Everybody wants to live debt-free. Yet few actually manage to achieve this goal, particularly in today's world. Credit cards, student loans, mortgage loans - these are all big contributors that block people from leading that rare debt-free life.
However, the people that manage to achieve this feat are not special. They're also not necessarily wealthy or financial experts. What separates them from those plagued with debt is simple: they use the resources they have. Whether they are financial resources or otherwise, they have the mindset and willingness to pay off any debt they incur - or simply avoid it altogether.
These people also weren't necessarily taught from an early age to avoid debt. They have often lived through the experience of having debt, which means they have already felt the stress and anxiety of not being able to pay their bills on time. By suffering before, they have been able to develop the characteristics required to enjoy a debt-free life and ensure they never find themselves in a position where they struggle with money again.
Are you in a position where you're fraught with debt and want to escape this scenario, but are unsure what characteristics are required? Fortunately, you don't have to wonder any longer - this guide has all the directions you need to follow towards debt freedom.
One of the most important characteristics required is to be driven by goals. Those who are fortunate enough to live without debt are fully aware of where they are going - and how they will get there.
As a result, you need to set goals that revolve around money. These goals are specific, time-sensitive, measurable, and ultimately yours. A starter goal, for example, could be to have your debt cleared within the next three months. When that target is in place, you can put together the strategy required to hit the bullseye and make it a reality.
These goals are the foundation for any successful attempt to get out of debt. You organise your financial life around the objectives you set, understanding the sacrifices and changes you have to stick with to achieve your goals.
Go against the norm
Remember: debt is seen as normal. Society tells the world that you require a credit card (or three) to survive in the world. It says you cannot sign up for university without the support of a student loan. It tells people they need a flash car with hefty monthly payments attached.
However, it is time to go against the grain. It is time to follow debt-free individuals who avoid buying into the normality of life.
Simply put, you don't need a credit card to make purchases or pay the bills. You can purchase a car outright and only stick to the usual recurring bills like fuel, insurance, road tax, and so on. Plus, while a degree can be advantageous in landing the best-paying jobs available, you don't have to go the university route - although if you do, it is possible to finance it without the assistance of a loan.
Savvy and self-controlled
Have you ever seen an advert pop-up on TV, advertise something like a blender for half price, and you have instantly thought, "I need to buy that!" Well, those who lead a debt-free lifestyle are too savvy and self-controlled to fall for that type of marketing trick.
Make no mistake: advertisers are great at playing on your emotions. They can make you feel like you "deserve" a fancy new car. They can effectively market their in-store clothing sale that pushes you into making an impulse buy. You might even follow someone on social media that is promoting their fitness guide, where they show what you "should" look like and that it can be achieved by following their expert guidance.
This type of advertising is all around us, whether you're walking through a shopping centre, watching TV, or browsing your phone. However, it is important you can look beyond these marketing tactics and focus on only purchasing products you need - particularly if you're knee-deep in debt.
Someone with self-control isn't swayed into purchasing an item simply because it is on sale or playing to their emotions. They know a purchase isn't going to erase the potential money troubles it could place them in if they don't pay with cash. Those who are debt-free have the patient mindset needed to wait and save.
The ability to say 'no'
When a friend asks you to lunch or your favourite musician is playing a concert in town, it can be hard to say the word 'No'. Yet even though these social situations are ones you want to experience, you must have the ability to turn down certain opportunities when they appear. Even if someone is trying to pressure you - 'Come on, it'll only be one drink' - you have to resist the urge when there's no spare money sitting in your account.
Holidays, shopping trips, bowling, takeaways, nights out, the cinema - those who are debt-free can say 'No' to all of these and more.
Willingness to sacrifice
Extending on from the previous point, saying no to exciting social opportunities is difficult. This is also the same for the likes of premium satellite TV packages, subscription services such as Netflix and Spotify Premium, gym memberships, the latest gadgets, and so on.
To escape from a lifestyle that is compounded by debt, sacrifices are a necessary evil.
Yes, the thought of this can be depressing. You can feel restricted and inferior, especially if it affects other members of your family at the same time. Just remember: there's light at the end of the tunnel. Your strict budget cuts only have to be temporary. When you have eliminated debt from the equation, there's naturally going to be more room in your budget for those sports channels and nights out at the cinema.
Money can buy you opportunities and "stuff", but it cannot necessarily buy you happiness. This is something that debt-free individuals are well aware of, and they take a non-materialistic approach to avoid financial issues. They are content with what they already have and don't place emphasis on buying their happiness.
If you have too much of a materialistic mindset, where you accumulate "stuff" for the sake of it, it's time to do a complete 180 degrees. You don't need all of those pairs of shoes, ornaments, or video games. While possessions may be able to supply you fleeting happiness, they're far from the best source for this job. You should instead derive happiness from experiences and being safe in the knowledge you're financially secure.
It's an obvious characteristic, yes, but it doesn't make it any less important. To maintain a debt-free life, you have to be responsible with your money. When allocating resources, your household needs - such as the mortgage, electric and water bills, broadband, etc. - always have to come first.
Those who are debt-free never take this point for granted. They always work hard to maintain a budget and ensure all true needs fall within it. Only then can they start to look at more non-essential purchases.
To learn how to acquire this skill effectively, you should practice living below your means. The last thing you want to do is live above them - that is why you are in debt in the first place. Go through your entire household budget, keep the expenses that are a necessity, and see which can be disposed of without negatively affecting your standard of living.
With fewer financial responsibilities comes less pressure to cover your bills on a month-by-month basis. Furthermore, if you manage to cut all non-essential expenditures, there's going to be more money in your budget to dedicate to your debt. The result: you can pay off what you owe more speedily.
Confidence not to compare
A confident attitude is a vital component if you want to join a small group of debt-free people. After all, they can display behaviour that is seen as unusual by the public. This can include everything from skipping a holiday for the year, purchasing a car with cash, and not even owning a credit card.
However, debt-free individuals are not concerned about the feelings of others. They are confident in what they're doing, where they know it is the right approach for them and their family's future.
This confidence is also needed, so you avoid comparing lives with others. It is all too easy to see someone on social media or a neighbour flaunting their latest purchase in this day and age. For those who aren't secure in what they have, this flaunting can make them feel inadequate - to the point where they feel the need to make a counter purchase.
When you're on your own journey with clear goals and dreams, comparing yourself to others doesn't become a factor. This means you're not only more content with the life you lead, but you also avoid making any frivolous purchases that can be a serious detriment to your debt battle.