Being around the blogsphere now for a couple of months, I often read posts about minimalism and the awesome stories of decluttered lives. While these are some great strategies to bring cleanliness, organization and freedom to your life, I never really considered myself a minimalist.
I rather see our debt free journey as a sudden shift in behavior and emotion with and towards money. The phrase that came to mind was Spartan.
Many of you can identify the qualities of a Spartan thanks to the movie 300. Images of buff, spear wielding soldiers instantly appear (in addition to the debate whether those abs were real or spray painted). What is also known is the dedication and skills for combat that these quasi-godly men possessed.
Spartans were known as simplistic, bellicose skilled fighters. Most of their resources went to tackling the next defense or conquest of their land. As the ultimate soldiers, Spartans were indifferent about material possessions and valued mental and physical toughness above all.
In battle, their training allowed them make the most out of the available resources and to ignore the odds stacked against them, weather conditions or talk by the enemy.
Even though they might not have always liked their conditions, Spartans took advantage of what they did have and exploited those benefits to the detriment of their overconfident enemies.
1. Make the most with what you have
Would you imagine if in the movie, Spartan Joe kept talking about how there’s only 300 of them while the other dudes in tights had three times the amount? More than likely his fellow Spartans would have rather fight alongside 299 other bearded studs and throw that guy overseas.
People love people with a “can do” attitude, and if you’re thinking to yourself, “well I don’t” then it probably means you’re Spartan Joe. So pick up your shield and sword and get to slashing! (Your debt that is).
Waiting for the job that pays more is not gonna change anything! Begin creating better practices with what you have now. The blessings will come, but first you have to learn to manage what you’ve been given.
You need to be a money vulture, picking around every penny you see and throwing it towards your pile of debt or pile of savings.
When we began our debt free journey, I had a part-time job as a full time student, my wife was making just over $34,000 a year, our debt was over $34,000 and we managed to pay it off in two years. Most of the debt was paid before I had a full time job, by the way.
2. Don’t Let Your Situation Define You
Seriously though, 300 against double or triple that number is a safe bet right? Not all the time, that’s why these guys became famous. And those odds weren’t that strange apparently, check out the biblical story of Gideon and his troops!
Whatever place you are in your life right now is the place to start. Zig Ziglar once said that regardless of how big a step you take, what matters is that you take it! You build your future, don’t let other people or circumstance dictate it.
In addition to having an income to debt ratio that was worrisome, emergencies came for us regardless. We were going through the immigration process, and although I always had faith it was going to work, it still didn’t keep my wife and loved ones from worrying about me having the ability to work legally, or even stay in the States.
3. Stick with the Bare Necessities
Part of having a Spartan lifestyle is the ability to get used to the bare necessities. This means that your budget might need to take a couple of cuts. During our debt free journey, we managed to cut out unnecessary expenses like alcohol and organic product.
This means that if taco Tuesday does it for Wednesday through Friday, then you are surely rough in it out for the month with the goal of paying more of your debt. For more strategies on grocery shopping and a budget, click HERE.
4. Develop a Tough Skin
This might be a bit hard for some of you. People’s ability to be unshakable amidst adversity is sort of a gained benefit throughout the years. Others simply need to develop a tough skin. People with a tough skin are usually identified as highly positive, realistic, and brutally honest.
You need some of these people in your life if you truly want to work yourself out of your debt. Fortunately enough, my wife and I ended up being a great team. When I was too scared to put all $9,000 from our savings into our car loan to have it paid off, she was the exact thing I needed to push me into the water and take the plunge.
Much like a Spartan partner in battle, you will need to get away from enablers, negative Nancies, and the sort in order to stay focused on the goal. You won’t get rid of these loans by believing that the government is somehow gonna come rescue you! Time to pick up the sword baby!!
5. Don’t Celebrate Victory Too Early
When the dust settles a bit, you begin to think the war is over. But don’t be mistaken. You are trying to run a marathon, to create a better future so you can enjoy the golden years of your life in retirement. So stop celebrating victory too early.
I know it’s easy to buy flights and go to Cancun for the weekend, and as much as you might think you deserve it, if you’re broke, Cancun isn’t gonna make it easier for you to go back to work and make that money. So get off your horse and start plowing the field so you can enjoy the harvest while everyone else scurries around when the famine comes.
You work so hard, the good times will come, but they can only be appreciated the harder you work. Do not lose motivation and stay the course! The best thing you can do for yourself is to treat this debt like a pestilence and do whatever you can to fumigate it. And remember, THIS IS SPARTA!