I have a confession. For years I have been terrible about doing dishes. I would eat a meal, and when I was done, the dirty dish might make it to the sink. Dishes typically had a three or four day journey to the dishwasher. By nature I am a pretty clean person, but for nearly 30 years I have been I have been awful about doing the dishes.
A few weeks ago, something amazing happened. I got sick of dealing with the dishes. It wasn’t a conscious decision. I had a huge pile of dishes, washed them all, and said never again. Now I feel this need to make sure they are washed each night before bed. I don’t know how long this new found responsibility will last, but I’m optimistic that it is a permanent change.
The Key to Building Good Habits…
Most “experts” will tell you that it takes about 30 days to build a good habit. That has never made sense to me. I’ll never understand people who feel a “need” to go to the gym or run for 30 miles. Obviously, exercising is healthy, but even if the workout becomes “habit” it is one I can quit anytime I want.
In my experience, the key to building good habits is getting fed up with the alternative. I got sick of dealing with a huge pile of dishes in my kitchen. It is a small thing, but I have spent years dealing with the consequences of putting them off for a couple of days and now I refuse.
Back to Student Loans…
I think the same concepts apply to student loans and personal finances in general. It is easy to ignore your loans. The bills pile up, or the collection calls roll in, so you pay just enough to get your lender off your back. Then some time passes and you are in the same mess again.
Clearly, some people don’t pay their student loans because the decision is about food on the table vs. keeping Sallie Mae happy. However, for many, lingering student loan problems are a result of ignoring your debt. This message is for the people who know they can do better, but for whatever reason, they let their debt fester.
The problem with ignoring debt is that, like the dishes, it continues to accumulate each day. Interest and late fees require constant attention or they will bury you.
How do you fight back? Decide once and for all that you are sick of dealing with student loans. Paying late fees sucks. Paying interest sucks. The only way to fight these demons is to attack them consistently and aggressively.
If you have the financial means to succeed, and you decide that failure is unacceptable, your debt will be history before you know it.