Get Out of Debt: Common Characteristics of Those Who are Successful

Although I’ve made improvements over the past few years, I haven’t always been considered much of a patient person.  I’ve always tried to work hard and am usually overly anxious for results.  But you may agree in most things success doesn’t come over night and solving big problems doesn’t occur instantaneously.

I think the same can be said about overcoming money issues and paying off debt.  Quite often people want the quick fix or to see their debt reduced to zero, but it just doesn’t work that way.  There is much more work involved than many want to consider.

Unfortunately, when someone realizes they have a problem with debt, it’s usually a problem that’s taken a long time to create.  The problem has grown so large it’s difficult to see around it and heavy enough to finally care about solving it.

So, if paying off debt is not going to happen tomorrow, what does it take to conquer it?  Well, there are a few common characteristics I’ve seen in people through my Money Map Coaching who are successful with paying down debt big and small.  I don’t think it requires special skills or talents.  Anyone can adopt them for their situation.

Characteristics of those who are successful in getting out of debt

Understand the root cause of the debt

Get out of debtIf the debt was the result of impulse buying or a spending problem, it may require looking deep inside to find the reason and dealing with that issue first.  Without solving the problem, it’s likely to repeat itself again.  Those who can find the root cause of their debt (greed, fear, carelessness, etc.) and deal with it turn their situation into a learning experience and avoid making the same mistake twice.

Humbly accepting of help

Why go at the problem alone?   Those who can put pride or embarrassment aside and say:  “hey, I want to deal with this thing and I need your help” are well on their way.  A coach, such as a Money Map Coach, can help with creating a spending plan that includes a plan within to pay off the debt.  Beyond the planning, a coach can help in identifying the root cause of the problem, but also provide accountability to staying on track.

Focus monthly

Looking at all the payments it’s going to take to pay off the debt can be overwhelming.  Once the plan is in place, it’s great to keep in mind the debt free day (remembering your purpose), but I think it’s better to keep the focus towards staying on track each month.  Small goals lead to achieving big goals.

Avoid temptation

Don’t make the problem larger than what it already is today.  For debts that take longer to pay off, there will be temptation faced along the way.  The temptation may be as a appealing as purchasing a TV with 0% interest, but it just adds further payment obligation and increases the total amount of debt owed.   The people who are serious about getting out of debt ignore these temptations.  They avoid situations in which temptations are dangled before them.

Adjust if necessary

This is a tough one.  Being willing to make some adjustments or delaying certain plans may be necessary.  Perhaps it requires the delay of purchasing a home, or even downsizing (depending on the size of the debt).  Yes, some situations do require a major adjustment.  The more money that can be applied on top of the minimum payment, the faster the debt repayment process will work.

Seize opportunities

This characteristic is for those who are aggressive at paying of their debt.  They look for opportunities to make extra payments using every penny they can.  They work an extra few days per month, use work bonuses, or money from tax returns to make extra payments.  The pinch pennies which can add up to reduce debt pay off by months, or years if large enough.  They are constantly looking for the next opportunity to save or earn money so the extra amount can be applied to their debt payment plan.

As I mentioned, anyone can adopt these characteristics.  No special talent or skills required.  What do you think about them?

About Jason Price

Jason Price is a family man saved by grace, passionate about faithful financial stewardship (1 Cor 4:2 NIV), soccer and the Pacific sun.

  • Matt Bell

    Great post, Jason. I once had $20,000 of credit card debt and you’re exactly right when you advise people to focus on staying on track each month. When I would think about how long it was going to take to get out of debt, it was overwhelming sometimes. But I knew that if I kept hitting the monthly goal of the amount I was committed to paying, eventually I’d be out of debt. It took four and a half years, but since then I’ve never had any debt except a small mortgage. Thanks for a great summary of the key steps needed to get out of debt.
    .-= Matt Bell´s last blog ..Extreme Makeover: Budget Edition =-.

    • Jason

      Matt, thanks for sharing about your situation. I know it will help encourage other readers who may be in your situation. I’m glad to hear you were able to accomplish your goal of becoming debt free as well as staying out of debt!

  • Broke by Choice

    These are great characteristics to focus on. I would like to add “Do things with purpose and intention”. Several people I have chatted with kinda sorta worked towards their goals in a way that make me feel like they HOPE to get out of debt or build an emergency fund. If it happens for them then they will be happy and if it doesn’t they will kinda sorta keep doing what they have always done.
    .-= Broke by Choice´s last blog ..Is Christmas gifts worth jail time? =-.

    • Jason

      Broke by Choice, good point. I appreciate you adding that one because total committment is absolutely necessary. Hoping to pay off debt is not a strategy!

  • Ryan @ Planting Dollars

    It’s a bit like eating an elephant… you can only do it one bite at a time.

    You bring up good points in the post, mostly reminding people that there’s nothing glamorous about getting out of debt or heading towards financial freedom. Just hard, persistent work that takes years to accomplish.

    I think creating goals that require certain dollar amounts to save for and realizing you can have fun and hobbies that are free, help people focus on what matters rather than just buying “stuff” to amuse themselves for a short period of time.
    .-= Ryan @ Planting Dollars´s last blog ..Happy Holidays =-.

    • Jason

      Ryan, you bring up a good point that I think helps people deal with the temptations around impulse buying. If there is some “fun money” already built into the budget people can still feel like they can spend some money on themselves from time to time while also accomplishing their goals.