If you read the newspaper or watch TV, you can’t help but feel that everyone in the US is in debt up to their ears. With the economy still struggling to recover, we hear of more and more people becoming mired in more and more debt.
I have heard from many people who are just paying the monthly minimum, but keep on using the card. The result is that the debt just keeps growing and growing and every payday a larger part of their salary is being used to service their debt. These people want a path toward financial freedom, a place where they control their finances, instead of their finances controlling them.
The problem so many of these people have is that they want very badly to gain control of their finances, but they lack the motivation to keep on track, to keep taking the steps they need to take to make that dream happen.
For those people I offer in this article, five steps to financial freedom, steps by which you can seize control of your finances. These steps are based upon the model for self motivation. They serve the dual purpose of not only helping you get back on track, but also keeping you motivated to stay on track.
Step One: The first thing you need to do is to understand why you want to seize control of your finances. The more valuable a goal is, the more likely you are to achieve it. So write down all the positive reasons for why you want to regain control of your finances. What will you gain? reduced stress? the ability to buy things you need? a feeling of pride at how responsible you are? Also write down what will happen if you fail to make this change. Will you have to file bankruptcy? Will you lose your house? Will you be miserable and depressed and disappointed in yourself?
Step Two: Determine exactly what regaining control of your finances means in your situation. Clarity is motivating, so the clearer you are on exactly what you are moving toward, the more likely you are to get there. Here are some issues you need to get clarity on. How will you know when you have regained control of your finances? Does it mean reducing your debt? Does it mean living below your means so you can be paying off your debt? Write down what will be occurring in your life when you have succeeded. Every success you have will motivate you even more to achieve another success.
Step Three: Write down a clear description of how you are going to make this change happen. Make a plan. Write down all the steps you can think of that will help you make this change. Will you cut up your credit cards? Will you track your spending for a certain period of time? How long? Will you make a budget? Will you set aside a set percent of each pay check to use toward your debt? Will you need to take an additional, part time job for a while to catch up on your debt? Will you contact your creditors to try to work out a payment plan? Step Three provides two very important motivational impacts. Clarity, as we saw in Step Two, is motivating. But also, a big goal, like gaining control of your finances, is less scary when it is broken down into its component tasks. The less scary something is, the more confident you will be that you can succeed. Nothing is more motivating than confidence in your competence. That’s why it’s factor number two in the model for self motivation.
Step Four: Be in charge. Suze Orman says in The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom, “True financial freedom is not only having money, but having power over that money as well.” Make a conscious decision that you control your financial life. You are the boss! Power is motivating. Acting intentionally is motivating. Being a helpless victim of the economy is NOT motivating. Take charge and you will stay in charge.
And last, but by no means least:
Step Five: Find resources that will help you make this change. The worse the economy gets, it seems, the more resources there are for those who need help getting back on their feet. Here are three: