All this week, Consumerism Commentary will be featuring guest bloggers. In this post, NCN from No Credit Needed hearkens back to elementary school fire safety seminars and applies the familiar mantra towards debt. In addition to his main blog, NCN manages the No Credit Needed Network and the No Credit Needed Podcast.
Many of you will recognize the phrase “Stop, Drop, Roll” from your elementary school fire-safety classes. Every year, one of the local firefighters would come to my school, and talk about what to do in the event that my clothes caught on fire. I was to STOP what I was doing. I was to DROP to the floor. I was to ROLL around to smother the fire. I have forgotten many of the things that I learned in elementary school, but I will forever remember the phrase “Stop, Drop, Roll.”
I bring this up because many of you are on “fire.” You are in debt “up to your eyeballs,” you are afraid, and you don’t really know what to do. May I suggest that you “Stop, Drop, Roll.”
Stop whatever you are doing and THINK about the direction of your life. Two years ago, I realized that I had bee working for 14 YEARS and that I had a negative net worth, $11,500 worth of debt, and less than $500 in the bank. I had to STOP what I was doing and deal with the situation. You cannot change directions without first stopping to turn around.
So, I DROPPED what I was doing. I decided that I would discontinue the behaviors that were causing me to go into debt. I would drop borrowing money, drop using credit cards, drop living without a plan, drop arguing with my spouse about money, and drop ignoring my finances. (If you were on fire, wouldn’t you DROP whatever you were doing to deal with the fire? YES!) In the firefighters’ example, I was the one who was supposed to “Drop.” In our example, the extraneous bad habits that are sapping our strength get “Dropped.” Imagine that you are going to run up a hill. Is it easier to run up the hill unencumbered, or with a 50 pound sack of rocks tied around your waist? I had to DROP the behaviors and the attitudes which were “tied around my waist.”
Now that you have STOPPED to think about where you are, and DROPPED those things which were holding you back, you are ready to ROLL. I will use myself as an example. Two years ago, I had $11,500 worth of debt. Today, I am debt free. I had no savings, now I have a fully-funded emergency fund. I was not saving for retirement or college. This year, I plan to save 60% of my gross income. How did all of these things “happen?” I stopped to consider where I was, I dropped my bad habits, I turned around, made a plan, focused, found some accountability, and began to ROLL in a new direction. Once you decide to change your future, and to be INTENTIONAL about your decision making, you can see dramatic results.
NCN says: “I’d like to thank Flexo for allowing me to contribute this guest post. I’m a HUGE fan of his blog and he’s always supported my sites. Personal Finance Bloggers ROCK!” You can read more about getting out of debt and spending wisely at No Credit Needed. NCN will also be hosting the Carnival of Personal Finance tomorrow morning!
Updated August 9, 2011 and originally published April 1, 2007.