Imagine your friend comes to you for advice. He has a ton of consumer debt, and asks you to tell him ONE THING that he needs to know. That’s all he has time for: ONE THING. What would you tell him?
Would you tell him about the debt snowball method? Or maybe you’d advise him to cut restaurants out of his budget. Or maybe you’d get more technical and explain to him the zero-balanced budget. You’d be giving very good advice.
But you’d be wrong.
Hear me out, now, before you quit reading. Those are all good things, really good tools to use in the toolbox of Getting Out of Debt. But none of those things by themselves – or even in conjunction with other excellent tools – are going to make the difference in that person’s finances. I’m going to tell you the one thing he needs to hear:
You have to want to.
Did I lose you? Don’t go just yet – let me prove my point. How hard is it to set up a budget? It can be kinda time-consuming, but it’s really not that big of a deal. Is the debt snowball method too complicated for average folks to understand? Not at all. What about eating at home instead of eating out? Really, in the grand scheme of things, that is not that big of a change. So why don’t people do this common-sense stuff more often? Why don’t they just get out of debt already?
The reason they don’t get out of debt is because they don’t really want to. Sure, your friend will say, ” I’d like to be out of debt,” or “I wish I was out of debt.” He might even give you a positive “One day we’ll be there!” But they don’t really want it. Until their mindset changes about debt, no financial advice you give a person will make a bit of difference.
It’s like a garden. You can just toss a few seeds on top of the dirt and hope that one day you have some plants, but until you’ve really prepared the ground, mulched, and fertilized, you’re not going to see any real fruit. People are the same way. You can start spouting financial facts and ideas at them (like throwing seeds on the dirt), but until they’re really ready to hear it, their behavior won’t change.
So, if that friend came to me today and said, “How do I get out of debt?” I would answer, “You have to want it.” Once they want it badly enough, they’ll figure out how to make it happen. Period.