
We would meet together at the end of every month to go over all our expenses.
We also agreed to have on-going financial discussions throughout the month. We made talking about our finances a priority, and it became something we both enjoy doing.
Read more about Katie and Brian’s story here, and learn what handy tools they used on their debt-free journey.
Life After Debt
I completely agree that those two habits made all the difference when we got out of debt. But that’s only the beginning for us. Years later, it is still just as pivotal to budget monthly and communicate regularly as it was then.
We would not be able to live as a family of four on my husbands income, allowing me to stay home with the children, without those two habits in place.
We would not be able to save up for a house.
We would not be able to give back to our church through tithes and offerings regularly.
That stuff is what matters to us. It may be different for you. But whatever it is, it’s worth the imperfect struggle toward financial freedom. And it is imperfect.
How to Live Below Your Means
Know how much money is coming in, what your expense are and reduce them to be below what you earn or you need to find ways to earn more. Ideally, you’d do both to protect yourself against inflation, illness, unexpected issues etc.
Living below your means or living within a budget doesn’t need to be difficult or feel restrictive. Work out the lifestyle you want, budget ways to do that (e.g. how to live a luxurious lifestyle on a budget) and make it work.
Open Communication About Money
Issues with finances is a leading cause of divorce. Yet, open communication can solve so many of those issues.
Everyone needs to know where the money is going, how it comes in, what the expenses are and future goals/plans. When people hide money, lie about it, do things behind each others backs etc it causes so many issues and IS a form of betrayal or infidelity.
Money is essential for life, so communicate about it. Be open with each other your big life goals but also the samll things e.g. if you want a coffee from the cafe every week, say it and look at working it into your budget.
Being on a budget isn’t about cutting everything out of your life. Open communication doesn’t mean one of you gets to control everything either.
Living within your means and communicating openly will provide a freedom you have never know. If done consistently, your life and finances will improve drastically.
My Advice for Getting Started
Getting started with a budget and regular, open communication about money can feel daunting but it is worth it. Here are 3 tips to get started:
The easiest and hardest step is to commit to tracking your spending (together). But do it. Set a date. Start a change.
Once you commit, you have a plan in place and you are both on board. Commitment makes a difference to anything you decide to do.
Once you’ve written down a plan, LIVE it. Be in regular communication with your significant other – especially the first 90 days. Just be honest. Change isn’t easy. Give each other grace.
If you have committed to this, you need to ensure you take the action you have committed to. If you mess up, fess up. It’s that simple.
Keep your eye on the prize though and follow through with what you have committed to do. Live within your budget and have open communication.
All it would take to completely wreck your financial plan is to do nothing. Isn’t that just the worst?
Trust me, we still experience this when we skip or delay a budget – which usually means we aren’t communicating about money. Protect your plan. Both of you.
Whatever you have decided regarding your plan, you have committed to it and are taking action. So now both of you need to protect that plan and each other. We all have weaknesses but if you are communicating openly and sticking to your plan, you can support each other through it.
Before you know it, your habits will change, your finances will improve and your relationships will improve as well. Life will be so much better.
What’s your next big financial goal? What steps have you taken so far to get there?