Wednesday, June 11, 2014

12 Steps to Defeat Your Debt Monster

Have you ever played the Whack a Gopher arcade game?  It's similar to the debt reduction game.  You smack one gopher with your paddle and then another one pops up somewhere else.  I remember trying to rid my California home of gophers.  I tried flooding the holes with water.  The gophers living there told there buddies, "Come live with us, we have an indoor swimming pool."  Then I tried smoke bombs.  The fix was only temporary.  The gophers kept coming back – just like my debt challenges.  I finally realized if I really wanted to be free of gophers, I needed to take a drastic step.  I moved away.  No more gophers.  Now I'm whacking away at my debts, this time using 12 steps to wipe out my debt monster for good.  Here's what I'm doing:
  1. Close the borders.  I built a solid perimeter fence around me and I refuse to allow any new credit cards in.
  2. Make a list of every debt you owe and arrange the list in ascending order with the smallest debt first.
  3. Determine how many steps you need to climb in order to become debt free.  Each step is a specific debt.
  4. Go after the gophers, one at a time.  Take out the smallest one first.  Save the biggest and the baddest for last.
  5. Set up a savings account for emergencies.  Don't use it unless absolutely necessary.  Do everything in your power to reach $1,000. Go for $1,500.  Then, keep saving monthly until you have six months in reserve for big challenges like an accident or job loss.
  6. Don't freak out if you slip on the stairs.  Just get back on your feet and start climbing.
  7. Pay cash for everything.  Before a new month begins, decide how much cash you are going to pay for entertainment and put it in an envelope.  If there's no money in the envelope, don't go out.
  8. Shop at thrift stores and garage sales.
  9. Sell or donate anything you don't need.
  10. Each time you pay off a debt, use that money you were paying to add to the next debt on your stairs.
  11. Open up an investment account for your retirement.  Don't touch these funds until you retire.
  12. Once your final debt is paid in full, share your success with your friends and family.  Teach them how to defeat their monster.
Other gophers may see your indoor swimming pool and be tempted to move in with you.  You have to be firm about border control unless you want a house full of gophers doing the backstroke in your pool you spent so many years paying off while they lived the high life on credit cards.  It's better to teach them how to build their own pool.  Just follow the 12 steps.

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