7 Steps to Go From Being in Debt to Financial Freedom

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As an individual deeply in debt, I know something that many financially secure people may not — getting out of debt is not about math.

Math makes sense. Math is relatively uncomplicated and logical so it would be awesome if getting out of debt was just about math. Unfortunately, it’s not.

Getting out of debt, so you can build your dream business, is all about perseverance. It’s about hitting your debt goals hard all day, every day!

Math will get you through about three months of debt payment before you start backsliding, because what you really need is the motivation to keep going strong!

To stay motivated when it’s difficult, you need a swift kick in the butt every, single, day. Take it from me, perseverance will take you further than math ever could.

So how do you motivate yourself to keep going?

1. WHY do you want to get out of debt?

We all know that paying off debt takes discipline and hard work, so why should you care?

Personal finance is personal, so each of us has something different that makes us want to get out of debt.

For me, not only am I sick of forfeiting the majority of my paycheck to creditors, I want to build my own business, travel guilt-free and start a family in the next few years.

For you, maybe it’s so you can buy a house, open a business, or retire early.

It doesn’t matter your reason, just find the motivation to start and propel yourself towards your debt-free goal. Then write it down! Keep it in your wallet, preferably wrapped around your credit card.

2. Get mad. Really mad.

Guess what? That thing you decided you wanted in Step #1 — you can’t have it! Why? Because you have too much debt and aren’t financially stable.

Your debt is holding you back from what you want. Are you mad yet? You should be! Your debt won’t allow you to live the life you want.

Getting mad is the only way you’re going to slay your Debt Monster. You need to absolutely loathe your debt and make it your enemy. If you have an ounce of hate or anger in your body, you should be directing all of it at your debt load.

3. Attack debt with a vengeance

I’m not one for condoning violence, because 1) violence is never the answer, and 2) there’s no way I could hold my own in a fight. But I’m making an exception here — I want you to violently “attack” your debt.

Don’t start kicking and punching your bank statements, you’ll look like a psycho.

Instead, use your greatest weapon, cash, to beat it down. Throw all your extra cash at your debt and watch it shrink down to nothing. You WILL win this fight!

4. Arm yourself to win

Is your debt still not going down fast enough? No problem! Let’s free up more cash to take it down!

There are two ways to free up more cash — making more and spending less. It’s that simple! Any strategy you use will involve one or both of these.

So how do you do this?

  • Make more: Put in more hours at work, take on a second job, freelance, babysit, become a brand ambassador, scour Craigslist for one-off gigs, sell crap you aren’t using, do odd jobs, or open up an Etsy store. It doesn’t matter, just do whatever it takes to increase your income! Sacrifice your time now, so you can reach your goal of freedom.

  • Spend less: Cut out non-essential spending, limit your shopping and eating out, hand wash instead of dry cleaning, DIY where you can, buy used instead of new, pack lunches, brew coffee at home, find free/cheap activities in your city, cancel subscriptions, or start using public transportation. In other words, get more creative! There are so many ways to cut your expenses, so just try a few and see the savings add up.

5. Don’t give up

The first few weeks or even months of debt payoff are really easy. You are mad, you are motivated, and you are determined.

Unfortunately, the wind in your sails will go out after a while. This is why you need CONSTANT MOTIVATION. You need to remind yourself why you want to be out of debt daily.

Visuals are a great way to keep things in perspective. You already have your biggest desire wrapped around your credit card, but let’s make it bigger.

6. Try a motivation booster

Hang a poster board somewhere in your home where you will see it every day that says, “MY DEBT IS KEEPING ME FROM _________”.

If you are creative, you can spice it up with graphics and magazine cutouts, like a vision board. The point is that it serves as a constant reminder of what your debt is keeping you from accomplishing.

Getting out of debt requires motivation every single day and you won’t be perfect all the time. I can pretty much guarantee you will lose sight of your goals once, twice, maybe twelve times, but that’s okay.

Just keep going back to it! Keep reminding yourself of your end goal, and that your debt is holding you back from what you really want.

7. Find a supportive community

Getting out of debt is hard enough, but when your friends and family don’t understand, the battle can feel even more difficult. This is where having a like-minded community of support is key.

You can’t get out of debt alone! You’ll have questions, bad days, small wins and times when you want to give up, but the people around you can keep you on track.

If you join a community of people going through the same thing, they can become you biggest allies. Don’t know where to find a supportive group? Try the Careful Cents community and get the encouragement you need!

Remember — figure out what you want instead of debt, get mad, start attacking your debt, increase your cash flow by making more and spending less, and keep going even when its tough.

You’ll get through this and so will I. Let’s get out of debt and into financial freedom!


  1. Debt Busting Chick says:

    Hello! Just came across your blog on twitter and I think it’s great. This post really writes home to me. I’ve just begun my debt repayment journey and I’m totally worried about running out of steam. Right now I’m so aggressive towards paying off my debt but I think I may get bored of being on such a tight budget for the next few years. My aim is to be able to earn an additional income so that I can get out of debt quicker and become self employed by working from home one day.

    • Carrie Smith says:

      Hey Debt Busting Chick! I can definitely relate to what you’re going through. When I aggressively paid off my debt for just over a year, it was tough and I wanted to give up many times. Having a supportive community (like ReadyForZero — which I joined during that time) was vital for my success!

      Additionally, earning more income like you’re doing is a great way to get out of debt faster and reach your dream of working for yourself one day!

  2. Travis Pizel says:

    To be successful in getting out of debt, you also have to be ready to make changes. Wanting to get out of debt and being ready to make the necessary changes are two very different things. Until someone is ready and willing to change their life – to spend less, see friends less (maybe), buy less stuff…..they will likely not be successful.

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