One of the most powerful ways to maintain focus and resist the cultural snares of greed and celebrity is to celebrate your victories along your journey of becoming debt free. Soon after I made helping members achieve financial freedom as a church priority, we began public celebrations of individual successes.
Every fourth Sunday of the month, we started pausing during worship to give parishioners the opportunity to share testimonials – bills they had paid on time, loans fulfilled, and credit cards paid off.
At first, people were reluctant to tell their business in front of an entire church full of people. But when individuals experienced hundreds of people cheering after hearing their news of a student loan, car loan, or even mortgage paid in full, others began looking forward to giving their own testimonies. I’ll never forget our celebration when one woman testified that she had finished paying off eleven credit cards!
Even when you’ve made great strides, there are so many temptations and distractions to suck you back into poor habits. Celebrating with others helps them hold you accountable to press on toward your ultimate goal. It reminds you that you have a support network or community and it reminds you of the many reasons to keep moving forward.
When you’re struggling, feeling down or feeling like you just want to give up, you can refocus your mind and change your attitude by planning for your celebration. Get creative!
One church member used to hold a potluck dinner every time she paid off a credit card. Others enjoyed taking supporters out for ice cream or dessert – as long as they stayed within budget. Still others chose to celebrate by engaging in acts of service and giving back to others, like organizing children’s parties or events.
Celebrations don’t have to be fancy and they don’t have to be time consuming. They should, however, be motivating. Research shows it takes six positive affirmations for every negative. If printing out a certificate and hanging it on your wall will inspire you, every time you look at it, to stick to your mission – make the certificate! If posting a message to social media and receiving likes and congrats from your friends is the motivation you need – post often! Getting rid of debt in a culture that promotes credit is a huge accomplishment. Shout it from the rooftops!
It’s important to celebrate so you will stay positive and courageous. Just when we think we’ve learned about all the advertising gimmicks designed to get us to part with our money, marketers come out with new ones. For every friend who encourages us to stick to our budget, we’ll have a few more that tell us what a good job we’ve done so it’s okay to blow the budget. It is not!
In a country that has more than $1 trillion in outstanding credit card debt yet embraces celebrity worship, chances are you’ve spent much of your life in debt. It’s difficult to stick to a path that goes against the grain and can often feel lonely. Yet the rewards are great.
So, find ways, like joining the Billion Dollar Challenge, to connect with others who are also on the path to financial freedom. Celebrate proudly and celebrate each milestone. The investment you make now benefits you, your family and future generations.