Debt undeniably takes a toll on people. I have given many talks on this particular subject and the one thing I always tell people is that you can only get out of debt by ‘paying off debt’. You clear your credit card balance by paying it off. Same thing with the car loan, Sacco loan, personal loan, mortgage, business loan etc. You pay! So the challenge most of the time is how to get the money to pay it off. Again, fairly straightforward. Cut expenses or find a way of generating more income. Getting out of debt is therefore fairly simple right? Simple, but not easy. The issue I have found with many of us is that we are unwilling to do what is uncomfortable. Waking up early on Saturday morning to work on your ‘side hustle’ so it can make you some extra money is uncomfortable. Declining to go for a friend’s birthday dinner because that money can make extra payments on your credit card is uncomfortable. Facing facts and selling your car to pay off a loan is uncomfortable. Telling a relative that you can no longer afford to give them money is uncomfortable. The list can go on and on and all scenarios will be uncomfortable. You will definitely experience discomfort. You just have to decide, which is the greater discomfort. The things you may have do or the debt.
Many of us stay in debt because we have not decided that the debt is the greater discomfort. The nice lifestyle, evenings out, nice cars, spending time in front of the TV, justifying being a victim of life, we choose to live in denial. That is why we keep hoping something will happen that will miraculously get us out of this mess. Moreover, even if this miracle was to happen i.e. an unexpected amount of money comes from somewhere, we usually find ourselves back in the exact same situation, in Debt! This shows that we need a motive that is far much stronger than getting out of debt, especially if we intend to stay out of debt. Let me share some lessons from success stories that have come my way.
Imagine what your pay slip could do for you if you did not have loans?
Just imagine all that money coming as is into your bank account every month? What will that empower you to do? This is the picture that Samantha kept in her mind for two years as she kept non-essential expenditure to an absolute minimum. She had realised that she was working for the bank and the SACCO as a cool forty percent of her earnings went there. Visualizing the life that she could have without this burden gave her the impetus to see this through. In particular, she latched onto the school she could take her daughter. Earlier she had assumed that she could not afford it but in essence she could. She earned enough money but her loan repayments were holding her back. In addition to this it was the things she could also do for herself. She was able to take a business course, have an annual holiday and start investing properly. There is also the peace of mind and in her own words, she could now think without the cloud of consumer debt. To make this practical, I would suggest you write a whole new budget. Plan your money assuming the debt is paid off. Make allocations accordingly. Even include how you would treat yourself the way Samantha did with a holiday. Does that motivate you? You can even phase this out and do it one loan at a time and allocate that money accordingly. Doing this practically at this level will leave an imprint in your mind. Knowing how you could be living without the debt will disturb you enough to take some action.
Ken had wanted to start a digital agency for the last four years. He had been doing it off and on during this time as a side hustle. Every year he would set a new resolution. He would declare that this is the year that he will leave employment and pursue this dream. He worked as a lawyer but he truly had a passion for communication and wanted to do this full time. But Ken was in debt. And every year, this is the debt that would stop him. He of course had other family responsibilities but that was not what primarily frightened him. It was the payments on his loan that curtailed him from pursuing his dream. One day a young man walked into his office. He was looking for a lawyer to do certain agreements for him. He started his business four years ago. The same time period that Ken had been dilly dallying with his concept. Guess what his business was? He ran a digital agency as well. His turnover is currently thirty million shillings a year and growing! What would you feel if you were Ken? In Ken’s own words it was like his dream had been stolen from him. The opportunity cost struck him like lightening. This young man did not steal Ken’s dream. Debt did. Ken is now working tirelessly to pay off his debt. He is dedicating most of his free time to his side hustle and his aim is to pay off half his debt and then take the leap. What vision is your debt costing you? Write it down.
Between the quality of your day to day life and your long term vision, debt, and in particular consumer debt has a steep price. Is it worth it? If not, what will you do to avoid being robbed any further? What to you makes the discomfort worth it? Get out of debt as fast as you can and as soon as you can. You will never be able to buy the years, life, dreams, hopes that it is stealing from you!