When you’re up to your ears in debt and making only the minimum payments, it might be hard to believe that you could actually become debt free. But if your intention is to get out from under those revolving lines of credit, you’re in the right place. Today we’re looking at three reasons that clear goals matter if you want to become debt free in 2024.
And…no matter what financial goals you have for this year, the Lemon Blessings Membership can help. This monthly membership offers access to 50+ printable worksheets to help you on your financial journey, as well as an inside look into the budgeting process I use, the exact menu plans I’ve created for my family, our favorite low-cost recipes, and even some helpful grocery lists to get you started. Don’t miss a thing. Join HERE.
Know Where You’re Going
You probably wouldn’t take a long family car trip without first thinking about where you’re going, right? I mean imagine if you piled the kids in the backseat and just drove, with no plan in place. If you had no idea where you were going to stay for the night or how to find the next gas station, grocery store, or bathroom?
If you’re like me, you’re probably cringing at the idea and with good reason. Successful journeys start with an end goal in mind.
Your debt-free journey is no different. If you want to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there, you have to start with an end goal in mind.
Of course, even when it comes to paying off debt, the goals can vary. One person might want to pay off credit card and revolving debt only. Another person might want to be completely debt free (home included). Another person might simply want to eliminate a specific debt – possibly one that has debt collectors annoying them day in and day out.
Whatever your goal is – it has to be clear so that you know where you are going.
Know How to Get There
Once you have your clear goal in place and know exactly where you’re going, you’ll be able to map out the journey itself so that you stay on the right track. Just like a long road trip with your family, you’ll need to break up the travel time to your debt-free destination so that it’s more manageable.
We are actually heading from Washington State out to South Dakota this summer for a family reunion and we had to go through this same process ourselves. The reunion is taking place about 14 driving hours from our home, so we broke down that time into smaller chunks to make it easier on our three year old son. If we expect three days of travel at a little less than 5 hours each day, then we know exactly where we’re going to stop AND we know that we will make it to the reunion as planned.
Mapping out your debt free journey can be done in a similar way. Consider:
- how much debt want to pay off,
- how long you have to pay it off,
- how much you’ll have to pay each month or pay period,
…and whether it’s realistic to do so.
If you have $10,000 in credit card debt that you’d like to pay off by the end of this year, then that means you’ll be paying roughly $900 each month. Is that feasible with your current budget? If not, you may need to adjust other areas of your budget or push the payoff date out a bit to make it possible.
Knowing that, you’ll be able to focus on making those monthly payments (that’s the journey) and reaching your debt-free destination (that’s the goal).
So, having a clear goal in place means that you know where you’re going and you know how to get there.
Measure Your Progress
A clear goal also allows you to measure your progress, see how far you’ve come, and reward yourself appropriately. On the flip side of that, you’ll also be able to note what’s not working and make adjustments as needed.
Of course, we all want to see our journeys take the straight line approach to the destination, right? Yet, I’ve found over the years that it really doesn’t work that way in real life. It’s likely that something will happen to derail you from your journey.
Because things happen.
Because life happens.
But progress is progress. Any step in the right direction leaves your finances better off than they were before. And that’s exactly what we’re looking for.
It’s been over a decade since Justin and I started our debt-free journey. At the time we had student loans, vehicle loans, credit cards, and other miscellaneous loans – all totaling more than $160,000.
Our debt free journey has not been a straight line to success. Justin ended up with lung cancer, we bought a home, we had a baby, a pipe broke, all of our electrical wiring had to be replaced, one of our daughters needed significant and expensive mental health care…and on and on. The expenses were unexpected and despite our best intentions and effort toward debt payoff, we had to use those same credit cards we’d already paid off to cover our expenses.
Even so – the effort we put in early on mattered and we are currently on track to be debt-free by early 2025 (not including our home).
It might not seem too inspiring to think about how long it’s taken us to get to this point, but it’s important to remember that life will happen. Even if you have the best intentions you may find that things don’t work out perfectly and that’s okay. The key is to keep at it.
And that’s where those clear goals matter – so that you know where you’re going, how to get there, and how to measure your progress along the way.
Clear Goals for Becoming Debt Free in 2024
If you want to become debt free in 2024, then you need a clear goal to get you there. Take the time to lay out what you’d like your destination (goal) to be, how you will get there (the journey), and what you will expect as progress by year-end 2024.
The sooner you put this in place, the sooner you’ll see those results!
In the meantime, just know that I’m cheering you on!