In my experience, people who get out of debt do so primarily through hard work, sacrifice, and persistence.
In fact, I think the road to the debt free life is built by the hands of sacrifice.
Why Must You Sacrifice To Get Out of Debt?
Since sacrifice involves giving up something, I’m going to say the opposite of sacrifice is indulgence. Financially speaking, indulgence would be spending without any control. It is purchasing whatever thy heart does desire. Sacrifice would mean giving up something.
Unfortunately, there are many pathways into debt. In this post, I’m going to focus on the most common reason of debt – indulgence.
If you are in debt because you have made a habit of spending more than you earn, then the only receipt for getting out of debt will be sacrifice.
Consider the example of buying a car. If you want it now, your only option will be to get car payments. However, if you have a sense of control, you will save up until you can pay cash for a car.
Things I Would Not Sacrifice To Get Out of Debt
Here are a list of things I would not sacrifice on a journey to get out of debt.
Since I believe giving is a spiritual activity, I would continue to give in debt.
2. Memories and experiences
If debt is one type of slavery, I certainly wouldn’t want to exchange it for another type of slavery – a dull, meaningless life.
3. Family and relationships
In different lists I’ve seen on family stressors, money issues are usually very high on the list, but divorce is always higher. If in an effort to get out of debt, if you ignore or neglect your family beyond a mutually agreed on period, then your get out of debt journey might unintentionally have a relational cost.
When getting out of debt, families need to communicate very clearly about motives, intentions, and expectations. Getting a second part time job or turning a hobby into a source income is a common way of paying off debt. However, if in an effort to get rid of debt you start lose your family, you need to regroup, refocus, and rewrite a plan to get out of debt.
Creativity: The Key To Getting Out of Debt & Having Fun
Without creativity, you might think that you need to choose to either get out of debt or have some good memories and experiences. But, you can have both. In fact, these things I listed above are mutually inclusive.
With your family relationship, sometimes sacrificing something for a short term loss will provide long term gains. A family might decide that one parent will work like crazy for a designated amount of time (6 months – 2 years) so that they can get out of debt. They know that temporary sacrifice will give a greater return for their family in the long run. During that time, they creatively work at having a healthy family relationship and getting out of debt.
Creative Examples When Getting Out of Debt
Giving: It might be that you cannot give money, but instead you focus on giving some of your other resources. This conscientious decision means that you understand giving is about more than money, and you can give something more valuable – your time.
Families and relationships: Getting a second job does not necessarily mean more time away from the family. Perhaps you can find a job that allows you to work during hours when your family might otherwise be sleeping. Consider something like early morning newspaper delivery or writing in the evening.
You might think that because you are in debt you can’t go on vacation. You can go on vacation, you just can’t spend much money. How about a staycation?
Memories and experiences: It is possible to be frugal and have fun. Unfortunately, a lot of people think those two things are diametrically opposed. A park can be as fun as a theater. A picnic at the beach can be as much fun as dinner at a restaurant.
You can keep the memories and experiences without spending dollars.
What do you think – is it possible to have it all? Are some things not worth sacrificing to get out of debt?
Peter Anderson says
I think that it’s possible to get out of debt without making too much sacrifice – it’s just gonna take a whole lot longer than it would if you were willing to make some significant sacrifices.
Like you I’m not really willing to go too far with the sacrifice as I want to make sure I’m still tithing, that I’m spending time with my family, and so on. But if we were in debt again I know I’d want to get down to work on removing that debt as soon as possible.
Craig Ford says
I guess there are a lot of cases where you can get out of debt without sacrifice. I guess it is like the bandaid -do you rip it off or slowly peel it away.
Sometimes a lot of pain for a short time is better.
Derek Clark says
I agree that some sacrifice is necessary. You are going to have to give up whatever it was you were doing to get into debt. Buying new cars and using credit cards etc. To your point though you shouldn’t sacrifice so much that you quit giving or hurt relationships. Keep things in perspective.
Craig Ford says
Perspective is very important.
You’re right that there are certain things you MUST give up to get out of debt. Cut the credit cards.
Paul @ FiscalGeek says
We sacrificed quite a bit to get out of debt but that’s because it was an agreed upon plan that eveyone signed up to be “All in.” Kids included in that mix. We had a timeline and knew that if we really did it we could hit it. That makes all the difference. I think it absolutely makes sense to sacrifice to hit that goal you really want. But in this case sacrifice can mean that instead of eating out, we make a nice dinner at home. Friday night is a board game rather than a trip to the movies. The clothes you have right now are fine for the time being. It also has the side affect of teaching contentment.
I would also recommend setting the non-negotiables. Those things that you absolutely will not give up to reach your goal. And for us that was tithing and supporting our charitable orginazations that we love. And you know what, we were blessed throught that as well.
All in all an excellent post Craig!
Craig Ford says
You said something very important – it was an agreed on plan. Agreeing on both the plans and the non-negotiables is a very health approach.
Simple answer: Yes!
Sacrifice is necessary to get out of debt. Sacrifice in this sense is taking a short term loss in return for a greater gain. The loss is really giving up that which you went into debt for in the first place. As Publilius Syrus said in the 1st century B,C “Debt is the slavery of the free”. It is as true today as it was then. You must give up the habit of spending more than you have.
I wrote recently about the process one should take to build up a contingency fund. Eliminating debt, investing in your long term wealth, building your 6 month contingency fund and giving to charity must all be done simultaneously in order to develop the habits that lead to financial independence. The amounts can vary but the habit must be acted on every single time.
Your money habits make all the difference.
Craig Ford says
I completely agree. You can’t continue to do the exact same things and expect different results.
I’m with you on the staycation idea. You can have fun and stay on a budget. Lasting family memories don’t have to have large price tags. Now ….how can I convince my wife of this? :-)
the man thing that i have to remember that spending is a behavioral issue.
I would have to say that yes, there is some sacrifice involved, but much less than you might expect.
It is much more about changing your mindset and habits when dealing with money
Michelle Traudt says
Great post, I needed to read that today. Thank you!
Craig–you’re on to something with Creativity! One of the primary reasons we get into debt is that spending money is a default setting. We’ve become so enchanted with the idea of using money to leverage our time that we don’t think about it.
For example, how often is the declaration “let’s celebrate” followed by “where do we want to go to eat”–the default choice is “we’re going to a restaurant”. That keeps us from having to think of something that might be less expensive and even more fun.
There’s usually a less expensive alternative to what ever we’re doing, but we have to stop and take time to think and investigate the options. It’s so much easier to whip out the plastic, do it, and be on to the next adventure. At least until the credit lines are exhausted, then we’re forced to be creative with very limited options.
BTW, I did the newspaper thing a few years back and I don’t recommend it. It isn’t your fathers paper route any more, much has changed…