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Got debt? Despite what the credit card companies would have you believe, debt does not have to be a way of life, and there’s a very good chance you are deluding yourself. If any of these seven lies sound familiar, it might be time to start rethinking the way you look at your finances and put you on your way to financial freedom.
When she was just a toddler, my oldest daughter shoplifted from a local craft store. I didn’t discover her offense until we arrived home and I was taking off her coat. Inside her teeny fur lined pocket was a small “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” button with the price tag still on it. Immediately, my brain fast-forwarded to weekend visitations, orange jumpsuits, and phone conversations taking place between a plexiglass wall. This was surely the beginning of the end. A life of crime, just launching, for my sweet pig-tailed verbose redheaded darling, oh the agony!
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In a brilliant flash of first-time parenting, I packed her back into the car and together we rehearsed what she would tell the clerk when she returned the button. I reminded her over and over again that she could not take items that were not her own. I walked hand-in-hand to the counter and bravely she repeated:
“I’m sworry. I twook this and it was not mine. Will you please forgive me?”
The caring employee began to gush over my daughter, reassuring her that it was OK. Then the middle aged woman turned to me and asked a question I will never forget.
“She’s so adorable! Can I give her a sucker?”
NO. She stole from you. You want to reinforce that behavior? Listen lady, this little Jesse James wannabe will bleed you dry if you give her candy for robbing you blind. This time it’s novelty flair, next time it’s one of those $80 fancy figurines.
Maybe we both went a little overboard? But the sweet woman behind the counter and I bought into lies. I immediately assumed that a two-year-old could understand the weight of her transgression and that a small infraction would lead to a life of law breaking. After all, as a thirteen year old, she doesn’t even remember this experience. The much more graceful clerk dismissed the action and wanted to reward wrongdoing. Just like that, the lies we told ourselves led our extremes to different destinations, neither healthy.
During our journey of paying off over $127K – a story you can read in my book Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found An Inspired Happily Ever After – we encountered and battled many lies about debt. After dismantling each with simple truth, we were able to find a place of financial freedom.
1. Everyone Has Debt
This lie is often trotted out when we want to excuse a new purchase. Herd mentality is nothing new. I used this very defense more than once when I wanted my mom to buy something for me in high school. “But moooooommmm, everyone has one!” However, there are plenty of people who have no debt at all, not even a car payment or a mortgage. Debt does not have to be a constant reality from birth to death. Everyone does not have debt.
2. We Won’t Ever Have Any Fun
I’ll admit that this wasn’t my most noble lie during the process of paying off debt. However, I had a great fear of not being able to provide magical memories for our children, spend quality time with my husband, or invest in friendships because we did not have any extra cash. Of course, I discovered that all of the above does not require money. Relationships are built on intentionality, not entertainment. Along the way, I also learned that I truly value simple pleasures in life. Living to the fullest does not equate to dollars and cents. You can pay off debt and still have fun.
3. I’m Not That Good With Money
Friends, if you know how to log onto the Internet and read an article, that mistrust isn’t working for you anymore. You are more than smart enough to handle your debt situation. Will it take time and a willingness to pay attention to detail? Of course. Will you have to be dedicated to the process? Certainly. I often quip, “Paying off debt is not complicated. It’s just not easy.” While there are many methods to tackle your money monster, the basic principle is to spend less than you make, potentially take on more work, and put the difference toward your debt. Stop lying to yourself. You ARE good with money. The road to financial freedom often starts with honesty.
4. My Children Shouldn’t Have to Suffer for My Mistakes
Closely related to the “We won’t have any fun” myth, this lie often paralyzes us from making the choices necessary to get out of debt. Can I be straight with you? Your children probably will suffer as a result of your financial mistakes. Sure, you might be able to swing a trip to Disney on a credit card now; however, your kids will end up paying for your care in your old age when you haven’t saved for retirement or taking out massive loans themselves for college.
But here’s the good news–your sons and daughters will not have to wear potato sacks to school and if you budget carefully, you can still pay for lessons or sports leagues. But you can’t say yes to every trip, expense, or extra. After you pay off debt, you’ll be able to spend more on your children. But maybe, just maybe, the process will help you learn what is most necessary and what you can do without. Yes, your children might have to suffer for your money mistakes, but choosing not to manage your resources well could further increase that suffering.
5. I Need to Build Good Credit to have Financial Freedom
Building credit is only necessary if you plan on borrowing money again. If you have no need to borrow, you will have no need for credit. Even still, a reputable lender will work with you if you prove you are debt free, sharing your full financial picture. We have been out of debt for nearly three years, and our credit scores are great. On top of that, no one has asked us what those scores even are. Credit is not as important as you’ve been taught or the lenders would like you to think. Once you make this mindset shift, you will be on your way to financial freedom!
6. Credit Cards Are Necessary for Online Shopping & Traveling
The last time our family had a credit card, LOST was the most popular show on TV. Since then, we’ve traveled, purchased items online, and made our daily transactions with a debit card backed by MasterCard. That means we have the protections against fraud, but the money comes directly out of our checking account. You do not have to have a credit card to make major purchases.
7. Paying Off Debt Is Impossible
My heart breaks each time someone shares a story of mammoth debt. Typically, no one in their childhood dreams of being stretched thin financially. No one longs to spend the bulk of their income on interest and payments. Many have tried unsuccessfully to pay off debt in the past. They feel overwhelmed, isolated, and hopeless. Lean in close and don’t miss this.
Paying off debt is not impossible.
I know you might be incredibly discouraged and not know where to begin. I know your heart is heavy. You’ve read the books, listened to the podcasts, and exasperated yourself to the point of exhaustion. All of the right thinking in the world, all of the best budget forms, all of the top notch strategies – none of these will do you any good unless you have Hope. You must begin to believe that your dragons can. be. beaten. before you embark on your epic quest. True, you might need a new approach. You may even need practical tools. But most of all, you need to stop believing the lie that it will never happen for you. Paying off debt is possible. I’m living proof.
Become deaf to the lies that you have told yourself. Quit listening to the lies that are marketed to you. Throw off the chains of debt. Be free.
Stop letting those bills pile up each month and find financial freedom by grabbing our Start Paying Off Debt Cheat Sheet!