My post today is geared towards people that are overwhelmed with their situation; for people that have been fighting to get ahead for a long time, but seem unable to find traction or make significant progress.
Today’s post is really just expanding on what I talked about last week: some things are simply a matter of time.. You can manage money better than a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to reach the finish line in the timeframe you desire.
I’ve probably never been more frustrated in my life to hear stories online, or more frequently on the Dave Ramsey show, about a couple that paid off $60,000 worth of debt within 2 years!
Or how about the story of a person I follow on twitter: she paid off $500,000 of debt in 3 years! Your initial reaction is: ‘What?! How is that even possible? Wow!…they must have lived on nothing! Good for them.’
Then that couple/person tells their story and you typically find out one of three things:
1) They make a gazillion dollars/year.
2) They were able to sell a few cars that were financed.
3)They were able to sell a house or unload some investment properties.
While paying off that amount of debt is a great feat, and one that certainly requires sacrifice, I’d argue that it really doesn’t compare to the average American’s story – and our real struggles.
And that’s where my frustration comes in…the frustration of reality.
Personally, we didn’t and don’t have anything to sell or unload. All $110,000 of our original debt was either student loans ($75k), credit cards ($15k), or personal loans ($20k).
The only way to get rid of that kind of debt is by working hard, being disciplined, living on less than you make, and systematically paying down debt over a long period of time.
There is no get rich quick scheme or get-out-of-debt-quick scheme.
There is no bandaid that you can quickly rip off (i.e. selling a car or a house that has equity).
It’s simply a matter of time; simply a matter of doing what needs to be done and playing the hand you’ve been dealt.
Or sometimes more properly stated: playing the hand you dealt yourself.
You may be facing a difficult financial time right now and you’re wondering if it’s worth tackling; you might be 40 or 50 and wonder if it’s too late to get your financial life in order and start working on paying off your credit card debt; you could be like 10% of Americans that have been unemployed for awhile and are starting to give up on the hopes of finding a new job…hope fades and doubt creeps into your mind.
Maybe you’re not searching as hard as you originally did or focusing as much as you need to be. Maybe you’ve resigned yourself to being on unemployment and you’re enjoying the daily Price is Right and Young and the Restless routine. Okay, I’m not even sure if Young & Restless is still on, but I do remember that from when I had days off school as a kid.
While our reality may be frustrating, there are really only a couple of options at the end of the day. There aren’t many choices, but the choices you may, or may not, make will determine how the rest of your life plays out.
An old client of mine said it best: “you can sit and cry, or you can stand and fight.”
There are days I look back on our journey and realize how much further we still have to go. There are days that I wish I could be “normal” and decide to take 57.5 years to pay off my student loans. There are days that I wish I had one of those cool sell-your-house-to-get-out-of-debt bandaids that I could quickly rip off.
I mean seriously…5 years and counting?! I’m pretty sure I learned my lessons 2-3 years ago. I’m pretty positive I’ve paid for all of my stupidity.
But what I think or believe doesn’t matter…what matters is the ‘what is.’ What matters is my reality and how I choose to respond to it.
What matters is learning the valuable lessons that life teaches you. The lessons that make you stronger, wiser, and smarter.
You can’t change your past, but you certainly can change your future.
Nobody is going to rescue you from your past. Nobody is going to build your retirement fund for you.
Nobody is going to pay your debt off, find you a job, or pay your monthly bills on your behalf.
That’s all on you.
Life is full of daunting tastes, rough roads, challenges, and tough choices (while America’s younger generations fail to grasp this reality, I hope that you realize that it’s a fact of life – for everybody).
We all have our struggles on a daily basis…we all get knocked down. The question is, will you get back up? Will you fight back?
As you try to get help with money and look ahead to your financial future, there really are only a couple of choices you can make. You can stand, fight, and focus on doing the best you can (every day), or you can sit, curl up in the fetal position, throw in the towel and cry.
You can make the necessary sacrificies, or you can be normal and avoid the real issues and problems.
The choices are yours. Choose wisely – they will have an impact on whether you’re sitting or standing 20 years from today.
The articles are written by personal finance enthusiasts (not certified professionals) based on their personal experience. What works for them may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
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