Debt is the biggest cinderblock on the road between you and your financial freedom. Once you get into debt, digging yourself out of it can be a complicated process. As much as you try to pay it off it may seem that only more continues to pile up.
Confidence is like a dragon, where for every head cut off, two more heads grow back.Criss Jami, Venus in Arms
Debt is like a monster, one that you see in your nightmares and keeps you up at night. If a debt was to take the form of a monster, I think the best representation of it would be a Hydra dragon. The Hydra is a monster from Greek mythology, the monster has multiple heads and probably scared a lot of children back in the day.
In today’s world, I honestly can’t think of what would be scarier; having a massive load of debt with high interest, or a Hydra lurking in my backyard. But one thing that I do know is that they are both very dangerous and scary in their own right.
Thus, by merging the two of these calamities into one concept, we get the Debt Hydra, a monster truly scarier than anything the Greeks had faced.
So, What Is a Debt Hydra?
The burning question inside your mind must be, “What in the world is a Debt Hydra?” Well, it’s good that you ask this because it means that you’re interested in both finance and mythology.
These interests help add a bit of imagination to your finances. If we were to combine two entities like finance and mythology, the merger will bring about a change in how you view debt.
Finance and debt are quantitive measurements, but their enigmatic nature can be depictable in the behavior of the Hydra.
Now, what exactly is a Debt Hydra? Well, to explain what a Debt Hydra is, we must first review the origins of the Hydra.
- Lernaean Hydra is a monster from Ancient Greek mythology.
- Hydra’s appearance is that of a dragon serpent-like creature with multiple heads.
- Hydra’s heads can regenerate, sprouting a new head when one is cut off.
- In ancient Greek mythology, Hydra is slain by the legendary warrior Hercules.
So, now that you know what a hydra is, allow me to explain to you the parallels that this mythological monster has with your debt.
Debt is money that is owed by someone to another person or entity. Debt causes so much pain, stress, and fear to people that it can be similar to how the Ancient Greeks felt when they faced a monster like Hydra.
What makes debt so difficult to get rid of is that it takes time and requires you to sacrifice other areas of your life. This results in people seeking alternatives to paying off debts which ironically prolongs their payments by adding more to it.
People that get into debt typically get into more debt for various reasons:
- People don’t know how to manage their money.
- Debt is more common today through the usage of credit cards, bank loans, student loans, and medical loans.
- Debt is difficult to pay off because people typically have more debt than what they make annually.
Since we are on the topic, let’s use Greece as an example. Greece is a small country in Southern Europe that got caught up in some major financial problems earlier this decade.
When Greece became part of the EU, it did so for political reasons. The financial consequences of letting such a small country into a synched European currency was not considered.
The Greek GDP today is around $200.3 billion, the debt they owe to the EU is around $400 billion.
Their debt is around double the market value of goods and services produced by the nation. For a country to pay this off, austerity and budget cuts are enacted to redirect capital towards their debt.
Essentially Greece was put on Dave Ramsey’s rice and beans method for the next 60 years!
Now of course, how a country pays its debt differs from how an individual pays it off, but the premise is similar.
It’s both extremely difficult and will take a sacrifice of some kind to make it work.
The Debt Hydra
Now that we got all of that out of the way, you should have somewhat of an idea of what Debt Hydra is.
To be a hero like Hercules and pay down your debts instead of making them worse, you must go for the core problem and not the result.
Just like how Hercules defeated Hydra by avoiding its heads, you must attack your problems head-on, instead of seeking a shortcut.
The core problem is what caused your debt in the first place. You wouldn’t have any if it weren’t for the decisions you’ve made in the past.
The heads of Debt Hydra are a manifestation of how you wrongly try to pay down your debt. Your actions only cause more debt to pile up; it’s like a never-ending cycle causing you nonstop stress and anxiety.
Here’s what Debt Hydra’s heads are composed of:
- Paying off debt to get into more debt– If Hydra were real and you tried to kill it by chopping off its heads; you might as well also try and pay off your student loans with a credit card. You are attempting to pay off your debts but in reality, all you are doing is causing more debt to accumulate. Your debt should be paid only with the money you have and are sure you can afford to lose.
- Continuous Spending– You are in debt, you owe money to either the government or to your bank, and you want to buy a new car? I’m sorry everyone but that is just wrong. You can’t be in debt and spend money on things you can’t afford. It doesn’t make any sense and it will only postpone your financial demise and even add to it. Continuous spending can involve anything from:
- Financing a car
- Spending money on alcohol
- Going out to Eat
- Going on Vacation
All of these are luxuries that people in debt cannot afford to spend money on. If it makes you feel better, getting out of debt will mean you’ll have more money to spare. Once you have more money, you’re free to pursue the above without the lingering cloud of debt over your head.
Common Types of Debt
- Credit Card
- Student Loan
- Car Finance
- Mortgage Loan
- Taking Out A Home Equity Loan to Pay off Debt– This one is like the first in that you essentially are replacing one debt with another. This is a horrible idea and will not only cause more debt to accumulate but you also risk increasing the interest on your other loans.
- Falling For Debt Relief Programs– Certain debt relief programs are made to seem like an easy way out but in reality, they are a lot harder than directly paying off debt. Even if they do keep the promises that they make to you, the amount of time and effort necessary to complete them makes it fruitless. You are better off paying down debt through your efforts.
- Neglecting Your Emergency Fund– Your emergency fund is where you store the money that will come to your aid when an unexpected issue occurs. You can’t predict when you might get sick or injured, things can happen and it’s better to be prepared. Life is unpredictable, car accidents, breaking your leg, getting a random illness: anything can happen to you at any time. Without your emergency fund, medical bills will start to pile up and you may even be in more debt than you were before.
- Paying Off Debt Alone– Remember when I told you that Hercules defeated Hydra? Well, that wasn’t exactly how it went. You see, Hercules called on his nephew, Iolaus for help in defeating the beast. While Hercules would cut one head off Iolaus would torch the wound to make sure another wouldn’t grow back. There is no shame in receiving help with your financial problems, plus once your issues are solved, you’ll have the resources to pay back whoever helped you.
Defeat Hydra and Be Debt Free
To defeat the Debt Hydra and remain debt-free for the rest of your life, you must take the time to carefully plan out your financial strategy.
The types of strategies you can use to handle your debt will differ, but there are a few approaches that you need to focus on.
- Focus on One Debt At a Time
- Create a Solid Budget
- Increase Your Income
- Change Your Habits
- Sell Unnecessary Items
- Get help from friends and family
- Watch Dave Ramsey
Once you figure out how to execute these strategies, your debt will start to disappear and the evil Hydra will, at last, be put to rest.
Focusing on One Debt At a Time
Focusing on one debt at a time will give you the confidence to focus on your other debts. You should consider the smallest first, then make the minimum payments towards your larger debts.
- Credit Card $100 (Small)
- Pay as much as you can
- Car Loans $5,000 (Bigger)
- Pay off with the minimum, repeat
- Medical $10,000 (Large)
- Pay off with the minimum, repeat
- Student Loans $50,000 (Extra Large)
- Pay off with the minimum
- Stop, You Are Debt Free
The greatest thing you get from this strategy is the psychological boost. Together, your debts may seem like an insurmountable challenge for you to overcome; but if you pay them one at a time with the smaller ones first; you’ll have more motivation to go after the larger ones.
The official name of this strategy is the snowball method. It’ popularity is a testament to how effective it is. If you follow this method, your odds of being financially free will significantly increase.
Create a Solid Budget
A good budget is essential in defeating the Hydra-like monster that is eating away at your net worth. Sit down for a few minutes and take the time to put your budget in writing. Once you’ve done that start applying it to your daily life.
The most important areas of your life to a budget are:
- Entertainment– (Not a necessity and can be a big expense)
- Food– (Focus on cooking and not eating out)
- Transportation- (Avoid car payments, buy a cheap car and only use it when you need it)
- Housing– (Find a place you can afford, consider multiple roommates if necessary)
- Education– (Try to avoid taking out loans)
If you create a budget for everything above, you will be one step closer to paying off your debts. Doing this will require a significant lifestyle change but remember what I said before: Hydra can only be defeated by attacking the body of the beast, the core of your problems!
Increase Your Income
This step is one of my favorites because I think it gives an individual more motivation to work towards. Thinking of paying debt is not something that will help you get up every morning.
But when you make increasing your income a goal then you have a lot more to look forward to.
Trying to increase your income can be productive and fun! Just like how Hercules sharpened his sword to kill Hydra, your goal is to sharpen your skills so you can boost your income.
To increase your income, you must focus on investing in yourself.
- Educate Yourself
Education is your most important weapon against the Debt Hydra. If you had a sword, it would be your education. Educate yourself so that you can be competitive in the job market and make more money.
- Leverage Your Skills To Find a Better Paying Job
Use the skills that you acquire through your education as leverage towards finding a job. The more skillful you are in a certain industry, the more money you can make in your career.
- Leverage Another Skill and Get a Side Job
Now that you have a good job and are making a solid income, why stop there? Keep using your skills to find another job on the side. This extra income will be extremely beneficial to you and will significantly increase the time it takes to pay off your debt.
The more money that you can keep coming into your pocket, the less serious your debt will become. Debt becomes a problem when it surpasses your annual income, but if you can find a way to make more money your debt won’t be such a burden.
Change Your Habits
You can budget all that you want, but if you don’t change the habits that caused your problems then you risk them returning to haunt you.
Just think of the Hydra, with every head that’s cut off another will grow in its place. Mindlessly cutting off heads will accomplish nothing. Yet the core of the beast is vulnerable, the core of your problems are your bad habits.
Start by setting goals to change your habits. Write them down if you must and realize how often you find yourself doing them. Then, you can decide how to cut them out of your life and proceed to pay off debt.
Sell Unnecessary Items
Look around your house and tell me how many things you can find that you don’t use. Now open up an excel spreadsheet and tell me how much you can make by selling all that stuff. It’s probably a good chunk of cash and its all from things around your house.
- Consider selling your car- If you find that your car is an expense that keeps getting worse then consider selling it. You will save more money in the long run. Buy a cheap car, preferably around $5000 and try to keep it until you pay off all debts.
- Sell Any Collections You Have– Collectibles are great because they can be worth a lot and their selling price can be negotiated if you know their value. If you feel hesitant to sell your collection know that it will be going to benefit you.
- Sell Clothes You Don’t Use– This one is huge because I find that people have so many unused clothes that are just taking up space. Old clothes, bad sweaters, socks, jackets; take anything you can find and sell them online.
- Consider a Garage Sale– Garage sales get the whole neighborhood (and even people from afar) to buy old things in your house for straight cash. You get to keep all the money and it makes for a great way to cash in on all the stuff laying around your home.
Get Help From Friends and Family
Remember that Hercules didn’t defeat Hydra by himself, even he needed help by asking a family member. You must do the same to pay off your financial debt.
There is no reason to feel any shame or guilt in asking people who care about you for help; after all, that’s what they’re there for! Open up to them and explain the situation, they’ll be more understanding than you think.
With your combined efforts your debts will vanish faster and once you get back on your feet you can begin to pay them back for their help.
Watch Dave Ramsey
You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.Dave Ramsey
Finally, the last thing you need to defeat Hydra is to watch Dave Ramsey. Dave’s show is fantastic, he will not only provide you with tons of important financial wisdom; but you can relate to the people that call on his show.
Every person that calls Dave about their problems is someone like you, somebody who is suffering financially and doesn’t know what to do. Listening to them can give you hope and a bit of courage to get through your struggles.
Dave Ramsey is great at making complex financial problems seem very simple. He seems to demonstrate that people overcomplicate things through their own emotions. By watching his show, you might realize that your problems are minuscule compared to other peoples.
The Bottom Line
The Debt Hydra might be a scary monster when you picture him in your head, but once you’ve faced the beast with a tactical strategy that fear will fade away. Your debt can be paid off, it probably won’t be an easy process, but nothing ever is. Even for Hercules, defeating Hydra was no walk in the park.
Consider everything that you have at your disposal and utilize it towards your debt. Your job, your business, your budget; these are all tools that you can use to your advantage. Hydra is not invincible, he has many weaknesses that you can exploit. So, you might feel that debt may be preventing you from living the life that you want; just know that you can achieve financial freedom, you just have to work at it.