Conquering Your Financial Giants: Five Steps to Start Tackling Your Debt

In a world where the cost of living steadily climbs, the economy ebbs and flows, and expenses multiply like bread loaves, it’s no surprise that the average American is wrestling with a debt of $96,371. Even among Gen Z, the fresh-faced adults, debt averages a striking $16,283. These are daunting figures to balance and overcome.

When facing the fiscal challenge of budgeting, balancing expenses, saving, and all the other financial tasks that can tie us in knots, the thought of initiating debt repayment can be paralyzing.

In our personal journey, we spent four years laboriously conquering a $127K+ debt. Looking back, I wish we had embarked on these five key strategies much earlier:

1. Ignite the Belief that You CAN Overcome

While you may desire diagrams, specific plans, or even an easy escape route, the real key to success lies within your mind. Sure, you require a concrete strategy to banish debt, but if you don’t earnestly believe you can defeat it, you never will.

I’m reminded of Neil Gaiman’s paraphrase of a G.K. Chesterton quote: “Fairytales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Consider your debt as your dragon. Know that it can be conquered. Trust in God, the Master of the Universe, to guide you through the labyrinth of what may seem an insurmountable challenge.

2. Banish the Notion of an Easy Escape

Speaking of an easy way out… there isn’t one. Be skeptical of those touting effortless three-step programs or balance transfer schemes—any method that sidesteps sacrifice.

Debt elimination is about making gradual adjustments over time and maintaining a firm resolve. It’s not about the dollars in your pocket but the transformation of your habits and mindset.

3. Acknowledge Your Missteps

The spiritual dimension of debt cannot be ignored. Our hymns echo with imagery of our debts paid through Christ’s sacrifice. When we owe, we essentially relinquish control of our lives to another party.

It was a hard pill for me to swallow, admitting that I had overstepped by spending what I didn’t have, to the point of financial burnout.

Embrace your missteps, seek forgiveness where needed, and embark on a new trajectory of earning, giving, debt-defeating, and responsible spending.

4. Get a Grip on Your Budget – Immediately

Paying off debt requires you to get your financial house in order. You must have a firm grasp on your income, your debts, and your living expenses.

Don’t procrastinate on this crucial step. Use an app, an online service like mint.com, Quicken, or even the old-school method of pencil and paper—whatever you need to get a detailed understanding of your finances.

Awareness is key, even if it’s initially frightening to see your financial reality painted in red. Every epic battle requires a strategy.

5. Lean on Others for Help

Tempted to follow financial advice from someone in the pits of poverty? That’s a surefire path to failure.

We were not designed to journey alone—community is crucial. When you’re navigating through debt, you need the insight of those who have tasted financial success or are on their own journey to recovery.

Consider enrolling in a church-based money management course (like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University or Crown’s Journey to Financial Freedom). Find a supportive online community. Speak your financial fears out loud. Let others intercede in prayer for you. Seek a tribe that will lift you up when you stumble and cheer you on when your spirit flags.

Remember, personal finance is deeply personal and intrinsically emotional. Reorienting our mindset and the orientation of our souls is as critical as cutting expenses or drafting a spreadsheet. Don’t neglect these vital steps, whether you’re beginning your debt repayment journey today or tomorrow.