Winning With Money Part 1: Stop Digging

Can't Dig your way out of a Hole

15 Aug Winning With Money Part 1: Stop Digging


This is part one of a 5-part series on how to start winning with money. These 5 posts will become part of an e-book I’m writing but I wanted to make the info available ahead of time. Partially because I needed something to blog about, but mostly to share the stuff with you, our readers, so you didn’t have to wait.

Can't Dig your way out of a Hole

You can’t dig your way out of a hole!

“When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to quit digging.” – Will Rogers

In October 2010, a group of 33 miners were trapped 2,000 feet underground in Chile. They were stuck there for over two months before a rescue team was able to drill a new shaft to get them on an elevator ride out of the hole.

As I watched that situation unfold on the news, I noticed something interesting. In the 69 days they were trapped in the hole, not once did anyone suggest they send a shovel down to the miners and have them dig deeper down. All the talks of rescue efforts were about getting to the miners and lifting them out of the hole, not sending them deeper.

This sounds like a silly observation, but I think it’s worth mentioning. If you’re serious about getting out of a hole, I highly doubt you’re going to grab a shovel and dig deeper. Yet, when most of us are in the hole with our money, the first solution that comes to mind is borrowing more money.

Where’s the logic in that? “I don’t have enough money to pay my bills so I’ll take out a loan and agree to pay even more money that I don’t have.” It doesn’t make any sense, but we’ve been conditioned to think there are no other options. But there are other options.

Just as you can’t dig your way out of a hole, you can’t borrow your way out of debt. So the first step in winning with money is to stop borrowing.

That’s it. Stop borrowing. Period. Cut up the credit cards, stop asking your family for short-term loans, and quit looking for ways to refinance your mortgage so you can go deeper into debt.

I know. Sounds too simple, doesn’t it? That’s because it is.

Not only is it extremely simple, but it’s extremely effective. You can’t have a credit card problem if you don’t have credit cards. Amazing, but true.

So take the first step to winning with money: resolve not to borrow money anymore. Don’t just resolve to borrow more wisely in the future. Resolve to stop borrowing for good.

Next, set yourself up for success by removing the temptations to borrow. How? By walking the walk. Don’t just talk about getting out of debt. Prove it.

Cut up the credit cards. Don’t talk to the loan officer unless it’s to get your payoff amount. Realize that you can live without a car payment, then actually follow through with your new vision of living debt free. Stop thinking in terms of how much payment you can afford. Start thinking in terms of what you can pay for. In whole.

You are now ready for a paradigm shift.

Changing the way you look at debt changes the way you look at a lot of things in your finances. When you draw the line in the sand and refuse to borrow anymore, you start making better choices with your money.

You stop thinking about how much you’ll have to pay each month and you start focusing on what you need to do in order to have it paid in full when you buy it. You stop stressing about being able to make your monthly payments if you lose your job. You become more productive at work because you’re not stressed about paying your bills.

You also learn to value the things you own a lot more because you worked hard to own them outright. And you start thinking real long and hard before making a purchase because you aren’t willing to take shortcuts anymore. You start making sure it’s the right decision and you stop jumping into things without looking.

Eliminating your debt is a powerful stress reliever that results in standing taller, working harder, and enjoying life more. When you’re no longer willing to dig deeper, you might actually start looking up and finding a way to climb out of the hole.

26 Comments
  • 1step
    Posted at 15:21h, 15 August

    So true, people throwing good money after bad. I know some close relatives that went on gambling trips to try and earn money (they are not professional gamblers). And of course as you would expect it, they got taken at the tables.

    • Matt Wegner
      Posted at 15:29h, 15 August

      Wow, that’s a great way to go from bad to worse in a hurry!

  • Doctor Stock
    Posted at 15:30h, 15 August

    Absolutely… paying off “bad” debt is critical… and I consider nearly all debt to be “bad” debt. What’s the point of investing and making 10% if your credit card is charging 18%?

    • Matt Wegner
      Posted at 15:38h, 15 August

      Boy, I’m with you on that one. I tend to think there’s not much good that can come from any debt.

  • Personal Finance Links – New Facebook Page Edition
    Posted at 16:02h, 15 August

    […] Excellence has winning with money: stop digging. You can’t get out of debt if you don’t stop […]

  • Funancials
    Posted at 20:30h, 15 August

    Simple yet brilliant.

  • Marie at FamilyMoneyValues
    Posted at 20:42h, 15 August

    What you are stating is common sense. Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of us have none.

    • Matt Wegner
      Posted at 21:01h, 15 August

      There is nothing more uncommon than common sense. Was it Ben Franklin who said that?

  • Travis @Debtchronicles
    Posted at 21:44h, 15 August

    I’ve done the “credit card promotional rate” disco, I’ve done the “use one credit card to pay off another one” samba, and I’ve done the “consolidation loan” shuffle.

    Oh how I used to dig….

    Love the analogy – fortunately for me, I’ve retired my shovel! 🙂

    • Matt Wegner
      Posted at 06:01h, 16 August

      So glad you retired your shovel Travis!

  • Shawanda @ You Have More Than You Think
    Posted at 03:51h, 17 August

    Continuing to engage in behavior that landed you in a negative situation defies all logic. One of my favorite quotes involves Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” So simple, yet so true.

    • Matt Wegner
      Posted at 06:33h, 17 August

      That’s one of my favorite quotes too! It’s amazing how much of personal finance is just simple, common sense. Yet so many people reject it because it’s too simple.

  • Weekly Roundup For August 19, 2011
    Posted at 05:32h, 19 August

    […] Financial Excellence writes Winning With Money Part 1:Stop Digging. […]

  • Carnival of Financial Planning - Edition #198
    Posted at 05:33h, 19 August

    […] presents Winning With Money Part 1: Stop Digging posted at Living In Financial Excellence, saying, “Changing the way you look at debt changes […]

  • Jon White
    Posted at 11:19h, 19 August

    I agree with you Matt that you have to stop borrowing money if you want to get out of debt. It is a simple concept yet why do so many people try and do it differently? Borrowing money to get out of debit is like filling in a hole by digging another hole. At the end of the day all you have is a new hole.

  • Carnival of Financial Planning – Edition #198 | BUSINESS
    Posted at 08:25h, 20 August

    […] presents Winning With Money Part 1: Stop Digging posted at Living In Financial Excellence, saying, “Changing the way you look at debt changes the […]

  • Carnival of Financial Planning – Edition #198 | CAPITAL
    Posted at 01:25h, 22 August

    […] presents Winning With Money Part 1: Stop Digging posted at Living In Financial Excellence, saying, “Changing the way you look at debt changes the […]

  • Weekly Roundup For August 19, 2011 | CASH
    Posted at 22:39h, 22 August

    […] Financial Excellence writes Winning With Money Part 1:Stop Digging. […]

  • Carnival of Financial Planning – Edition #198 | COMPANY
    Posted at 20:26h, 23 August

    […] presents Winning With Money Part 1: Stop Digging posted at Living In Financial Excellence, saying, “Changing the way you look at debt changes the […]

  • Weekly Roundup For August 19, 2011 | COMPANY
    Posted at 22:55h, 23 August

    […] Financial Excellence writes Winning With Money Part 1:Stop Digging. […]

  • Amin
    Posted at 18:42h, 01 September

    Not digging further is only natural but you have not told us what to do if you are in debt. Do you starve to death? DO you give up on your life?
    You have not told us that those miners got out of that hole by taxes being cut.What to do when you are in a deep whole is what people want to hear not what not to do.

    • Matt Wegner
      Posted at 19:46h, 01 September

      You’re right. I haven’t told you specifically what to do to if you’re in debt. But the next few posts in this series do touch on other steps for winning with money that are more along the lines of what you’re looking for: what TO do, vs. what NOT to do.

      Having said that, if you want very specific advice for getting out of debt, we have over 600 posts on this blog. If you do a quick search you should find plenty of advice on how to get out of debt. Or you can ask questions in the forums or listen to some of our podcast episodes. Lots of great info on this blog that should fit what you’re looking for.

      If that doesn’t work, we do offer financial coaching services where we help you create a debt elimination plan specific to your individual situation. I hope that helps Amin!

  • Baking the Budget’s Blog Round-Up | The Dog Ate My Wallet
    Posted at 21:02h, 13 December

    […] Which Way the Markets are Headed 4) Living in Financial Excellence gives excellent advice in Winning with Money Part 1: Stop Digging 5) Money Beagle wants to know Why Does Standard & Poors Hate America? 6) And in these crazy […]

  • Tips Series: Rescue Your Financial Plan | HelpWithDebtNow.com
    Posted at 21:24h, 07 November

    […] NAPFA Personal Finance BlogThe Tightening of Finance To Pay The DebtYakezie Carnival Mardi Gras EditionMcHenry County BlogMajor cost savings are actually conceivable by using pet insurance right now Winning With Money Part 1: Stop Digging […]

  • Totally Money Carnival #33
    Posted at 10:05h, 27 November

    […] presents Winning With Money Part 1: Stop Digging posted at Living In Financial Excellence, saying, “Changing the way you look at debt changes […]