By Mrs. Shay Cook, CEO of Crusaders for Change, LLC (C4C) Accredited Financial Counselor® & Financial Fitness Coach®
In the current economic state of 2024, your journey to financial freedom may face some significant challenges. Rising inflation, shifting job markets, and unforeseen expenses create barriers for those of us striving to stay debt-free or pay down existing debt. However, that doesn’t mean a debt-free year is out of reach for you!
As you start off the new year, the prospect of a debt-free life can become something more than a resolution–it can be a real possibility! We want to give you some practical action steps you can take as you tackle your debt paydown or strive to stay out of debt in 2024.
At Crusaders for Change (C4C), we understand the burden of debt and the toll it takes on mental health and relationships. We want to equip you with actionable strategies as you start your journey from debt to financial freedom. And remember–we’re always here to give personalized support. Book your free clarity call with an Accredited Financial Counselor® anytime by clicking here.
Action Step 1: Acknowledge Your Starting Point: Face the Debt Monster
Before starting any payments or making a budget, facing your financial reality is crucial. Confront your debts, understand interest rates, and organize your financial landscape. This acknowledgment sets the stage for an informed and empowered journey. Write down the specific amount of debts owed, from where, and what the interest rates are, all on one page, so you can see the full picture. Need help understanding how interest works on credit cards with balances owed or other types of loans? Please schedule with us! We’d love to help you.
Action Step 2: Craft Your Financial Vision: Envision a Debt-Free Future
Imagine the life you desire beyond debt. What are your short-term goals? Are you interested in saving for something specific, like a car, or a down payment on a home? Create a vivid picture of your debt-free future–yes, we really mean it! Draw a picture and put it up where it can remind you. This visualization isn't just a daydream; it's a powerful motivator that will keep you focused on your financial goals. Put it up somewhere where you will see it every day.
Action Step 3: Understand Your Spending Habits: Where Do You Spend?
To overcome debt, it's crucial to understand the patterns of your current spending habits. It’s time to make a list of the past 30 days of spending activity and see in detail where your money went. We recommend writing it down all on one or two pages, so you can see the big picture of what’s really going on. C4C has practical tools for budgeting, tracking expenses, and identifying areas where you can trim unnecessary costs. Small changes in spending behavior can make a big impact on your financial journey.
Action Step 4: Build Your Debt Repayment Plan: Draw Your Path to Freedom
This is where you will get down to the nitty-gritty of crafting a personalized debt repayment plan. From the snowball method to avalanche strategies, there are a lot of different debt repayment methods out there. This is why we get to know our clients on a personal level–so we can walk you through options and help you choose the approach that aligns with your life and current financial situation.
Action Step 5: Cultivate a Debt-Free Mindset: Shift Your Perspective for Lasting Freedom
A debt-free life isn't just about numbers; it's a mindset. There are psychological aspects of debt, and you won’t be stuck in these patterns forever. There are strategies you can learn to cultivate a mindset that not only supports debt repayment but also empowers you to stay financially free for good! If this is the action step you feel you are on now, let’s have a conversation and help you shift your mindset for lasting financial freedom.
Action Step 6: Celebrating The Milestones Along the Way
Your debt-free journey will be marked by milestones. Whether it’s the milestone of making your first monthly payment, or a credit card completely paid off, it’s important to celebrate these victories! Acknowledging your progress, whether it’s big or small, fuels your motivation to keep going. How will you celebrate these milestones? What motivations and rewards can you give to yourself along the way? Perhaps a movie night at home, a relaxing evening listening to your favorite music, or a special drink from the cafe after each successful monthly payment. Living debt-free does not always equal complete deprivation from the joyful things in life.
As you embark on this journey from debt to financial freedom, remember that it's not just about reaching a destination; it's about embracing a lifestyle. Our Accredited Financial Counselors® stand ready to be your guide and your cheerleader on your journey to debt-free living. Let's make 2024 the year you stay debt-free and gain financial freedom!
Ready to take the first step on your financial journey? Contact us for personalized financial counseling and resources to make your debt-free aspirations a reality. Everyone’s life circumstances are different, and we believe the personalized approach is the best road to financial freedom. You're not alone in this journey – book your free clarity call here.