One of the biggest financial pitfalls out there is debt. When you have debt, your money really isn’t your own. Others have claim on it, and you are required to pay those obligations. Additionally, instead of using your money to your advantage, you are stuck paying interest to someone else. Instead of helping you build wealth, you are paying interest straight into someone else’s pocket.

Many of us hate debt, and the feelings that accompany being in debt. Many of us say that we want to pay off our debts, but do we really mean it? Buckling down and paying off debt means that you have to make sacrifices, and that you have to change your habits. Ask yourself if you are truly committed to paying off debt:

Are You Willing to Put the Credit Cards Away for Awhile?

I’m not saying that credit cards are evil, and you have to cut yours up. However, if you want to pay off your debt, you have to stop digging the hole deeper. This means you can’t see credit cards as a “backup.” Too often, we make progress paying down the credit card debt, only to get in a bind, and pull out the card and use it “just this once.” The result is that the credit card debt starts to inch a little bit higher, and progress on debt repayment is slowed.

Instead, you need to put together an actual budget, and a debt reduction plan… and stick with it. Put away the credit cards for a while, and get your finances straight. Don’t use your credit cards as a fall back plan. That will result in a continuation of the cycle. Instead, put the cards away, and make a budget that works.

What are You Willing to Give Up?

If you are truly committed to paying off your debt, you need to give something up. Remember: Many of us end up in debt because we’ve been interested in instant gratification, and buying things that we want. It seems easy to pay for them because of the relatively low minimum monthly payments. However, the debt adds up, and we don’t pay off balances.

Those who really want to get rid of their debt need to recognize that some things need to be given up. Look through your expenses, and consider whether you really need the premium cable, two or three cars, all that stuff cluttering your home, and the weekly dinners out at restaurants. Take a close look at what you have, and what you can give up. You can sell your stuff, cancel subscriptions and memberships, and eat at home more. If you are willing to give up some of these things, at least for a little while, you can pay off your debt quickly.

Can You Live a Different Lifestyle?

Once you get rid of your debt, though, you aren’t done. You need to determine whether or not you can live a different lifestyle. Can you create a spending plan and live within your means? You either need to make more money, or make permanent cuts to your spending. You need to save up for purchases, rather than making them on credit. Unless you are committed to changing your ways, you will just end up with more debt again.

Tom Drake

Tom Drake

Tom Drake writes for Financial Highway and MapleMoney. Whenever he’s not working on his online endeavors, he’s either doing his “real job” as a financial analyst or spending time with his two boys.