I was asked about a week ago, what I think keeps people from 'taking the plunge' when it comes to really working hard to get out of debt.
So, here is my answer. Remember, most of this is my opinion and I don't think everyone has to live the way we do--although I would highly recommend this program!
The bottom line, how motivated are you to meet your financial goals? We have been trudging along our getting out of debt journey for our whole married life and it's exhausting, stressful, and VERY limiting. When we'd look at our income vs our bills each month, nearly all our money was accounted for because of all the bills we owed. It's so disappointing and then it forces you to put things on credit cards because you have other expenses that come up, creating another debt cycle and the hole gets bigger! We never have had the credit card debt, but we were always stressed about what our credit card bill would be each month and we'd just pray we had enough money to cover it! If we didn't, we'd end up taking money out of savings, setting us back on goals we'd had for that money. The constant money stress just got to be too much and we came to a point where we were DETERMINED to end the misery--sooner then later! That was it. That's our motivation. We want to be DONE with having all our money accounted for each month, going to other people and causing us endless amounts of anxiety and stress each paycheck! We don't want every decision we make to come back to money. 'Do we have enough money for that?' 'How much will that cost?' 'We have to have jobs that make X amount of money or we can't pay our bills.' 'We can't quit X job, because we need the money.' You get the picture. It was the story of our lives and it's exhausting. It's also very depressing and limiting. We were sick of it and wanted out from under the bills!
So, we got to work! We have decided that being extra strict with our budget and making temporary sacrifices was better then always living with the financial stress. The great thing about getting out of debt is that there is an end in sight. You know that the way you are living isn't forever. So it's easier to give up on some of the 'extras' you love, because you know you'll have them back soon. If you go in with the mindset that the harder you work, the more you save, the more you put on debt, then sooner you'll be free and the sooner you'll have your life back, it's so much easier to get started.
Again, I ask, how motivated are you? How tired of being in debt are you? How much do you want freedom from your bills? How much do you want to have a say in how you spend YOUR hard earned money? The answer to those questions, will determined how motivated you are and how willing you are to give up things temporarily for the long term benefits.
We went in with the goal of getting out of debt, but we're already seeing the benefits of this budget. Yes, it has been HARD to stick to our really tight budget. There are things we really want, but we can't have right now. But I know even after we are out of debt we will still live on a cash budget (with hopefully some larger amounts!! ;)) because it has relieved SO much stress. We are communicating better about our finances and what we need to save for, how much things cost, how we will pay for things that are coming up, etc. We don't have the anxiety about bills coming in the mail that we can't pay for. We haven't taken money out of savings to cover our expenses. We've only taken things out for the reasons we've set it aside. We are in control of our budget and can change it whenever we need to. We have a say in where our money goes. It's awesome! On top of all that we are making huge strides on our debt and only have one bill left!
It's really a personal answer to what will help some one take the plunge, which is why I'm sharing our story as an answer. Every couple will tackle it a little differently, but for every story I've heard the results are amazing. I'd recommend you listen to The Dave Ramsey Show on Fridays, where he lets people call in that are recently debt free. They have amazing stories and I literally tear up each time I hear them. I'm so excited for them and it keeps me motivated to stay the course, so we too can scream, we're debt free!
I hope this motivates you! Maybe at least enough to sit down and have a conversation about figuring out your 'essentials' and start eliminating things that don't fit that category--remember it's TEMPORARY! You are in control of the time frame too, the more you cut and the harder you work, the shorter the time frame!