In the first part of this series, I highlighted the financial mistakes that I made as a young man right out of college. Within 6 months I racked up a total of $45,724 in debt. It was these mistakes that led me to implementing my Debt Survival Plan.
In this post, I’m going to go over the basics of my Debt Survival Plan:
- Make more money!
- Take control of debt.
First step – Making more money
I started with making more money, because I had a very basic money problem. My recurring bills where just too much of my monthly income. My living expenses were not exuberant, so just reducing expenses wasn’t going to fix my issues. I needed to make more money!
My need to make more money is why I started working in the HVAC trades. Keep in mind, I worked for a scientific laboratory and environmental testing company before becoming a HVAC Tech. So, for most, that may not make sense.
“How can you make more money working as a tradesman than for a professional company?”
The answer is “performance pay” and “adding value”
Working for an HVAC company gave me my first opportunity to work under performance pay. The concept was super simple.
More money = more closed jobs at a higher average ticket
I liked that concept. It was a very simple way to go from a flat salary, or hourly pay, to a system that encouraged me to work harder and smarter, and it worked!
Within 6 months, I was on pace to make $30,000. That’s a huge jump from $21,000.
That pace continued to grow, and in my first full year in the trades, I was over $45,000. Not too bad for a 23 year old in West Monroe, Louisiana.
By my second year, I was over $65,000.
In my third year, I had earned the opportunity to be a partner in the business. I was now killing it! The CPA of the company even asked me the following question,
“Do you know that you will make more money than the owner this year? Why?”
So, I fixed my money problems. I kept the cars. I paid my bills on time.
Now to be clear, I didn’t kill it out of the gate. I actually thought I was going to be fired. My sales sucked in the first 3 months. So, my pay jump didn’t happen just because I “willed” it into place. I had to work hard for it. I had to increase my skills. I had to create a system that worked for me. I will tell you about those skills, and that system in the final post. First, I want to tell you about taking control of your money.
Second step – take control of your debts
Dave Ramsey was the mentor I needed, when I needed him.
His show played on the local station in West Monroe (where I started in the trades.) His voice coming over the station was literally life changing. He taught me things as I drove. His wisdom is obvious, but not often implemented. Simple things like,
“Live on less than you make,” “Tell your money what to do,” and “Save money for your emergency funds.”
One of the most important things he taught me was,
“Lottery winners are broke after a few years, because you can’t give money to people that don’t know how to control it, and expect them to keep it.”
I needed to hear that lesson, and live it. This is a critical piece of life knowledge. Life is like the stock market. You will have ups and downs. If you live like there will never be downs, you will spend like there are only ups. That will bite you in the butt if you are not paying attention.
7 keys to controlling your debt
- A Prosperity Mindset – you will not win at money if you think any of the following things: “Money is Evil. Money is not for me. People with money are crooks. I can’t win.” I know this is hard, so I’ll do my best to describe it – You can make temporary changes through decisions. You make forever changes when your thoughts are forever changed. You must change your mindset.
- A Budget – This is simply a month by month plan that tells your money what to do. You can get some cool links over at our post – Surviving After Summer
- A Debt Free Plan – This is a long term budget that forecasts the time needed to become 100% debt free. This includes your house and all possessions. Just to put it into perspective, it took Shannon and I 14 years to work our way to 100% debt freedom.
- Savings – When the emergency hits, you will need money to survive. As Dave Ramsey suggests, you should have $1,000 in the bank for emergencies. Then, save at least 6 months of living expenses. Can you imagine how this would reduce your stress?
- Guidance from Wise People – Mentors are critical to your success. Some mentors are paid, and some are free. Good ones are always worth the investment in time and money. Go find wise people that are living the life you want to live. Ask them questions. Learn from them, and for goodness sake – DO WHAT THEY SAY!
- A Supportive Spouse – Shannon has always been there to keep me focused. I love her so much. She is my wisest council, and biggest cheerleader. Others may be able to do it without a supportive spouse, but it is much harder without one. I believe it would be better to be single than to try do life with a negative person. If you don’t have a supportive wife, then work on it. Marriage is hard, but worth it.
- Make More Money – This will not go away. If you have a tight budget, you will need to make more money.
I have experienced the ups and the downs of money. In 2010, I was forced out of a partnership. You could say I was fired. This firing came after several years of putting in time on a start-up, and earning much less income than I had become accustomed to earning. After the dissolving of my partnership, I was earning no money. Yet, I survived and thrived because of my ability to control debt and make more money.
In the final post, you will get the system that I use to make more money
It is the same exact system that I teach HVAC Techs, Salespeople, Plumbers, and Electricians.