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As a late financial bloomer, I’ll be the first one to admit that the biggest reason why I was in debt was that of my own doing. Sure, some things I didn’t know any better due to lack of financial education at the time, but a majority of it was simply on me making excuses as to why I couldn’t better myself to pay off my debt.
Speaking from experience and from listening to other people, most of the time we try to come up with reasons as to why we are in debt, but in reality, they are excuses that are impeding ourselves from removing debt.
The truth is your mindset will always be the key to determining your financial outcome. A weak/undiscipline mindset will always look for the easy way out and is likely to blame others for your problems. The harsh reality is that the world doesn’t give a shit about you or your problems. Yeah, there might be some things that could be hindering your progress in your career/finances/etc but it’s very rare that they are the root of why you are in debt.
Of course, the best thing about us human beings is that we have the power to change, and quite dramatically I might add. Sometimes simply being aware of the problem is enough to change your mindset and planning your path to fix it enough to keep you motivated.
My hope is that I can bring attention to the things I used to catch myself (and others) say that are more excuses as to why they aren’t getting out of debt.
1. I bring in more money than take home so the debt will be paid off eventually
Just because you look at your bank statement once a month and see that you have more money come in is like looking at a car accident while driving and saying “that’s an accident”. Just because something is acknowledged doesn’t mean the problem is solved. You know you are making money, now what? Having a plan of attack will make you more cognizant of paying off debt.
2. I’m young so I’d rather enjoy myself now instead of being old and wrinkly
Personally, I actually agree with this statement (rest in peace, my 3 followers). However, the context behind this statement is where I have a problem. Often this is correlated with unwise spending and knowing it’s unwise. It’s usually assumed that must either enjoy your 20’s or your 60s+. Why can’t it be both? I spent most of my 20’s figuring stuff out. I’m in my early 30’s and my debts are nearly paid off, so for me, I can start having my cake and eat it too.
3. I’ll let ‘future me’ worry about it
My future me fucking hates past me. He’s got more shit he has to deal with thanks to you. Treat ‘future you’ for once and think about him once in awhile in regards to future decisions.
4. My friend is giving me a job hookup I’ll be good then
Then…while I do agree that having connections can help job prospects, it’s not the end all be all of getting out of debt. It is up to you to determine if you land a job, is waiting 6 months to make an extra $2/hr when you could’ve used that time to learn to code or develop a skill that could 2x or 3x your salary?
5. You have a degree and I don’t, of course making money is easier for you
Ugh…I will say this now. Outside of the few degrees that required for your field– College is only good in teaching you how to learn. That’s it. I’d make the argument that trade schools and specific training courses actually pay more than a majority of college degrees (HVAC, Coding boot camps, PMP).
6. As long as I make minimum payments I’ll in good shape
Making minimum payments it like walking your dog for 15 minutes and treating yourself to pizza “since you earned it”. Yes, making a smaller payment might sustain your living for now, but at what cost? For debts in the thousands, you are literally costing yourself an additional 4-figure number in interest payments.
7. I read Dave Ramsey’s book I know what to do
I also know that healthy eating and exercise is key to being in shape…yet most of us are not. Reading and doing are two different things. I know I’m not the only one that reads a book and skips the “workbook” sections.
8. Ah, an extra $100! Time to treat myself
We all love extra money, the problem is that we treat “unexpected” cash as if it were “cash that is meant to be spent”. $100 is a lot of money and that could be 1/10th of a credit card debt.
9. My friends really wanted me to go out
I hate sounding like a negative Nancy, but spending $20 here or $30 there going out with friends really does add up. Here’s a harsh truth, sacrifices must be made in order for you to get out of debt (fast). Should you live like a hermit? That’s up to you to decide. I’m more of a side-hustle kind of guy so I can focus on debt with some social balance.
10. If I keep going to school I’ll never need to pay my loans
If you only plan to go to school as a way to accumulate loans in hopes that you land a $100k/year job, that might not work out for you. Chances are you still don’t understand basic finance and you will have to pay back those loans, and it will be quite a lot.
11. Student loans are ‘good loans’ to have
It’s good to have loans to help with your credit score, but it’s another thing to keep your loans around an gain interest because it’s so-called ‘good’. Personally, they are terrible.
12. You don’t understand this is the best job I could get
It’s great if you are working but if you want more money, consider looking for other jobs, a second job, or work on extra side hustles to boost your income. You don’t have to settle if you aren’t happy. There are many more opportunities than what most of us realize.
13. I was recruited for this program and I get paid if you sign up and pay me…
If you think you can make thousands of dollars instantly by doing MLM, please reconsider. Often these MLMs are pyramid schemes and only the first people (and the founder) are the ones that actually make money. Now if you were to create your own MLM…(kidding)
14. I’m just so tired after I work
I’m not about to go Gary Vaynerchuk on you and tell you to hustle until 3 am to the point where it’s downright unhealthy Some jobs are freakin tough and take up a lot of mental energy. But there are many other ways to make a quick buck that is relatively painless or that you can do while watching Netflix. I’m not talking about an extra $20 here or there, but from surveys, to finding class action settlements you can find yourself making an extra $500-$1000+ each month.
15. Sometimes you got to spend money to make money
CONTEXT matters, if you are investing in yourself then this is good. But if you use this as a way to go out to dinner with friends or to impress people in hopes that in 2-3 years down the road they will remember you and give you a bone, you’ll likely never see that come to fruition.
16. I just don’t have the time
Get creative! Ok, I’ll be more specific. If you want something bad enough, the less meaningful pieces of your life will be replaced with more impactful pieces. If you have a long commute, see if you have the option to work from home. Better yet, see if there are jobs where you can work from home. Got kids? Bling them out and become an influencer on Instagram. Or maybe fill out surveys while you are sitting on the toilet.
17. Everyone has debt! It’s common!
And everyone is miserable in debt, let’s all be miserable together! Outside of a mortgage, no other debt is fine under my book (I can already feel some you cringe, too bad). Besides, who wants to be apart of a group where no one is having a good time?
Yes, I can relate to the hundreds of memes that spread the YOLO culture on FB that other people in their late 20’s/mid 30’s keep posting. But let’s be real, it’s a high probability that you will live a much longer life than anticipated. Don’t be the streaker that didn’t plan an escape route and sits there awkwardly until security arrives.
19. But I really wanted to go on that trip!
I thought you wanted to get out of debt? Hmmm, life is hard, spread the word.
20. I make the minimum credit card payment but I get cash back!
You do realize, your 1% cash back doesn’t make up for the 20% interest in money owed. Get a balance transfer with no APR and no fees for Pete’s sake.
21. I can’t be seen at Walmart
Then go at midnight, there is nothing wrong with going to the place with the lowest prices. Though I’m more of a Smiths/Vons guy myself if given the choice.
22. I can’t give up Starbucks
Yes you can. Sorry, but yes, you can.
23. I want to spend the most and only the best gifts for me and my family.
Me too, but that’s not gonna happen. Sometimes not getting gifts and settling for alternatives for a greater goal for your family can be good character builders for your loved ones.
24. My loved ones will be disappointed if they don’t get what they want.
Aren’t we all. I’m still waiting for someone to donate the remaining $20K of my student loans. Any takers? (PS: email me joseph@debttodough if you want to donate, I’m not above getting donations and never will be)
25. Taco bell eww, never again. Chipotle all the way
One of my favorite comedians, Roy Wood Jr. said it the best:
26. I negotiated down my interest rates and I’m only paying 15% on my credit card
Close, instead of focusing on lowering the interest rate you can use that focus on paying down your total amount owed instead so that way there is no need. Or better yet, call another institution and see if they have any 0% APR balance transfers.
27. This television was $800 off and I only paid $600 for it!
You paid $600 for a tv that you didn’t need. You did the opposite of saving.
28. I’ll never pay off my debts
STOP thinking that! The moment you let debt define you is the moment you lose your ability to climb out of debt. It’s perfectly acceptable to acknowledge the debt, but don’t accept it as a norm. It doesn’t have to be.
29. I don’t need any help from anyone
I get being prideful has its value in society. But what I don’t get is that I’ve seen people turn down assistance from programs, other people, and family simply because “It’s not who I am”. I’m not sure what your end-game is with that mindset, but why make the road to getting out of debt that much harder when it doesn’t need to be.
30. You don’t know who I am or where I came from so what do you know
You’re right, I don’t. But I do know that getting out of debt is the same for everyone.
31. I need to keep using my credit card to have a good credit score
If you have credit card debt, stop using the same cards that you are collecting interest on, simple as that. While I am a big advocate of using them for perks and rewards, it’s detrimental to use them if you can’t pay it off each month. Also, you can hold off using certain credit cards for years before they “close it down”.
32. I really
want need this
Pretend there is someone judging you when you really ‘need’ that new shirt because it was on sale. They are always saying “hmm, really?”. If it’s not groceries, water, or shelter….you
probably don’t ‘need’ it.
33. It will figure itself out
Yes, it will (but not the way you want it to). Just paying your debt willy nilly or hoping for the best will put you in a world of hurt financially. You don’t want to get behind on payments and have a damaged credit score which could prevent you from getting a house in the future or potentially a new job.
Having a plan will come a long way in paying off your debt fast and effectively.
The Reality of Debt Excuses
Debt can be crippling to anyone. I sometimes cringe at some of these excuses because I was the one saying them. It’s been a long journey since I got into debt at the age of 18 but over time I wisened up and took action. I feel that most people are in a similar situation and I want to be the first to say that you aren’t alone.
When the excuses run out you have to take a hard look at yourself and decide what you are going to do. Is it to find another ‘reason’ on why you aren’t getting out of debt, or will you start considering that you have the power to change your situation?
What do you all think? Am I crazy?
Related (income edition):
- How To Create A Budget Living Paycheck To Paycheck
- Make $1000 Month Doing Surveys: The Ultimate Guide
- 4 Ways to Make $50+ Per Hour Right Now
- How To Keep Track & Budget For Balance Transfers