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The Very First Financial Goal You Should Set

Back in 2012, when I decided to aggressively get out of student loan debt, I had to learn how to set (and achieve) financial goals.

This seemed daunting to me; for most of my life, I could easily set and achieve writing goals; writing a 110-page screenplay had become achievable, but tackling the $80K student loan debt seemed well-nigh impossible.

I knew I had to start slowly. (I also knew that I needed to get a job because, at that time, I was unemployed). But before I sent off any job applications or even began to make that first additional payment, there was one thing I had to do above all else and that was…

Face the facts

No, I wasn’t a total hot mess in terms of finances (I mean, I knew roughly when my auto-payments were deducted from my account, and I rarely went into overdraft from some dumb annual subscription that came due), but I was deeply scared of, well, looking at at how much I actually owed (including the interest I was paying and how much the loan would cost over time). That didn’t seem like…a fun time.

But here’s the thing: when I finally did sit down and look at it…it wasn’t as bad as I had thought. Sure, it was a lot, but sitting down to just see those numbers in the cold light of day was, in the parlance of Suze Orman, the first step of “face it to erase it.”

I don’t know the exact percentage of Americans with kick-the-can-down-the-road-itis or it’s-too-damn-scary-to-look-at-my-finances-phobia, but if it’s you, I can say that sometimes that that first step is a good and noble goal.

It is simultaneously the easiest thing (I mean, all you have to do is look at numbers) and the hardest because, once you face your fears, the question becomes…what are you going to do about it?

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