How to Fix Your Rotten “Get Out of Debt” Plan
If my title intrigued you, I’ll assume your debt payoff strategy is in shambles.
I’m not surprised if it is. Many people struggle with debt:
- The average person carries $7,800 in consumer debt.
- 33% of this is revolving debt. The rest are loans.
- $51 billion of fast food was charged to credit cards
- Over 2 million households in the U.S. have more than $20k in credit card debt
It seems that many of us are in a never-ending spiral that we can’t escape.
Yet, successful businesses manage debt effectively every day.
Why is it that the same people who make these business decisions so effortlessly during the day come home and make emotionally fueled decisions at night?
That’s easy. They separate their working thoughts about money from their home life thoughts about money.
For some reason, when we reach home, we go from pragmatic individuals who can easily make objective, fact-based decisions for a company, to people who are emotional about their credit card debt and student loans.
I watched it happen for 16 years, but this behavior doesn’t make any sense!
You deserve success in your life. You deserve to have a debt payoff plan that actually works. All that you really need? Change the way you look at debt and your own financial picture.
Think of your own situation as if you were controlling a company.
Here are three crucial differences:
1) Companies manage interest rates and terms effectively, while most people don’t.
The average person says “I want a 15 year mortgage because my house will be paid off earlier than it will with a 30 year loan.” Really? Why is that? You can’t pay off the loan on a different schedule than the bank approves? Companies don’t begin negotiations by asking “when is the loan due” and then try to weasel the term to a shorter duration. Successful companies ask the bank for the longest, most flexible term available and then have their intelligent accountants create and maintain a repayment plan that works best for their goals.
Why do businesses do this? It makes financial sense to find a low interest rate and flexibility.
Why don’t we do it at home? We can’t trust ourselves to stick to the plan. We’ve messed it up so often in the past that we know we’re more likely to be successful if we have someone else do the thinking.
- How would you rearrange your debt if you focused on flexibility and interest rates?
2) Corporations focus on the big financial “game changer” moves while individuals worry about the latte factor and whether they should brown bag their lunch or eat at a restaurant.
Companies will focus time and attention toward negotiating salaries and health care costs to save millions of dollars. An employee stealing a few pencils and some toilet paper are a blip on the bottom line. Yet, the same people who focus on whether to raise the price of goods sold to increase profits $10 million will go home and waste all their time cutting a few coupons to save $4.73. What if they used this time to negotiate a raise or find better employment? That could mean $10k more to the bottom line instead of $4.73!
- What would happen if you focused your energy on major financial decisions instead of the line-by-line budget items?
3) A company makes decisions based on building financial muscle, not based on “feeling good.”
Companies weigh the financial impact of decision “A” against decision “B” and most often choose the more profitable path.
I’ve had clients who are vice presidents of major companies tell me, “I’m going to pay down a 3% loan before I tackle raising my 401k savings.” Why? “I hate having that hanging over me.”
While I appreciate the sentiment, I think this is where you modify the Nike slogan “Feel the fear and do it anyway” into “Feel the hanging over me feeling and do the right thing anyway.” It almost works.
- Why do businesses analyze financial data and growth projections before making decisions? They have shareholders to hold them accountable.
- Why don’t we make growth decisions more often at home? Would your financial picture be better if you thought of your family as shareholders? What would change about your focus?
Imagine a “shareholder” meeting to discuss what you’re doing well and where your “company” needs improvement
- What charts would you show at this meeting? Would you produce information about your projected future? Are these accurate?
- What changes could you make that you don’t make now if you had these?
If you were a shareholder for your company, what would you say about your stock? Going up? Struggling? Why?
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