A guide to debt-free life
Debt-Free Forever: Take Control of Your Money and Your Life, Gail vaz-Oxlade, Global Vision Press, Pp 311, Rs 245.00
If you are to your eyeballs in debt and cannot imagine ever being debt-free, this book claims to help you fix it. Staying mired in misery is one option. Pulling up your socks, dusting off your breeches and getting to work to dig yourself out, is another. You can wallow in your misery or you can work hard. You can whine or make life what you want it to be. Though what the author suggests is not easy but what she suggests for being debt-free is that whether you establish an emergency fund for the first time or make a commitment to live on a budget, it is your approach which can make you successful. Her straightforward approach to money management is based on self-control, hard work and prioritising what’s really important.
Gail gives a clear strategy and the steps needed to implement it. The first step she suggests is to analyse your weaknesses. If you love to shop, you should acknowledge the fact that you should not hang out at malls because it is not conducive to a ‘no shop’ plan. If you love to eat and agree to meet your friends in a restaurant, you are reinforcing your weakness. In such a case, recognise your old habit which gives you pleasure and change your environment so that you aren’t tempted.
Step two is to do one thing at a time. In trying to make things better, you may do too much and in the process, split your energy and wear yourself out. So to be successful, pick something “you want to do differently today and do that thing. Once the new pattern is established, pick the next thing you are going to do.”
Step three is to take small steps. Adopt the ‘baby steps’ strategy. If you are the one to get tempted to buy something you cannot avoid, it is advisable to establish a ‘no shop’ day and gradually ‘no shop Saturday’ can grow into ‘no shop Friday’ also. Small steps can get you where you want, without the risk of sliding back.
Step four is to demonstrate stick-to-it-ness. If you don’t have the persistence to stay on the course, it’s pretty hard to succeed. You have to demonstrate determination. Each step taken by you will create the momentum for the next step.
Step five is to set milestones. Create a map for where you are going and take pleasure from each milestone you pass. Rewarding yourself for achieving one goal to keep moving forward.
Step six is to accept your mistake. If you say something like if you will not get debt-free by Tuesday, you will not try again, then it is wrong because you have to try and learn from your mistakes to move forward.
Step seven is to do your best. If you keep cursing yourself for doing something wrong, then you can’t move forward. Sometimes you will miss but it’s the effort that counts. It’s best to say, “I’ve done my best today. Tomorrow I’ll try again and do my best.”
So if life sucks, you are responsible for it to some extent. If you are determined to change where you are going wrong and exercise self-control, turn to hard work and prioritise what is really important.
(Global Vision Press, 4855/24 Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110 002).