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7 Habits of People Winning the Fight Against Debt


Guest post from Jamie of Medium Sized Family:

Have you ever gotten to work and suddenly realized you zoned out while you were driving? It might make you panic a little bit… and it also shows how a habit you practice every day can be ingrained in your subconscious.

Habits are powerful. Like Zig Ziglar says “Motivation gets you going and habit gets you there.”


Finding the motivation to dig out of debt is one thing… continuing the dig until you reach the end is another.

In my opinion, people who win the fight against debt have a few habits they’ve put in place to stack the odds in their corner.

Here are 7 habits of people winning the fight against debt.

1. They have SMART goals.

Having a generic idea of what you want is NOT the same as putting a SMART goal into place. Your goal should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timed.

2. They learn.

The fight against debt is a big struggle. Arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can.

Read books on getting debt free, listen to podcasts, subscribe to blogs that motivate you to get out of debt or promote frugal living, print inspirational and relevant quotes and leave them where you’ll see them daily.

3. They have an accountability partner.

Find a friend or family member that will cheer you on and remind you why you’re doing this when it gets hard.

If you can’t find anyone, turn to Facebook or find a frugal online forum to join. Sometimes just committing to post updates once every other week will keep you accountable.

4. They give more time than money.

We believe it’s important to continue giving money at church, even when we are getting out of debt. But think of all the other places that ask you for money.

Perhaps a friend is in need or the school is asking for donations. Consider ways to help them out by using your time rather than your money. This has a double benefit. First, it allows you to pay off debt. (Imagine how much better you can help them when you’re debt free). Second, it occupies your free time, limiting temptations to spend.

5. They choose the important.

In this life, it’s easy to overlook the important for the urgent. It’s tempting to choose now over later.

People eliminating debt form a habit of pausing to consider a choice. Most things seem important now, but in the long run, they aren’t worth the bonds of debt. For example, you might feel pressured to buy your child an amazing birthday gift right now… but a few months down the road, you’ll most likely wish you would have put that money in savings and gotten your child a less expensive gift.

6. They plan ahead.

People are sometimes in debt because they failed to plan ahead. Life sneaks up on them. Sudden “emergencies” (like Christmas presents or a quick meal) become credit card debt.

The habit of planning ahead in both small and large matters will save you a ton of money. It’s cheaper to grab a cooler of water on your way out the door than to buy drinks while you’re out. Open an account to save for an upcoming bill rather than using credit cards with high interest rates.

7. They say no. A lot.

Our family has gotten into the habit of saying “No.” We do it so often that we’ve dubbed 2016 the #yearofno.

Decide that the answer is no (unless you can find a convincing reason to say yes), and you’ll save tons of money.

Most of us have a habit of justifying purchases. We bend over backwards to say yes whenever possible. Reset yourself to saying no by default. You’ll find that only the truly important things make it through that screen.

These 7 habits take time to develop, but they’ll carry you to debt freedom. Just as habit helps you to get to work “automatically”, establishing good life habits will help you travel the road all the way to debt freedom!

Jamie Jeffers instilled the #yearofno in her home, and now her family is finally kicking debt to the curb. To help you fight against debt, too, she created a free mini course called Identify and Destroy Your Budget Busters. Learn more on her blog, Medium Sized Family.

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  • Jenna says:

    The last one is oh so true especially for woman , we are raised to be pleasing, so we learn to serve. We have to learn to save for our future too. When we need a tooth filled or a bone set it will be a bill in our names down the line no one else. So we better have the money to cover our needs . A husband could be gone on to heaven and we need to know how to do for ourselves first . Learn to say Yes only after you have said YES to yourself . Otherwise say NO until you learn to say YES TO YOU!

  • Rosanna says:

    Those are some really awesome habits. I think my husband and I have put many of them into practice over the years. We have been debt free (besides our house) for awhile now, but this getting rid of the house debt feels long these days. Thanks for the reminder of the habits we should have in place.

  • Point number seven is crucial. Frequently we end up spending more money than we wanted because we couldn’t say no to a friend or family member who wanted to go on a trip, or out for dinner or something else that you decided you couldn’t afford. I find it’s best to pre-empt these conversations by telling your friends and family that you are prioritizing killing debt and tell them you are cutting out everything besides the absolutely essential. This can prevent you from feeling bad by having to say no, no, no over and over.

    • Number seven has been the key for us, too!

      You’re so right. It is important to let people know that you aren’t saying no because you don’t want to (spend time with them, etc.). You just have a bigger goal in mind. My friends and family are able to cheer me on instead of trying to guilt me into going out with them because of that.

  • Penny says:

    Great advice. I got out of debt (except for the mortgage) by doing exactly what you describe. The only thing I didn’t do, but I wish I had, is number 3. I did it alone because I didn’t want anyone to know I had debts and I made things much harder on myself. I am now overpaying my mortgage by still following the same rules, including number 3 this time.

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