I mentioned in a previous post that my husband and I are working on paying off student loans with the help of Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps. As prescribed in Dave’s steps, it is important for Rick and me to live within our means. We have dreams of becoming debt-free, having a family, owning a home, traveling and giving generously to important causes. We recognize we can’t do all of these things now, and in order to partake in some of them, we need to pay down our debt by making sacrifices. I’ve previously discussed the changes we’re making including making a structured budget and cutting back on extras.
In Dave’s book, The Total Money Makeover, he explains how finances are 20% smarts and 80% behavior. As a health coach, I know a little about behavior change, and it requires thought and intention. I’ve started thinking about my purchases before I make them. I ask myself how this item will benefit me. Is it a want or a need? How will it improve my life? I’ve been taking a lot of things out of my shopping cart.
To stay positive and to keep me motivated, I try to look at how these sacrifices will benefit us. I keep reminding myself of the goal and why we’re making these sacrifices. It’s going to feel great when we make our final loan payment. When we can start looking for a house or take that trip to Australia. As with weight loss, it’s always exciting to get to the next landmark, the next 10 lbs. We remind ourselves of our progress every time we make a large payment toward our loans or when the first number changes.
Another thing that has helped me to change my mindset regarding the sacrifices we’re making is being grateful for what we have. Rick and I both have good jobs, a loving family and friends, and we have a great relationship with each other. We might not be taking big vacations for awhile, but that doesn’t mean we can’t create great memories. Just spending time together and with the wonderful people in our life is awesome. We have opportunities to enjoy free music, go dancing, read books, play games, go hiking, have meaningful conversations, all costing little to no money. We don’t need expensive clothes to impress anyone, and we can properly nourish our bodies without eating expensively. We focus on being grateful for what we already have, not the things society tells us we need to buy.
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