Grit and determination.
When it comes to clawing your way out of money troubles, they’re kind of a big deal. In fact, they’re so important that it’s pretty hard to find financial peace without them.
Around here, we call those two things gazelle intensity. Proverbs 6:5 (NIV) says to “Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.” In other words, make like a gazelle and run for your life from debt, credit cards and anything threatening your financial peace.
In the beginning, when you’re excited, it’s easy to stay motivated. But you can only eat rice and beans for so long before you’re tempted to splurge on that steak. So how do you maintain your gazelle intensity until the very end? Here are five things to try.
1. Post some motivation to your fridge.
If you’re going to stay gazelle intense for the long haul, you need regular encouragement to keep you going when you want to quit. You need vision (Proverbs 29:18).
So first, decide what motivates you: a copy of the seven Baby Steps; the amount you’ve already paid off or how much you have left to pay; or maybe even a picture representing what you’ll do once you’re debt free. Then find somewhere to post it where you’ll see it all the time: your fridge, a bathroom mirror, or your desk at work. Every time you see it, remind yourself of the “why” behind the “what.”
2. Ask someone to keep you accountable.
We’re a lot more likely to stick to our plans if we tell someone about them. So whether it’s your spouse, a friend, a neighbor or a coworker, tell someone you trust what you’re doing. As Proverbs 13:20 (NIV) says, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”
If you’re feeling really bold, announce it on Twitter or Facebook and ask your network of friends to hold you to it! It’s a lot harder to quit when the people you respect and care about are watching.
3. Set good goals.
The best way to make sure you follow through on your goals is to make sure they have these qualities: They’re specific, measurable, yours, time-sensitive and written down. So if you want to stay gazelle intense, set goals for yourself that are actually achievable.
You’re going to stay focused much longer, for example, if your goal is to pay off $40,000 of debt in two years because you and your spouse want a better life for your kids. A goal that won’t have the same effect? To finally not feel stressed about money because your parents are nagging you about your lifestyle. The first one is specific, measurable and time-sensitive. Plus, you can own it. The second one is pretty vague and feels like an obligation. See the difference?
4. Use envelopes and cash.
It’s much easier to stay gazelle intense when you do everything you can to keep the cheetahs at bay. That means you cut up those credit cards, pay cash for everything (or pay with a debit card when cash isn’t convenient), and use the envelope system. That keeps you from overspending, going further into debt, and straying from your budget.
5. Whet your appetite for outrageous giving.
The most fun you’ll ever have with money is giving. And, in Baby Step 7, you’ll have done so well with money that you’ll be able to bless others in crazy ways!
So to get you excited about what’s still to come, start giving. Create a budget line each month for fun giving projects: Leave a large tip for your restaurant server on a holiday when you know she’d rather be home with her kids if she didn’t need the money so badly; buy a bike for the neighbor kid whose bike was stolen and who can’t afford a replacement; or surprise a new mom and her family by having dinner delivered to their house. Get creative!
Once you figure out which tips work to keep you motivated, there’ll be no stopping you as you work toward financial peace. So find the gazelle intensity deep within you and get going!