Getting out of debt is incredibly difficult. To do so successfully, you have to make some key lifestyle changes. From cutting down on your spending to finding ways to make more money, these changes can be hard to make, but they can be even harder if your family and friends are not supportive.
Because family and friends are so important to us, they can easily compromise or derail our progress if they aren’t on board with our debt-free journeys. For example, if you have family members who give you expensive gifts for your birthday, you may feel pressured to reciprocate by buying them expensive gifts when their birthdays come around… even though spending a lot of money on a gift would jeopardize your budget.
Similarly, if you have friends who frequently get together for expensive dinners, they may think that, like them, you can afford it. But then you may be forced to choose between seeing them and sticking to your budget.
Friends and family can either tempt you to spend more or be your greatest allies. Here are some tips on how to ensure that those closest to you are a helpful part of your journey to debt freedom.
Help Them Understand Your Debt
Debt is a taboo subject. But it’s critical to tell those who influence your spending about your debt-free journey and why it’s so important to you. Because many of us are secretive about money issues and feel shame towards debt, our friends and family often aren’t aware of our debt and how serious we are about getting rid of it.
Telling others about your debt gives them the opportunity to be mindful of your situation. This way, you can avoid being pressured into spending money whenever you’re together. So instead of inviting you out for an expensive dinner, your friends may suggest a cheaper restaurant or to meet up for coffee instead. It’s also easy to be swayed or guilt-tripped into spending money on the kids. So make sure your children understand that you’re cutting back and why you won’t be spending as much on the household.
Also, if you’re taking on extra work to help pay off your debt, explain this to friends and family so they’re aware that you likely have less time to spend with them.
Come Up with Alternatives Together
When you tell friends and family about the changes you’re making, it’s important to ask them for their help and support. One way they can support you is by helping you create ways to have fun together that don’t involve spending money. This could mean holding a Secret Santa rather than getting everyone gifts next Christmas. Or organizing a potluck rather than going out for dinner. There are many alternatives to enjoy time together with your loved ones without breaking the bank.
Ask Them to Join You
Your friends may also have debt that they wish to pay off, or maybe they’d like to save money for a down payment on a house or for a special purchase. Consider asking friends and family to form a group where you provide each other with moral support and assistance as you try to get out of debt or save money. People generally tend to be more successful when they work in groups to accomplish their goals. The positive peer pressure empowers them to work harder and stay on track.
Talk to Them
If you ever feel like you’re being led astray from your debt-free goals, your loved ones may also be able to provide advice and support. Ask them to be there for you when you’re feeling tempted to overspend. If you have someone you can call when you encounter a problem or potential setback, you’re more likely stay on track and stay motivated.
What If They Don’t Support You?
Surrounding yourself with people who support your goals is key to succeeding in almost all aspects of life, including your debt-free journey. But if you find that someone is not being as supportive as you’d like, try to limit your contact with them during this time or just avoid discussing your debt goals in general. Just because someone isn’t supportive, doesn’t mean you can’t still achieve your goal.
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