If you are struggling with your finances, you're probably asking yourself:  How can I begin a radical life change that I know I will realistically stick to for a lifetime? How can I change my habits around money?  How on earth can I live on what I earn? How on earth can I live without credit?  How can I discipline myself to make lasting changes that will stick?

When I first faced the terrifying number of $28,000 worth of credit card debt, I thought I was truly doomed.  I belived nothing would ever change.  I didn't think it was possible to make such a dramatic change in my finances.  I felt this way because I didn't have a PLAN.  

Conventional wisdom didn't help either.  After I added up the total amount of debt that I owed, the room started to spin.  My breathing became short.  I rushed to my computer and typed in "get out of debt."   Internet, save me!

Here's what I found:  
  • Get out of Debt Programs.  Expensive programs  that advocate a tuna-in-a-can lifestyle until your debts were repaid. (Blech).  
  • Bankruptcy attorney sites.  A mountain of information that encouraged declaring bankruptcy to solve your problems.  (Gag.)
  • Multilevel marketing or get-rich-quick sites.  When you're desperate to pay your debts, there always seems to be someone lurking in the shadows to prey on your desperation to sell you yet another product that won't truly make you any money.  Beware!  If you are in serious debt, a shift if your thinking will ultimately be what turns your situation around for the better -- not more money.   (No thank you.)

Notice anything similar about these options? All of them require you to depend on purchasing someone else's answer.  (Bancruptcy attorneys, debt consolidation firms, get out debt programs and get-rich quick schemes.)  None of them require you to do the inner work of creating a powerful plan to change your money habits.  And that's precisely the first step to get of debt.  Know your destructive money habits and then begin to put a plan in place to change them.

I'm here to say that change is absolutely possible in your life.   I know because I live it every day and I've seen others change their financial habits.  But true, lasting, deep change comes from within, not some outsider who can (for a fee) swoop in an make all your problems go away.  

The first step to making being getting out of debt is to understand that while resources and guidance exist in abundance, the change is going to have to come from YOU.  You are the expert in your own life.  You know what motivates you, what your weaknesses are, who you hang out with and what your personal blueprint of success will look like.

That's why you may have tried and failed in the past.  Because you were using someone else's system,  something that may have worked for them and may have even helped you to a point.  

Eventually, though,  you will be challenged to do the work of creating unique and creative ways to make change stick in your life. No program, book, or expert will get you 100% of the way there.  They might get you 20% or even 50% of the way there. But eventually, there will come a point when you will have to use your own brilliant, talent and creative brain to come up with new ways of changing your habits based on your own quirks as a human being.  :)

The first step to begin to get out of debt is recognzing the following three concepts:
  1. You are the expert in your own life.  (No one else knows you as well as you do.)
  2. True lasting changes comes from within not from without.  (If someone claims to have "the" answer to your problems, run!!)
  3. While guidance, advice and resources will get you started, there will come a time in your journey where you will have to come up with creative solutions that work uniquely for you and nobody else. 

So back to the Internet search.  None of those options seemed like viable options for me.  But I did find a few tools that I liked.  
  • The Debt Elimination Pyramid (pay off your smallest cards first and build up to the largest ones.) Other people disagree with me on this but it worked for me.  Remember choose tools that resonate with your personality.  I like starting small and then building up.  
  • Use cash only (using my debit card when necessary)
  • Cut up my cards
Those were the three pieces of guidance I found in the world that resonated for me. Yours will be different.  

Then, I got busy creating some tools of my own that matched my lifestyle. 

  • I created a simple Excel budget that worked uniquely for me (since the tools out there seemed too complicated) which is what really helped me track my progress.  
  • I put a crisp $100 bill in my wallet and held it there for a year to remind myself when funds were lean that I always had more than enough. (I never spent it!)
  • I printed out my bank statement and changed the account balances to 10x what was actually in there at the time and I put it my dream book.  It said $10,000.  After I got out of debt, I went on to save exactly that amount. 
Let's bring it on home now.  

The first step to making a radical life change is to recognize that you're going to need a powerful plan.  Your plan will be most powerful if it mixes techniques, resources or tools from others with tricks and tips that are unique to your own personal rhythm and idiosyncrasies.  

You are the expert in your own life.  Learn from others who have done it first, THEN make it your own.  Only then will you have a powerful plan that will help you create deep inner changes that will last you a lifetime.

Your Turn: 

  • Do some research.  What are 3 pieces of guidance or advice around getting out of debt you've come across that personally resonate with you?  Advice that made you say "I can do that!"
  • What are 3 tips, tools or tricks that are unique to your lifestyle that you could implement today?  Things that didn't come from a book (or a blog!) that will motivate you to take action?



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    This blog will help you make  great changes in your financial life, giving your inspiration, tricks and tools to take daily action in the direction of your dreams!

    My name is Jill and I'm just a regular girl who overcame extraordinary personal credit card debt.    

    I live in New York City, I work in market research for a popular cable network and I'm 100% addicted to the Real Housewives on Bravo (and I mean every cast, even Miami.)

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