Yesterday, I mentioned running and its parallels to paying off debt. I have a few more observations to add to the list today.
1) Start Small. It’s not wise to run 13 miles if you’ve never run 1. You’ll either quit, throw up, or pass out (or worst of all, all 3). Equally so, it’s not wise to try to unrealistically reduce your lifestyle to eliminate debt in a more rapid fashion. I’ve mentioned before that we started with only an extra $100/month to put toward debt back in April of 2008. Back then, we kept in tact several budget line items that we might consider “extras” now. There were plenty of sacrifices that we’ve made in year 4 that we weren’t prepared to make in year 1. And honestly, I think that if we would have tried to make those cuts, we would have fell off the wagon and given up. For me, running creates a certain addiction. The more I endeavor to run, the more I love it. And paying off debt is no different. It’s an odd mistress, that’s for sure. However, the more success you gain with starting small, the more your brain reaches out for different areas that you can save money which you can in turn pile upon the debt that you owe.
2) The Pain Is Worth the Payoff. There’s not a better feeling than the end of a run. I don’t mind the actually process of running as much now with as many training miles under my feet. However, there’s still such an accomplishment to sprinting that last .10 of a mile and knowing you’ve met your goal. But I’ll be completely honest that running the first 2 miles always blows, no matter my fitness level. My lungs burn, my legs feel creaky, and I’m kind of cranky. When you first start a debt slaying journey, it probably won’t feel good. You may feel like you’re depriving yourself. You may feel like you’ll never win. But having paid off over $125K since April of 2008, I can honestly say, each of those moments of self doubt, every conversation I had with others that ended with “We can’t afford it.”, every single stinking sacrifice, IS worth the sense of freedom lurking in next 38 days. The pain of the first 2 miles is worth enduring for the the last sprint to the finish.
3) You’ve Got to Have Inspiration to Finish. I must listen to something when I run. Sometimes, it’s uplifting music. Sometimes, it’s angry bash your face in music. Sometimes, it’s a podcast. But for me to finish a run, 9 times out of 10, there will be headphones in my ears. I need that inspiration to both captivate and distract me or I won’t reach my goal. The same goes with paying off debt. You must, must, must be either reading something or listening to something encouraging and inspiring to succeed. Read the stories of those who have succeeded. Find people who are winning with their money, sit down and LISTEN. Fill your ears with whatever it takes to inspire you to finish. The King of Free has an excellent list of reading titles if you’re looking for somewhere to begin: the king’s top 40.