Are You Willing to Sacrifice to Succeed?

by Kevin on April 21, 2009

We all have goals in life. We want to accomplish this, move from here to there, get out of debt, and retire comfortably. These are all nice shiny goals at the end of a very long tunnel.

But are we willing to sacrifice today to make these goals a reality?

You want to reach a certain goal. But have you realistically thought about what it will take?

Reevaluate Your Goals and Situation

We all need to have a consistence process of

  1. evaluating current situation
  2. set goal
  3. work toward goal
  4. achieve goal

Once you reach your goal you go back to the beginning of the process and reevaluate again. It is highly likely that between Point A (your starting point) and Point B (reaching your goal) that some things have changed. Maybe those were minor things that you are comfortable ignoring. Then again they could be huge, game-changing events that suddenly make the goal you just reached inconsequential.

Is Sacrifice Required to Meet the Goal?

Let’s say you want to have paid off $4,000 in credit card debt by the end of the year. Once you evaluate the current situation you can decide whether or not you could reasonably do that with your current income and expenses.

If you can knock it out with your current income and expenses, no problem. Execute the plan and meet your goal.

But what if the answer is no? What if your calculations show that if everything stayed the same you could only pay off $2,000 worth of debt by the end of the year?

This is where the rubber meets the road.

Making Drastic Cuts

You’ve got two options if you are in the above situation. Increase your income or cut your expenses back. Cutting back expenses is usually the easier of the two options because almost everyone has something they could give up to save money. Increasing your sustainably income generally takes time — getting that second job, starting blogging, figuring out some way to earn additional income.

Making drastic cuts in your expenses can have an immediate impact. This is where the sacrifice kicks in. Sure, you could cut back eating out $5 per month. That’s not going to get you to your $4,000 goal at the end of the year.

But what if you…

  • cut out eating out entirely?
  • dropped cable and got TV through internet options (Hulu) and via antennae/over-the-air?
  • dropped your cell phone plan and pick up a pay-as-you-go plan?
  • cut out trips from your budget entirely for a few years?
  • sold your luxury car and picked up an older used vehicle (saving on vehicle costs and insurance)?

These all sound like serious, deep cuts to your lifestyle.

They are.

But if the goal is worth it — getting out of debt, paying off the house — would you be willing to make them?


Fabulously Broke April 21, 2009 at 8:51 am


I did this to get out of $60k of debt. I cut down as far as I could go without noticing things were being cut, or I just changed my attitude.

I snowflaked pennies towards my debt and it was done in 1.5 years

Irina I April 21, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Great post! Gets right down to the point, without being touchy feely. People should learn to be in control of their finances, and not the other way around.

And they will not be in control unless they try the sacrifice thing at least once. I am still working on it.

Trevor @ Financial Nut April 21, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Getting anywhere in life takes sacrifice. But I like how you highlight the need to actually set the goal. That’s one of the most important parts. Make sure it’s not just a thought or an idea; make it a goal!

Chris April 21, 2009 at 9:42 pm

We had let debt including mortgage blow out to $85000 so as to renovate our house and travel with our children. Just over 12 months ago we decided it was now time to clear the debt, the kids had moved on in their needs. We have moved from $85,000 to $56,000 in 13 months. We only buy stuff we need, and will still spend on family experiences and nothing else. I plan to be down to $40,000 by the end of 09. It only works if both parents agree that debt should be paid off and sacrifices need to be made.

Cathy April 22, 2009 at 10:27 am

I paid off $35,000 in debt in 5 years. I reprioritized my money and only spent on things that mattered to me. I didn’t buy the latest gadgets, I learned to cook at home, and I found a lot of free entertainment. I still saved and paid for scuba lessons and a trip to Jamaica – that was important to me. I suppose I could have trimmed that, but it would have only saved me an additional 2 months. If my balance wasn’t going down, then I wouldn’t have done it.

Kevin April 22, 2009 at 7:51 pm

@Fabulously Broke: Awesome. Wow. $60k in 18 months is huge — what kind of income are we talking here? Also, now that you are out of debt, have you gone back to your old ways or kept the budget the same?

@Irina: Thanks. Sometimes you have to stop beating around the bush.

@Trevor: Good point. Getting ahead at work, building a business, etc. all require sacrifices. Luckily the goal is easily quantifiable with debt. Pay $X off and save $Y in interest.

@Chris: Great progress! Again, it depends on the income you are talking about, but $19k in debt is nothing to shake a stick at.

@Cathy: What sort of free entertainment were you utilizing? Always looking for more ideas. About Jamaica: I’ve always said that you still have to live. Don’t cut out everything or then you’re just a hermit.

Jennifer April 28, 2009 at 8:14 am

I agree that it does take sacrifice to reach your goals. We paid off $22,000 of debt over the past two years. We are actually refinancing our mortgage today to get a lower interest rate and include our home equity loan, so by tomorrow I will officially be debt free except for the house!

But one of the ways we reached our goal was by increasing our income. I started a business selling handcrafted pendants on Etsy. It has brought in some great extra income and hasn’t been a sacrifice at all – it has actually been a lot of fun!

Kevin May 3, 2009 at 2:07 pm

@Jennifer: Great! That’s $11,000 per year or nearly $1,000 per month. Awesome job!

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