Financial Friday: Part V of Single Mom’s guide to getting ahead

Jill is a single mother living in Colorado with three sons. She works full time, functions as CFO, maid, psychologist, chauffeur and coach, and specializes in maximizing her income through smart, careful budgeting and cost-saving strategies. Her humor and frugality play out at Single Mom on a Budget.

Staying out of debt

Staying out of debt is much like driving a car.  You have to keep your eyes on the road.

  • If you are fixated on the car crash behind you, you are going to cause another crash.

If you are constantly thinking about your debt instead of taking steps to fix it I can almost guarantee that you will make the same mistake(s).  How can I be so sure?  Because it can be depressing to deal with debt if you don’t have a plan in place to clean it up.  You think about it and obsess about it, but do nothing.  Depression can, and does, lead to spending more money.  You know… to make you feel better.  To pick up your spirits.  *wink   Don’t look in the rear view mirror, look straight ahead.

  • If you are checking out the scenery, you are eventually going to veer into oncoming traffic.

If you are looking at everything except your current finances you are going to run right into a financial mess.  Whiplash doesn’t feel very good does it?

Knowing your account balance at all times is crucial to avoiding a head on collision.  Many banks and credit unions offer free Internet banking so if you haven’t already signed up do it now.

Check your account balances DAILY for at least ten weeks. After ten weeks if you are confident you can ignore the beautiful “scenery” passing you by, you can move to every other day and then once per week.  If temptation sneaks up on you go back to checking daily.

The one thing that can still derail me is checking out the scenery.  I let the thought of “oh, this one little purchase isn’t going to hurt anything” fool me.  But it isn’t that easy.  Deep down I know that it NEVER ends at that one little purchase, but I do it anyway.   Do not take your eyes off the road!!!

Two months is about the time where you will begin to feel comfortable with the changes you’ve made in your life, which is why I recommend staying strict in checking your accounts for 2 ½ months!  Chances are greater that if you check daily and you know on Tuesday that you have $50 in your account you are not going to blow $75 at dinner on Wednesday night.  No excuses!

  • If you run a stop sign, you are going be t-boned and carted off in an ambulance.

If you know you have debt but you continue to spend money at full speed because “they just keep giving you credit” it is very unlikely that you will make it through unscathed.  In fact, you are likely to be hit so hard that you are left with nothing but a broken credit score.

You CANNOT continue to spend money you don’t have and expect to get out of debt.  You have to take and active role in your finances and make changes.

  • If you don’t have a map how do you expect to arrive at your destination?

If you have $10,000 in debt and set out to pay it off with no budget in place and no carefully laid out plan, you are going to end up in worse shape than when you started.  I promise.

You have to have a budget and goals.  You have to understand what debt is and how it amasses.  You have to make changes.  You have to take steps to pay down your debt.

Getting ahead of your debt takes time and dedication.  The hardest part is the first two months!

Keep your eyes on the road to reach your debt free destination.

Don’t miss the rest of the series:

Part I of Single Mom’s guide to getting out of debt: Budget and Realistic goals

Part II of Single Mom’s Guide to getting out of debt: Debt

Part III of Single Mom’s guide to Getting out of debt: Making Change

Part IV of Single Mom’s guide to getting out of debt: Paying Down Debt