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167 Removing the Roots - Part 2: Getting out of debt

January 20, 202113 min read


Despite your best efforts, does your debt feel insurmountable and ever-present? Much like with weeds in a garden, if you don’t get the roots out, you will end up in debt again.

Following on from my last episode, ‘The Road to Poor’, this week I tackle the three roots of debt, and how you can go about getting rid of them!

Because truth be told, financially free people have NO debt. You too can be financially free...

Show notes:

  • [01.09] Removing the roots

  • [03.47] I Need

    • Debt that is unavoidable, I talk about the best way to prevent it.

  • [06.29] I Want

    • The key difference between Rich and Wealthy

    • The 3 questions you need to ask before you get into debt again.

  • [11.56]  I Deserve


"Debt is truly like a weed that takes over and strangles our life." - Lisa Linfield

"Like all weeds, it doesn’t help just to take out the debt, the things you see on the surface… if you don’t take out the roots (or the way you’re thinking), you’ll get into debt again and again and again." - Lisa Linfield

"One of the key decision criteria of humans is Status. People move towards an increase in status, or away from a perceived decrease in status." - Lisa Linfield

"Your behaviour always reflects your thinking first." - Lisa Linfield

"If you want to remove the worry of money, change the way you think about debt." - Lisa Linfield

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Hello everybody and welcome to today’s episode of Working Women’s Wealth.  I’m Lisa Linfield, and I’m creating a community of women passionate about making sure that their money works for them to create the life they dream of for themselves and their family.

We started last week with our series on debt, and if you haven’t listened to it, I really recommend you go listen to part one, The Road to Poor.  I discussed the hidden costs of debt – not only the fees and penalty fees, but also the most important one, the opportunity cost.  What you’re not able to do because you’re so busy paying your hard-earned money for the bankers to sit on the beach.

This last week I’ve spent a huge amount of time in the garden of our new home.  We bought our home from a master gardener, but over the last few years, she went blind, and so the garden was very overrun with weeds, and the roses were in huge need of pruning.

I know absolutely nothing about gardening, but I do know something about weeding.  I find it very therapeutic as it really is a Short-Term Hit of Happiness as I describe in my book, Deep Grooves.  You get a patch of garden out of control, and in an hour or two, it’s looking beautiful.  It’s really satisfying!

One thing I have learnt over the years though, is that if you don’t get the roots out, you will end up in the exact same situation again and again.  And it always amazes me how quickly weeds grow – way faster than real flowers.  Another thing that amazes me is how sneaky they are in plonking themselves right on the real flowers, making getting rid of their roots difficult as they’re highly entangled in the flower you want to keep.  And as I’m not a gardener, It also amazes me how pretty some weeds can be – things I think are proper pretty flowers are actually weeds, strangling the flowers as they take the space and nutrition of the flowers.

It got me thinking about debt, and how debt is truly like a weed that takes over and strangles our life.  It starts out innocuous with a little, and over time we get so used to it being in the garden of our life that we think it’s meant to be there and is okay.  But it’s actually killing off the good things and taking up space of things that SHOULD be there – like the wealth and prosperity we all should have.  And, like all weeds, it doesn’t help just to take out the debt, the things you see on the surface… if you don’t take out the roots, you’ll get into debt again.

So let’s look at the three roots of debt

1.       I Need

2.       I Want

3.       I Deserve


I Need

I need is the most understandable reason for getting in debt.  As I said in the last episode, No debt is Good Debt, not even housing debt.  But ‘I Need’, is truly once off debt because an emergency has happened – but is totally preventable.

Most often people get into emergency debt because there’s been a

·         Medical Emergency – someone in your family has become ill, and you need to pay for medical expenses either if you don’t have health insurance or the expenses are above what your insurance pays for

·         Something’s gone wrong with your house or car – like a geyser burst or the engine packed up, or the roof leaked, and it’s not something you can put off… either because your car gets you to work, or the leak in the roof will damage your home

·         You lose your job – and you now don’t have the income to pay your expenses.

This kind of debt I truly understand, and over the long term, I don’t worry as much about it as the other two roots of debt, as it’s situational and not a habit.

The best way to prevent this is to make sure you begin an emergency fund of 3-6 months expenses.  The minute you finish paying back the debt, keep putting at least that amount of money each month into a money market account until you’ve saved 3-6 months of expenses.

And if you’ve lost income suddenly, Listen to episode 126 – What to do when your income’s suddenly dried up.

I Want

When I do financial planning with my clients, we always divide expenses between Needs and Wants.  At the end of the day, if you haven’t saved enough money for retirement, you will only have enough (hopefully) to cover Needs… and that truly focuses your minds on the difference between Needs and Wants.

I did have a client who, when I asked about an expense in the Need Category said… I guess if I’m honest, it’s a Want…. But I want to Need it!!!!!!

When it comes to debt, that “I Want” is usually because “I Want it NOW!!!”… related to instant gratification, and convenience.  Instead of saving for what we want, delayed gratification, we buy it on credit so we can get it now.

Think about the cell phone you’re holding right now.  It truly blows my mind how the industry and The World Out There has programmed us that it’s totally normal to get a new cell phone every two years, and to buy it using debt.  That cell phone contract that gets you to pay each month for 24 months is in fact a debt contract, and you end up paying far more for the phone than what it would cost to pay for it cash.

But it’s also furniture, clothes, holiday’s and parties that gets put on the credit card, or worse, the store card with a higher interest rate and more fees. 

When I dig into why people buy things they can’t afford to pay cash for now, the answers are so interesting.

·         My friends do the same job that I do, and so if they can afford to have the phone, so can I

·         We need new clothes because otherwise my wife’s family will think I can’t afford things

·         We can’t have a new house without furniture now

·         People will think we’re poor

·         What will they think?

·         I want to look nice, and the dress is nice.

One of the key decision criteria of humans is Status – people move toward an increase in status, or away from a perceived decrease in status.  The problem with status is that it’s relative – relative to the people you hang around with.  What I think is high status would be low status to someone who has ten times what I have and hangs around with the Hollywood crew.

And the problem about judging the people around you, especially work or the school crowd, is that we actually have NO idea what they really have.

And this is the key difference I talk about between Rich and Wealthy.  Rich is show and tell – things you see.  Most often that fancy car is owned by the bank, and that new cell phone is owned by the network provider.  Wealthy people have money that goes into investments that generate income when they sleep.

So that woman who has the latest iPad may stay awake all night wondering how she’s going to pay the school fees, and that person who drives a tiny car may have so many investments she may never need to work despite choosing to.

If you want to remove debt out of your life for good so that your money can grow and grow while you sleep, then you will need to remove the deep roots of your reasoning for debt.  Your behaviour always reflects your thinking first.

So here are 3 questions you need to ask before you get into debt again (and practice by going back to your past debt and asking yourself these questions).

·         What am I telling myself about why I should get this?

·         Do I want to look rich or BE wealthy?

·         How does this support my values and vision?

That last question is so important.

As I mentioned in Episode 147, The Powerful Insight of your Bank Statement and Calendar, I can tell you exactly what you REALLY value by looking at your bank statements.  If you are saving nothing for your future, but spending a ton on clothes then you value image more than independence, and, as harsh as it sounds, my value it more than the stress you will put on your children when they have to pay for you in retirement.

So have a deep vision of your life, and your values, and then spend your time and money on getting there.  As I said in the last episode, have something you really want as the currency you translate each spend into.  So if your value and goal is to spend more time having fun with your family, then say “that cell phone is actually a weekend away, or the first day of the weekend away”. 

Make it real, and the first step is becoming aware of your thinking on this.

If you’re paying off debt, you’re paying for others to sit on the beach.  Debt makes your income, the results of your hard earned work, a slave to someone else.  Choose to be free, and then commit to that choice.

 I Deserve

The last 50 years have seen a dramatic shift from the post war ethic of working hard for every tiny thing you have – a sense of working hard first, then enjoying life later in retirement.  A prizing of independence, never needing to rely on anyone to provide for you and your family.  Now, there seems a worldview that life is here to enjoy NOW, and that we deserve nice things and to have what ‘everyone else’ has.  Now.  Our kids are still dependent on us at 30 – they deserve to have nice things now.  And now our parents are dependent on us too – and they feel they deserve it because after all, they spent their money on you.

I remember first having my eyes open to this in corporate.  One of the finance team and I were talking about not being able to stick to personal budgets.  So I asked him if it was his wife who overspent.  He paused and thought.  “No,” He said, “she seldom ever asks for more money”.

“So it’s you then that’s going over budget.”  You can imagine that was an uncomfortable question.

“What was your last out of budget thing you bought”.

“An iPad he said”.  And after pausing he said “But damn it, I deserve it, I work so hard”.

I think often about that conversation as it was so insightful.  My friend is an amazing, frugal, generous, humble person.  So it illuminated so significantly this challenge we all face – between instant gratification (I work hard, so I should have nice things now) and delayed gratification (if that money goes toward your investments, you will have the retirement you deserve).

The other day I was introduced to an interesting concept – that of Rights, Needs and Wants.  We’ve discussed Needs and Wants.  Rights are what’s enshrined in most constitutions or bill of rights.  The right to freedom of speech, the right to clean water, the right to protection.  The point a psychologist was making was the way our society has shifted.  Things we wanted are becoming Needs, and things that were needs, we feel are now rights.  Underpinned by a feeling that we deserve more, are entitled to more – that others should provide for us.

Now I personally believe that all of us CAN live a great life now AND in the future.  But there is only a finite amount of money available.  And anything we spend money on now is taken from money we could be investing to make money for us when we sleep.  It’s unfortunately that simple.

So, like when you wake up at 70 and you’re unhealthy and overweight and struggling with many lifestyle diseases is a result on the many decisions you’ve made every day through your life… living a great life now AND in the future, and not just now, relies on you making decisions to prioritise what you spend on – spend that reflects your values.

And, as your investments begin snowballing and generating lots of money, then the amount you will have available to spend on now AND the future becomes more and more. 

But you can never have wealth, investments that generate income, while you’re paying off debt and keep getting yourself into more debt.  Most people in debt have been in and out of debt for a very long time.  You’ve gotten used to having debt, a bit like you get used to the number on the scale, and as your debt creeps up, you get used to having more debt.

Friend, I need to tell you that financially free people have NO debt.  None.  No short term debt, and they don’t use debt to finance houses and cars.  So if you want to remove the worry of money, change the way you think about debt.

I’m going to be launching a new training course on debt in March – so if you want to be part of the first group to do it, please do go to the show notes of this episode and sign up for the waiting list.  I’ll be working with a small group of people in person, so make sure you get on that waitlist!

Have a great week everyone – I’m Lisa Linfield and this is Working Women’s Wealth.

Lisa LinfieldChristian MoneyPodcastBusiness OwnerEntrepreneurdebtget out of debtblowing the budget
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Lisa Linfield

Lisa Linfield is on a God-given mission to free 1 million women from the weight and stress of money. She's a CFP, founder of a wealth management business, and podcast host of Working Women's Wealth

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