One of the things I always tell people about debt is that there isn’t any secret to paying it off quickly. There’s no magic method that will make your debt disappear. No secret tricks that will crush your loans any faster. And you probably shouldn’t count on someone else paying your debt off for you.
In the end, paying off debt really just comes down to a single basic principle. Live on less than you earn and use what’s left to pay off your debt. The more you have left to pay towards your debt, the faster it’ll be gone. It’s really that simple.
As I’ve been thinking about this topic some more, I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe I was wrong. In fact, there is a secret way to pay off debt. And if you do this, I guarantee you’ll pay off your debt faster.
What’s the secret to paying off your debt fast?
You have to be a weirdo!
Debt Isn’t Weird
Having debt these days isn’t a weird thing. Take student loans, for example. Around 70% of millennials graduate with them. And this is probably even higher for those of us who went after professional degrees. Indeed, according to Student Loan Hero, around 40% of the $1.3 trillion of outstanding student loan debt is attributable to graduate student loans.
Your average lawyer now graduates with around $140k of student loan debt. Your average doctor comes out with $161k of student loan debt. And holy crap did anyone see that there’s $1.3 trillion of student loan debt floating around out there!?
What this means is that debt is totally normal for the vast majority of people. We’ve got folks with great income potential graduating with a mortgage worth of debt. Then they go on and live normal lives with their big incomes. Throw in a mortgage. Throw in some cars. Add a bunch of stuff that you buy to fill up the house and the closet, and suddenly, you’ve got bills coming from all over the place.
This is how a family ends up doing perfectly fine, but never really getting ahead. This completely normal family will just keep working to afford all the stuff they’ve bought.
And it’s not a shameful thing for this normal family to do. We all have debt, after all. It’s totally normal!
You Have To Be A Weirdo To Pay Off Debt Fast
So why is being a weirdo the secret to paying off debt? Let’s look at the basic formula for paying off debt.
Most people will have problems with both squares. Their income might be too low. Their expenses might be too high. Consequently, that circle to the right of the equal sign just won’t be that big. And if it’s not that big, then that debt will linger.
To get that money circle bigger, you have to get weird! Sure, you could make a ton of money and have that income square be huge. But for most people, when income goes up, expenses go up too. Think about anyone you know that makes a ton of money. They probably live in a huge house and drive a nice car. Now imagine if that same person lived in a modest house and drove a normal car. You wouldn’t think they’re being normal, would you? You’d think they are being weird.
I always like to look at Ryan Broyles as an example of a guy who must be a total weirdo. He’s a former NFL player who made millions during the course of his short career. Instead of spending it all as most NFL players do, he voluntarily chose to live off $60,000 per year.
For a majority of people, living off $60,000 would be more than adequate, especially since your average household in the US doesn’t even make that much money. But when you look at a guy making millions, it’s a super weird thing to do. Ryan Broyles didn’t choose to be a normal NFL player. He chose to be a weirdo.
Paying Off Debt Is Weird
I recently wrote about how you can pay off debt if you reject the “it isn’t possible” mentality that a lot of us fall into. As I’ve thought about this more, I realize that the one common denominator with anyone who pays off debt quickly is the fact that they’re totally nuts!
I like to look at myself as an example. As I’ve detailed before, I paid off $87,000 in student loans in 2.5 years. Sure, I made a six-figure salary during that time. Negative people tell me that because of this income, my feat was easy. They say that anyone can do this if they made that type of money.
And yet, the fact is, not everyone can do it! The law world is a great place to see this fact in action. At a large law firm – like the one that I was working at – every associate makes the same amount of money for the first few years of practice. We’re all working with the same amount in that income square. Our expenses should have been pretty similar. After all, we all lived in the same city, worked in the same job, made the same money, and almost all of us were millennials without children. If paying off debt was a simple feat to do, then everyone in a similar situation to me should have been able to share this same story.
But that’s not what happened. Very few of my colleagues, if any, paid off their student loans the way I did. Most will keep them around for a decade or more. These folks are being normal big shot lawyers. And normal big shot lawyers aren’t paying off their student loans just a few years out of school. Do you know what they’re doing? They’re living like normal big shot lawyers! They aren’t being weirdos at all.
You Can Be A Weirdo Too
Let’s face it. All of us who are really into personal finance are weirdos. Personal finance isn’t a topic that your normal person cares about, so the fact that we care about this stuff a lot makes us weird right from the start. If you’re reading this, you’ve already got an advantage.
So if you’re paying off debt right now, think about what you’re doing. Are you living like a normal person? If you are, it’ll probably take some time to get through your debt. But, if you’re doing something that really seems out of the ordinary, then you’re on the right track! You understand the true secret to paying off debt quickly is to be a weirdo.
Remember, you have to do something that is extraordinary in some way if you want to pay off debt quickly. Your debt won’t just suddenly disappear if you aren’t taking deliberate action with it. The only way to get rid of your debt quickly is to be a weirdo.