As part of back to basics month, let's use today to explore how you can get out of debt without gimmicks or games.
After twelve years of reading and writing about money, I've come to believe that debt reduction ought to be a side effect and not a goal. Getting out of debt is a target, not a habit. And, as we've been discussing recently, good goals are built around actions instead of numbers. If you restructure your life so that you're spending less than you earn, you will get out of debt. It's a natural side effect.
Having said that, I realize that a lot of GRS readers are struggling to get to square one. Getting out of debt is their goal and primary obsession. That's okay.
Before you can begin repaying your debt, you must be earning a profit. Unless your income exceeds your expenses, your debt is actually increasing. If you’re continuing to add debt, or if you’re only able to make minimum payments, you must first find ways to spend less and earn more until you have a positive “saving rate”. (Both businesses and people earn profits. But when individuals earn a personal profit, we call it “savings”.)
After you're earning a personal profit, you can (and should) make debt elimination a priority. [Read more…]