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Jana Says: How my library strategy relates to getting out of debt

Jana L.
by Jana L., Dimespring 30 (@saysjana)

I’ve mentioned this a number of times on my blog and on my personal Facebook page — my library is in a huge conspiracy to make sure that all the books I put on hold come in at one time. And it doesn’t matter when I put a book on hold; if I am in the middle of an epic novel like “Gone with the Wind” or a huge project, every book I’ve ever put on hold suddenly becomes available at once. 

It’s maddening, but I’ve devised a system for dealing with it. After all, I want to read all of those books or I wouldn’t have requested them. And I don’t want to have them for three weeks, not get to them, and then have to put them on hold again. That would be even more maddening.

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Oddly enough, my method for getting through a stack of library books is eerily similar to my approach to getting out of debt. But more on that later. First, here’s my strategy for taking on my local library:

1. I put them in the order that I want to read them. The ones I want to read the most get read first and then I go in descending order, also taking into consideration renewal possibilities and due dates.

For instance, right now I am reading “The Storyteller,” then I’ll move on to “Defending Jacob,” then “Monkey Mind,” then “Gone with the Wind.”

2. I set aside specific time every single day to read. I typically don’t watch a ton of TV so having time to read isn’t hard. Plus, it’s important to me to feed my mind with good stories and nonfiction books so making that time is important to me.

3. I give it my all. I will power-read, stay up really, uncomfortably late, or, if a book sucks, I’ll stop reading it. But whatever I choose, I do my best to get through all the books before their due dates.

If I can’t and renewing isn’t possible, I will either hang on to the book a few extra days and incur the late fee (I know, shame on me) or I’ll put a copy on my eReader or, in the worst case, I’ll buy the book.

4. I accept that it might not be possible to do it all at once. In reality, I know that I can’t always read all the books that I want to in the time frame I have. I accept that I might not get it all done when I want to and that I might have to extend the time or try again later on.

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Okay, fine. My selection process for getting through books sounds a lot like the debt snowball: put your debts in order, create a budget and a plan for paying them off, put in all your effort to working through it, and realizing that it might not always work the way you want it to but it’s still working. 

That’s actually how my husband and I got out of our consumer debt. We followed the Dave Ramsey debt snowball method and honestly, it’s the best thing we’ve ever done for our finances. It was hard, exhausting and frustrating. But completely and totally worth it.

However, it won’t work if you don’t commit to it, which we did. We gave it everything we had (note: everything we had does not mean we were as gazelle intense as others. We did the best we could for us and our financial situation).

When it comes to paying off debt, number three on my list is probably the most important. It doesn’t matter if you have the best debt repayment plan ever; if you’re not committed to it and following through on your plan, you’ll never get rid of your debt. And, in conjunction with that, don’t make excuses for why you can’t do it. If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way to get it done, regardless of circumstances.

Believe me, if we stopped making excuses and got it done, so can you.

Jana is a freelance writer and founder of the blogger mentoring program Bloggers Helping Bloggers. She's also the creator of Jana Says, a general lifestyle blog discussing money, life, family, pop culture and everything in between. Jana is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and perspectives on personal finance.