Being in debt sucks. Ask anyone that’s in debt. Nobody plans on getting into debt. It’s an emotion thing that we do. We don’t logically get into debt. This is why I hate logical approaches to debt. They just don’t work. It’s worthless advice.

I wanted to share some practical tips to help you trick yourself into staying debt free.

How can you avoid debt at an early age?

Reward yourself for saving up for big purchases.

Why would anyone want to wait to buy that flatscreen? Waiting sucks. Delayed gratification is boring. I agree. The problem is that putting that $1,000 tv on your credit card means that you might get stuck paying it off for years and losing tons of money on interest. Is the tv really worth it?

Since debt is more emotional, I suggest that you reward yourself whenever you save up for a big purchase. What I do is I save up aggressively when I have a big purchase coming up (trip, new electronic, or anything else). Then when I finally save enough money to pay off the purchase, I treat myself to something else. Once I saved up all year for a trip and I treated myself by throwing in some new clothes.

By rewarding yourself for good behavior, you reinforce the idea that you should avoid debt.

If you can avoid putting the big purchases on your credit card, you’ll be ahead of the game.

Don’t get a credit card if you’re not ready.

I often promote responsible credit card use because that’s how you can build your credit at an early age. However, building your credit is completely useless if you get into debt.

You’ll never have strong credit when you’re late on payments and owe thousands of dollars.

If you’re not ready for a credit card, then don’t get one.

Apply the 30-day rule.

Have you heard of this rule? It’s pretty simple. When you want something, wait 30-days. Write it down. Think about it. Sleep on it.

After a few days, you’ll realize that you really don’t need that purchase.

Work a part-time job.

I know that life isn’t all about working all of the time. However, I’vc noticed that when I work more, I save more money. Having a part-time job in college forced me to work harder, make more money and prevented me from going out on random weeks. The issue is that we can’t rely on willpower because we’re just not programmed like that. All of us are susceptible to marketing and mistakes. Sometimes you just have to get yourself out of a possible situation and force yourself to stay busy.

When you’re busy you don’t have time to walk around the mall aimlessly for hours. You have to get your work done and focus on what matters. At least that’s the goal.

Avoiding debt an early age is key. You’ll open up a whole new whorl of possibilities if you say no to debt and focus on your savings. I’ve been able to avoid consumer debt/student loans and as a result have been able to pursue my own ventures. Freedom is priceless if you asked me.

Martin Dasko

Martin Dasko