Fight The Enemy Not Your Plan When Paying Off Credit Card Debt

by Hank

There is a saying in the military, “Fight the enemy, not the plan”. Far too many times in a battle, many military leaders are wed to the plan that they came up with. No matter what the enemy does on the battlefield, historically the military leadership tries to continue fighting accounting to the war plan that was developed despite its flaws that come to light on the actual field. An enemy is a fluid opponent that does not necessarily play by the rules or the playbook that you drew up beforehand. So, a commander has to adapt his plan and fight the enemy.

The same can be said for most people’s fight against credit card debt. They develop a wonderful and elaborate plan of attack, but then they find out that the circumstances of their lives do not quite fit into the mold. But, still many people do not adapt their plans. They continue trying to shove a square peg in a round hole because that was the original plan. The hole just has to be square. That was the plan.

Be Fluid. There are all kinds of ways to get out of debt. Dave Ramsey recommends the debt snowball method where you pay off your smallest debt first and then throw all that money at the next smallest debt until they are all paid off. Many others recommend paying off your credit card with the highest interest rate first in order to save you more money in the long run. Most financial planners recommend stopping retirement account contributions and other investments until you get completely out of debt. There are many ways to skin the cat. But, which one is right for you? The plan that you make at the beginning may not be the one that you can continue with all the way through to the end thanks to twists that life throws at you.

Adapt And Overcome. When US Army Paratroopers jumped out of their airplanes over Normandy, France, they were miles off their intended marks. They were scattered all over the place, separated, surrounded, and on unfamiliar ground. They had to adapt their original plan to the reality of what they now faced on the ground in France. The same thing applies to you. Were you working through your debt snowball and just find out that you are going to be laid off on Friday? Time for a change of plans. Did you just find out that your wife is pregnant or that you have to move across the country? These are definitely life events that will through a monkey wrench into your plans.

Results Are All That Matter. In the military, they call it commander’s intent or the endstate. What do you want your debt to look like in the end, when it is all said and done? You want to be out of credit card debt of course. You want the freedom to invest, save, and live your life the way you want without being tied down to minimum monthly payments. In the grand scheme of things, it does not matter if you pay off the highest interest rate credit card first or the smallest balance. You may pay a little more in interest, but either way in the end you will have paid off your debts. And, that is all that really matters.

Do not fall in love with your original plan if it is not working for you. If life presents you with a new set of obstacles, change your plan to suit your needs. It is okay if you do not follow the plan exactly as long as you are heading in the right direction. The end goal is all that matters. Fight the enemy and the life circumstances that are before you in order to get to the finish line and begin living a debt free life.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jerry July 23, 2010 at 4:54 pm

These are all great tips… I think that it’s true that people will lead themselves into trouble by not being willing to adapt, so they are unable to overcome even relatively surmountable obstacles. Once you have the insurance of good results, THEN is the time to stick with a particular plan… and not necessarily before!
Jerry

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