It seems that Americans are more concerned about the way they look rather than the amount of debt they have. The personal finance company Credit Karma recently conducted a survey of nearly 1500 adults that had some surprising results! Almost 72% of the people interviewed stated that they would rather keep their current level of debt than be debt-free but also experience a weight gain of 25 pounds.
Perhaps it's because people are reminded of how they look on practically a daily basis that the idea of carrying an additional 25 pounds evokes such strong negative reactions. Maybe if these same people were more aware of the harmful effects that owing so much money causes they would be much more motivated to shed their debt as well.
Nearly 75% of Americans have some type of debt. So why not use the same tactics that weight-loss experts have been recommending for years and direct that energy into losing your debt? Here are some great ideas which dieticians have found to be successful when dealing with weight-loss issues. These can just as easily be applied to getting rid of your debt.
Shed Your Debt with These Weight-Loss Tactics
- Set a realistic goal. Almost anyone who decides to lose weight has a certain number of pounds in mind. If you set a realistic goal to lose one to two pounds a week your chances of success will be much greater than if you try to starve yourself to drop ten pounds per week. The same holds true for your finances. Go over all your outstanding debt and calculate a reasonable amount of time you will need to pay off what you owe given the income that you have. Find ways to cut your expenses to put more money towards debt reduction. If you only make the minimum payments each month on your accounts you will be in debt forever.
- Keep track of your progress. Many people who are trying to lose weight keep a food journal. Writing down what they eat each day is an important part of their routine to control their portion sizes and the types of food they consume. This same tactic adapts itself to reducing your debt. You can use an online tool or simply write down your financial information. You need to list your income and also your expenses. Record your payments and account balances. Whatever is easiest for you and works best is how you should do it. If your accounting system is too complicated you will never stick with it.
- Don't make it harder than it needs to be. It's a lot more difficult to shed those pounds if your refrigerator is stocked with high-calorie temptations and sugary drinks. Most dieters make a clean break and stock only nutritious food and beverages in their kitchens. This is a great suggestion to use when you're working to lose your debt. One of the most important aspects of successful debt reduction is cutting your spending. You can't keep adding on new debt while you're trying to get rid of what you already have. If impulse shopping is destroying your finances, avoid what you know are the temptations. Stay away from the mall. Don't visit your favorite online stores. Say "no" to friends who want to go out for expensive dinners or co-workers who constantly invite you to happy hour after work.
- Use positive motivation. Many times someone trying to lose weight will hang up a dress or pair of jeans that used to fit as motivation to stay focused on the ultimate goal. You can do this, too, with debt reduction. Determine what your motivation is. Maybe you want to pay off all your credit card debt and start saving for a down-payment on a house. Put a picture of your dream home somewhere you can easily see it. It will help remind you of why you're cutting expenses and working so hard to lose the debt!
- Let others know what you're doing. Support networks are great whether you are working to lose weight or working to reduce your outstanding debt. Share what you are doing with your friends and family. They can help cheer you on and will better understand when you sometimes have to say "no" to an offer than involves spending money.
- Remember to reward yourself occasionally. Even dieters are allowed a special reward now and then! No, it doesn't mean they can eat an entire chocolate cake or gallon of ice cream on a routine basis. But it does mean they can enjoy a reasonable treat from time to time when they meet a certain personal goal. Remember to do this when you are cutting expenses and putting your extra cash toward lowering your debt. Keep it simple and inexpensive. Maybe a trip to the cinema or a dinner at one of your favorite restaurants. It's important that you budget for some occasional "fun" activities or other things that you enjoy. This will help keep you on track and motivated.