There are a lot of good reasons to get out of debt. It frees up your spending power, it keeps you from paying more in interest, it opens up options for your career and personal goals. Another thing that getting out of debt does it build character.
I was thinking about that this week, because Micah and I often use the phrase “it builds character” to help us keep doing something that we should be doing but don’t currently feel like doing. This phrase means much more to me as an adult than it did as a child, because I see all the good that comes of developing aspects of my character.
Getting Out of Debt Builds Patience
For most of us, the debt didn’t appear overnight and it’s not going away overnight either. Getting out of debt requires focus and commitment, but it also requires patience. Frustration with your progress is only good if it helps you find more ways to pay off the debt, not if it causes you to give up before you’ve succeeded.
Staying-out-of-debt benefit: Patience will help you save up for items or put off buying until you can afford them. It’s very helpful to have when trying to avoid getting back into consumer debt.
Getting Out of Debt Builds Discipline
In order to get out of debt, you have to take control over your finances and your desire to spend. Habits have to be changed, things have to be cut out or turned down. It’s easy to get into debt simply by not watching how much you’re spending, or by not taking your financial situation into consideration.
Now you have to take control of things again. You may have to work out a budget (and stick to it), cut out some things that you like but really can’t afford, and make decisions you’d rather ignore.
Staying-out-of-debt benefit: If you know how to control your spending, if you develop the habit of budgeting, you’re again less likely to get into consumer debt.
Getting Out of Debt Builds Courage
It’s a lot easier to avoid facing up to your debt than it is to tackle it. It’s also easier not to admit to people that you don’t have the money to do x, y, or z (though the recession has made that a bit easier). Once you face up to your debt and choose to pay it off, you start building courage.
Staying-out-of-debt benefit: Building courage is good because a lack of self-confidence and a need for the approval of others can be reasons why a person gets into debt in the first place. You may have been buying things to fill a hole in how you perceive yourself or because you didn’t have the courage to say no.
Getting Out of Debt Builds Endurance
Getting out of debt can wear you down. It necessitates changes in your life, it can be depressing when you aren’t making much progress, it can feel like it’ll take forever. And sometimes it’s great, you see how far you’ve come and you’re able to make amazing progress. It take endurance to keep going when you’ve hit the lows between the emotional highs.
Staying-out-of-debt benefit: Endurance will help you stick with the plan(s) you make for your financial future once you’re out of debt. It’s not just getting out of debt that can feel slow, saving for retirement or saving for a down payment or saving for your kids’ college can all take you through lows as well.
Getting Out of Debt Builds Character
I’m sure there are even more aspects of your character that you can strengthen by getting out of debt. When the going gets tough, remember it’s not just your pocketbook or your balance sheet that’s improving, it’s you as well. This will pay off in other areas of your life as well—as a writer, trying to stick to an exercise schedule, working toward another goal, etc.