Dealing with debt can feel surprisingly like getting caught in a tidal wave. Even if it’s one you saw coming, the ferocity with which it hits, and the amount of effort it takes to keep your head above water can be shocking and overwhelming.
By the time you’ve paid off your last creditor, it’s easy to become bogged down by the exhaustion of the journey and the feeling that you aren’t fully prepared to manage your finances going forward – even without the burden of debt.
If your confidence underwent a beating during the process of becoming debt-free, here are a few ways to reclaim it.
First things first: celebrate your success.
Even if you found yourself in debt due to a few financial missteps, the how doesn’t matter as much as what followed afterwards. And, if you’ve managed to right your ship and get out of the red, that is a successful journey in anyone’s book.
One of the best ways to realize how powerful we are in creating change and establishing positive habits is looking back at how we managed to do this in the past. Deciding you were going to get out of debt, determining how you were going to do that and staying committed to the process means you have the determination and dedication to continue managing your finances in the future.
Just make sure you take a moment to stop and smell those debt-free roses – before allowing yourself to become overwhelmed with what’s next.
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Create a new plan of action
When you spend a long period of time committed to one plan of action, reaching the finish line can suddenly feel like your life has been stripped of all structure. Having a plan creates space to feel confident — you know what you want and you know how to get there.
Now that you’ve slayed the debt monster, it’s time to create a brand new plan of action.
What financial goals really light your fire? What would you like to achieve in order to keep this momentum going? Once you’ve determined what is next on your financial bucket list, create a plan of action just like you did when you decided you wanted to be debt-free.
Come up with a new identity
Throughout our lives, we allow ourselves to be identified by a few distinguishing factors – what we do, where we live, the type of family we grew up in, etc. Debt and money woes can also be something we come to attach to our identity – even if it’s not something we willingly say aloud.
Say, for instance, you’ve been plagued with debt for as long as you can remember. You probably have an invisible script running in your head that says you don’t know how to manage money and you will never be able to get ahead. That thinking needs to be identified and shifted – otherwise it will forever strip you of any confidence you have in handling your money going forward.
It’s time to stop confusing who you are at the core with situations that you have obviously taken great care to change.
You are able to be a smart money manager because it’s a choice you make here and now. Period.
No one is born with the ability to manage their money in the best way possible without any outside help or teaching.
Whether it be schooling from money-savvy parents, personal finance education in school, or simply learning about best practices through reading blogs and websites, everyone needs guidance when it comes to handling money.
Those who constantly seek that guidance are the ones that are the most successful and the most confident when it comes to making decisions regarding their finances.
So start gathering knowledge. Take a close look at what you struggle with and find a resource either through reading or speaking with an expert to get a better understanding.
There is plenty of help out there – you just have to look.
Give it time.
You’ve accomplished something huge by pulling yourself out of debt. Take a moment to look back on that journey and let it sink in.
Shifting out of one mindset into another – i.e. getting out of debt vs. building wealth or a financial foundation – can take some time. And that is entirely ok.