Breaking free from the clutches of debt is one of the most difficult yet rewarding challenges in all of personal finance. So when my good friend Ben from Money Smart Life had an interesting twist on debt he wanted to share, I jumped at the chance. Oh, and he’s a recently published author on the topic, too. You’ll see a link to his new book, Debt Heroes, at the end of the post.
Dorothy, a Kansas farm girl with little attention from her family, had it rough. Because of her troubling circumstances, one day she decided to run away from home. That decision would lead to one of the most profound adventures any girl has ever seen, and it all started with a storm.
Do you ever feel like Dorothy did, wanting to run away but not knowing where you should go? Perhaps your poor financial decisions are chasing you down and debt is eating away at your happiness. What’s one to do? Here are some lessons we can learn from Dorothy. So click your ruby slippers three times, and take the journey with Dorothy toward freedom!
1. “There’s no place like home.”
It took Dorothy a long walk through Oz to find her way home. Have you wandered far from your family and need to find your way back? Getting out of debt is one way you can show your family that you care for their future. Do what’s right for your family and work with them to be free from the bondage of debt.
Yes, that might mean heavy sacrifice. You might need to avoid restaurants, malls, and other places where you could be tempted to max out your credit cards. But believe me, it’s worth the effort.
2. Try something new to melt away your troubles.
The Wicked Witch of the West posed a grave threat to Dorothy and her companions (including her little dog, Toto). Little did Dorothy know that by accidentally splashing water on the witch, she would melt her and find freedom from her grasp. What an unexpected solution!
Brainstorm a few ways you can throw extra money toward your debt. Maybe find a side job or have a garage sale. Try the debt snowball method or new budgeting software. Come up with a list of options and act on your best ideas!
Perhaps you’ve tried to get out of debt before and found the challenge to be plain overwhelming. Don’t lose hope! With the proper motivation and right tactics, you can melt away your debt – just like a wicked witch.
3. The wizard might be a fake – perhaps the answer is found in the journey!
Everyone wanted something. The Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Dorothy all hoped to find those qualities they lacked and believed the Wizard could deliver to them. But Toto soon exposed the Wizard as a fake. Even so, the Wizard offered great encouragement implied that the journey had already fulfilled many of their wishes. Dorothy, in the end, also had her wish granted.
Is there a magic wizard that you believe can help make your credit card debt disappear? Perhaps your wizard is a winning lottery ticket, a debt consolidation loan, or an inheritance that might take years to arrive. Instead of waiting to hit it big, chip away at your debt with purpose and passion. Slow and steady usually wins the race.
4. Visualize the future and one day your debt will feel like a distant dream.
Dorothy, upon arriving back home from Oz, finds out that her journey might have been a dream. Her ordeal was now nothing but a memory.
One day, when you escape your debt, it’ll seem as if it was a bad dream. You’ll be free from payments and reaching ever-higher financial goals. Remember where you’re headed to get to where you’re going! Without a vision for the future, you might become discouraged and stop short. Remember why you’re getting out of debt and know that one day, you’ll awake from the debt nightmare!
5. Tornadoes happen, so prepare.
Once you’re out of debt, remember that tornadoes happen. Too many people slip back into debt because they don’t prepare for the next storm.
When you’re out of debt, what will you do to proactively prepare for the next storm? Try building an emergency fund. Save up enough money to pay for expenses for at least three months. Some even have enough money in their emergency fund to last them a year or more!
You’ll need an emergency fund in case you lose your job, have major medical bills, or encounter some other unforeseen circumstance. Prepare, and you won’t get stuck outside of the storm shelter when the tornado blows your way. Poor Dorothy.
You can get out of debt. You can secure your homestead. You can prepare a better life for you and your family. Take the journey and find a way out of debt. You’ll make it, now go!
To read more about 21 people who survived their own twisters of debt look up the new book Debt Heroes, put out in conjunction with the Debt Movement. Collectively the “Heroes” featured in the book paid off over $1.7 million in wicked debt.
Ben Edwards writes about personal finance at Money Smart Life and is one of the authors of the Debt Heroes book.