Becoming Debt Free: You Can’t Fix What You Don’t Own
Owning The Problem Is The First Step To Successful Debt Elimination
I’ve been a financial coach for about four years now, helping clients clean up their financial situations and get more bang for their buck. In that time, I’ve met with quite a few people and seen both successes and failures as they attempt the process of eliminating debt and building wealth.
Over the years I have noticed a definite trend with those who are successful with the process vs. those who are not successful. I’d like to say the difference between success and failure is having a top notch financial coach in your corner to help you navigate the course to becoming debt free. But that’s not it.
I’d also like to think it’s the income you earn, or even your debt to income ratio. But it’s neither of these. In fact, I don’t even think it’s a physical or quantifiable element that determines your success in becoming debt free. It actually boils down to a character trait.
He Who Owns The Problem Solves The Problem
In a word, what makes you successful in becoming debt free is ownership. I’m not talking about owning the right assets or the right credit card or even owning companies. I’m talking about owning the problem. In a society where the popular thing to do is blame someone else for your problems, I find very few people willing to admit that their financial problem is their own responsibility.
Simply put, there is nobody out there that can clean up your debt mess for you. Debt management plans, consolidation, and bankruptcy can all give you temporary relief and make everything seem like it’s ok, but they don’t address the root problem. If you don’t change the way you manage your money, there’s a really good chance you’ll end up back in debt.
At the end of the day, you’ve got to accept responsibility for your actions and decisions, past and present.
Unexpected Expenses Causing Debt
Ok, I know what you’re thinking right about now: What about medical debt? What about unemployment? What about [insert miscellaneous causes of debt here]? [Khaleef Here: I guess I can’t make excuses for my $65k student loan repayments! 😳 ]
No matter the cause of the debt, I still think it’s your responsibility. Sure, there are many cases where unexpected events happen that send a family spiraling into financial hardship. In the majority of these cases, though, the debt could have been prevented by being prepared with an emergency fund and not living so close to the edge. The unexpected expenses didn’t cause the debt. The lack of an emergency fund did.
I will admit that sometimes families are prepared and do everything right but still get socked with events that land them in debt. But in my experience these are the exception to the rule. Either way, you still have to own the situation and accept the responsibility to change things. Nobody’s going to win the game for you. You’ve got the ball. Time to run with it.
Time To Stop Pointing Fingers
A friend of mine likes to say it this way: When you point a finger at someone else, you have three fingers pointing back at you. How true that is. When I see folks constantly pointing the finger at someone else, I know they’re not going to be successful. They’re more interested in explaining how they got into financial distress than they are in fixing the problem.
When I work with families who solely accept the responsibility for changing their situation and aggressively take action to reverse their financial trends, I know I’m working with champions.
It doesn’t do you much good to dwell in the past and play the blame game. There are some lessons in the past that we can learn from, but living in the past keeps you from moving forward. It’s important to recognize that however you got to your current situation, the only person responsible for moving you forward is the person in the mirror. If you’re ready to accept the responsibility, get ready for success!
photo by Daquella Manera
Are You Ready To Be Debt Free?
What do you think?
Is debt caused by unforeseen circumstances or lack of planning?
Is it sometimes out of our control or totally preventable?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Matt Wegner is a Christian personal finance and small business coach, blogger, podcaster, speaker, husband, and father. Matt is passionate about debt free living and building wealth, which form the foundation of what he calls Living In Financial Excellence.