Being debt-free is fabulous. The freedom of never having to pay creditors is a far cry from the dread of opening a credit card statement.
People who are debt-free have developed certain habits and consistently implement those practices to ensure they never fall into the debt trap again. If you’re serious about getting out of debt, these habits and traits are worth emulating.
11 Habits of People Who Are Debt Free
1. They Pay Attention To Their Money
When the bills come in, or their bank statement arrives, instead of throwing them into a pile they open it and review the contents for accuracy. They understand the importance of paying attention to the details associated with their money.
Because they pay such close attention to their money, they’re not wasting money on late fees, overdraft notices or money leaks like gym memberships that have been canceled or magazine subscriptions they stopped long ago.
Paying attention isn’t really that hard. Just make a commitment to open your statements and looking at the details and you’ll be ahead of the game.
2. They Live On Less Than They Make
Whether they make 50k or 250K per year, they live within their means.
Living within your means requires you to accept where you are in your life, and be content with what you already have. It’s when you’re discontent and begin to desire what you can’t afford that you get into trouble.
Because they’re aware of what they make and are committed to living within those means, it allows them to have the money necessary for savings, investments and other goals they may be trying to reach.
3. They Don’t Use Money To Fill Unmet Needs
Feelings of discontent, like envy, jealousy, or unhappiness lead many people to spend well above their means. Learning to live on less also means not using money in ways that fuel this desire to spend money to feel better or worse “to keep up with the Jones.'”
If you’re always preoccupied with what others have that you don’t, and then you fuel that preoccupation with shopping, you’re in a dangerous trap because no amount of stuff is going to rid you of those feelings.
Only through self-reflection and a greater understanding of what might be missing in your life, will you be able to stop using money in this way.
4. They Save
I love to save money. In the past I never saved, and my mother would often comment that “I spent money like a drunken sailor.” She was right.
Now, with a new understanding and appreciation of money, I enjoy putting money into my savings and investment accounts. It gives me great pleasure to see the balances go up and know I have a solid financial plan.
Start saving even if it’s only $5 a month. Every little bit counts and you’ll start enjoying the rewards you get for saving money.
Read: The Joy of Saving
5. They Demonstrate Self-Control
In short, they know how to say no to themselves and others.
You don’t have to accept every invitation to go out to eat, and you don’t need every pair of shoes you spot at Macy’s. Learning self-control and the ability to say no is a crucial habit every person whose debt-free had to learn.
It didn’t come easy for me, but eventually, I realized it was in my best, long-term interest to prioritize how I spent my money. As a result, I learned to say no to the things that just weren’t on my spending plan. Over time, I said no more and more frequently.
6. They Have A Long-Term Plan
When you set goals and have a plan of action developed, it’s easy to stay on track. When you don’t, well, it’s more difficult because you don’t know where you’re headed. You’re just floundering around, trying to figure it out without a plan of attack.
When I got out of debt, I had a plan. Today, although I don’t have credit card debt any longer, I still have a plan for what I want to accomplish financially. I make every effort to stick to the plan because I know the plan is solid and in my best interest.
7. They Use Cash
If you want to adopt just one habit, please start with this one.
Converting to cash is the one action you can do that will dramatically change your relationship with money and your spending habits.
When you go to a casino, the reason they convert your cash into plastic chips is to “disconnect” you from your money. No one in their right mind would gamble away all the money they do if they were using cold hard cash. But the casinos understand that by having you use chips, it removes the emotional attachment. You now are free to gamble away without much thought to what is really happening.
Credit and debit cards do the same thing.
Convert to cash and see the difference it makes in your spending.
8. They’re Willing To Learn
Don’t understand you’re taxes? Debt-free people learn about their taxes, so they are making informed decisions.
Not sure about what investment strategy will work for your family? Debt-free people are willing to sit down with an advisor and figure it out.
Debt-free folks are willing to do their homework and get informed. They don’t leave it up to others to make the important decisions. They learn as they go if they have to, but ultimately they take responsibility for their money and seek out the education they need to ensure the decisions they make are the right ones.
9. They’re Not Afraid To Be Proactive
Debt-free people actively look for ways to cut costs and save money. They’re not afraid to call the cable company and seek a better deal. They search for opportunities on an ongoing basis to save where they can. They don’t leave it up to chance.
Like the list so far? Get the reminder checklist to help you become someone who’s debt free!
10. They Prefer Stress-Free Over Stress-Ful
At some point, all folks who are now debt-free came to their breaking point. They were sick and tired of debt, creditors, the constant phone ringing, the pit in their stomach, the dread, fear and stress associated with debt.
Now, debt-free folk live stress-free lives. They’ve eliminated all of the worry and angst, and now can enjoy life on new terms – terms they established and are comfortable living by.
11. They Prefer Relationships Over Stuff
When you get rid of all the hassle that debt creates, what’s left is an opportunity to develop and enjoy your relationships.
Stuff is just stuff, and it can never be a replacement for meaningful relationships with others. Debt-free people realize this and work at cultivating stronger ties with the people who matter most to them.
Individual who are debt-free can be a great inspiration to others who are trying to get out of debt and change their financial circumstances. These habits are not difficult to implement, but they do require a level of dedication and commitment.
If it seems overwhelming, start with just one habit and don’t add another until you feel the habit has become second nature. Eventually, you’ll embrace all the habits and start down the road to great financial freedom, stress-free living and a debt-free lifestyle.