If you want to be debt-free but think it’s impossible, take if from someone who was deep in debt for decades … you can do this and it will change your life.
This is not a guide to becoming debt-free in 21 days but instead 21 days of debt-free motivation, inspiration and action. These steps aren’t about math and accounting, but about behavior and changing the way you think about your money. I never thought I’d become debt-free. In fact, I always thought I would be deep in debt and even deeper in the stress of debt. It took me longer than 21 days to pay my debt off – closer to three years, but it was worth every payment, every time we stayed home when we wanted to go out to eat, and every time we chose not to buy something or said no to ourselves in some other way.
Day 1: Schedule a Simplicity Summit (This meeting is about starting a conversation about your lives together. Note: if you live alone, you can hold a solo-simplicity summit. Regardless of age or any circumstance, it’s important to intentionally review finances, health and other things that are meaningful to you.) for two weeks from today.
- Set the date. Choose a time where you can have an hour or two with no kids or distractions.
- Make an agenda. Come prepared with a list of questions and other information to review so you can spend time talking instead of researching.
- Have a conversation. Talk and then listen. Then listen more.
- Daydream a bit. Say things like, “Wouldn’t it be crazy if…” or “I think it would be awesome to…” Then support the dreams, redefine them and make them actionable.
- Ask questions like why now or why not now? Play both sides of the coin to work through fears you may have that you didn’t know about.
- Clearly identify action steps for each person.
- Set the date for another quick accountability meeting in a week or two to review progress on the action steps.
- Always close the meeting with, “Is there anything that we didn’t cover that you want to talk about?”
Day 2: See your money on paper. Write it all down:
- what’s going in
- what’s going out
- what you own
- what you owe
Day 3: Let go of the guilt. Seriously! Lose the guilt and shame around your past money behavior. It will only drag you down and could spark some old “if I buy this, I’ll feel better” spending habits. You are making a change. Let’s focus on that.
Day 4: Listen to my debt-free story.
Day 5: Write down why you want to become debt-free.
Day 6: Seek out other debt-free stories for extra inspiration.
Day 7: Write down how you think you’ll feel when you don’t owe anyone anything (note: it will feel 1000 times better than that).
Day 8: Start saving $1000 for an emergency fund – even if that looks like $1 a day or a week at first.
Day 9: Cut needless expenses. Cable TV?
Day 10: Write down everything you can sell.
Day 11: Decide where to sell the stuff (yard sales, consignment stores, ebay …).
Day 12: Get the stuff up for sale.
Day 13: Make a list of ways to generate extra income.
Day 14: Curate your social media feeds to support your debt-free journey. Get rid of the shopping brands you follow and instead follow:
and others who want to inspire your efforts instead of derail them as you work towards becoming debt-free.
Day 15: Simplicity Summit day! Create a debt-free plan.
Day 16: Start your debt-free plan.
Day 17: Cancel your cards. Have the great credit card debate after you are debt free. For now, you don’t need the temptation.
Day 18: Cancel your plans (aka annoy and inspire your friends).
Day 19: Read Money, A Love Story and/or Your Money or Your Life.
Day 20: Revisit your answers to #5 and #7.
Day 21: Celebrate the beginning of a new, sometimes hard, but very rewarding adventure.
At the end of these 21 days, you’ll be on your way to becoming debt-free. Congratulations.