March 15, 2010
by Debra Bacon
By Debra Bacon
Simple is better
Family time and simpler lifestyles are winning out over consumerism these days. Considering the shaky economies around the globe, individuals and families are scaling back on their spending.
With rising unemployment figures and uncertain futures, people are strategizing their escape from the prison of debt. By paying off debt, reducing discretionary spending and opting to save money, materialism is losing its grasp on society.
Taking charge of your debt and deciding to scale back your lifestyle requires change. Change is rarely comfortable. Difficult decisions and sacrifices must be made to accomplish your goals.
Following are some tips to help you take charge of your life, finances and lifestyle.
- Determine what you want to change about your financial picture and lifestyle. For example, you may want to be debt free within five to seven years; you may have a desire to grow your own food, or become a stay-at-home mom or dad.
- Set reasonable goals and timeframes to reach your dream. Strive for specific milestones leading you to your overall goal. This allows you to see your success in smaller chunks, as you chip away at the whole.
- Assess your current financial picture. Determine how much overall debt you have and to whom it is owed. Calculate your monthly income, and compare the differences of inflow versus outflow.
- Set your first milestone as complete. Knowing the state of your affairs will relieve you of an amazing amount of stress. Realizing you are working to take charge of your circumstances is huge.
- Make a list of each creditor and the amount owed them.
- Define a plan that allows you to pay more toward the smallest balance first, until it is satisfied. Continue this pattern until they are all knocked out, or at least well on their way.
- Reward yourself in some way for your diligence as each milestone is reached. Perhaps you have not been out to dinner in months as a part of your effort to scale back; this may be a reward you agree is reasonable, for example.
- Stay focused on your plan and you will achieve your desired end.
Living the life
As you downsize you will find there are things you no longer have need of. It is important to determine whether you will sell these items or donate them to charity.
Depending on your goal, a move may be in order. Transportation may change, and jobs/roles may shift, or be redefined. Yet as you scale back your lifestyle, you will enjoy more free time and experience a healthier life.
Stress is responsible for many major health conditions and diseases. Often, we are unaware how much we are affected by stress as we struggle day-to-day to make ends meet. Moreover, social stress, such as the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality can lead to a tremendous amount of peer pressure. This type of pressure can lead to depression, even death, if we perceive we have failed.
So, start living the life, take charge of your life, as you begin your journey to scale back.