Are You Going All Out?

This is a guest post from my friend S at American Debt Project, where she blogs about paying off debt, income inequality in the US, investing, and a wealth of other topics. Her site is one that I highly recommend!

Humor me for a moment. I want to tell you a story about me as a kid. I was seven years old and spending my weekend as I spent every weekend, which included running around the neighborhood with a bunch of rowdy kids between the ages of six and twelve. Hannah was also seven and on this particular sunny Saturday afternoon, the two of us were hanging out outside our houses doing whatever it is kids do (feeding our Barbies mud soup and creating a running dialogue for the tortured dolls). Out of nowhere, Hannah asked me:

“How loud can you scream?”

“I don’t know,” I shrugged. I was a pretty quiet kid and didn’t give screaming very much thought.

“Try it. I want to see how loud you can scream.”

We walked a little further away from our houses. Our condo complex had a large grassy area and we walked to the end furthest from my house.

“Go ahead,” She was pretty bossy. But I wasn’t going to not scream. I just didn’t know how to do it. I cleared my throat. I thought about it a little. And finally I opened my mouth and let out a pretty lame scream. It was barely louder than my speaking voice. If I had been auditioning for the role of Scared Kid #2, I wouldn’t have made the cut.

“OK, now you go,” I told her. I was glad to finally be able to boss her around. She didn’t miss a beat. Hannah let out the most horrifying, blood-curdling scream I have ever heard to this day and she proceeded to scream for what felt like forever (but couldn’t have been more than six seconds). The next moment my parents were tumbling out of our front door to see which one of us had been murdered. We had to reassure that them we had only been playing a game, which they did not take to kindly. I still remember how my mom’s face looked as if it had been drained of all its blood. I don’t think she ever liked Hannah very much after that day.

I just remembered that story after so many years because I was thinking about my attitude toward the things I do. Do I act with conviction? Am I sure of my path? Do I go all out like Hannah did with her insane screaming?

I’d like to say I do. I’d like to say that since I decided once and for all to get out of debt, I haven’t faltered and I haven’t passed up a single chance to pay a few extra dollars. But I can’t say I’ve gone all out. I could be getting up early to write. I could be going to work early and staying late to provide value to our firm. I could get catering gigs for the 4,631 events that take place in LA on the weekends. I can always be doing more.

Don’t worry; I’m not beating myself up. I am pretty happy with the way things have changed financially, even if my exact dollar amounts don’t reflect that shift. But this community is about inspiration. So I want to push all of us to go all out like we never have before. When Hannah asked me to scream, I held back. I didn’t yell as loud as I could (with good reason, I think Hannah might have been a little crazy). But if you ask me how much debt I am going to pay off this year, I want to yell from the top of my lungs, ALL OF IT!

Andrea’s note: I am definitely NOT going all out lately, especially where debt is concerned. Ever since I paid off my credit cards, I’ve noticed a big decrease in the energy and time I devote to debt payoff. I blame it in part on my fluctuating income situation over the past six months, though I know better than to think that’s the whole problem.

I will say, though, I was probably the champion playground screamer in first grade. I was also the one who thought up stupid stuff like flashing cars (like 6 year-olds have so much to show off) and chasing boys trying to kiss them. So I know I have the ability to go all out; I just need to dust it off and use it for something besides nonsense!

What about you guys? Are you going all out on your debt, or are you just kind of plodding along? What areas of your life could use more (or all) of your energy?

  • Thad Puckett

    Great article on going all out. I can appreciate the challenge of “just getting after it” and seeing the fruits of your labor pay off.

  • Michelle

    I’m not going all out. If it weren’t for the vacations I’m taking, then yes, I would be going all out!

  • Well Heeled Blog

    I am definitely just plodding along on my student loans… in fact I don’t even think of them as “real debt” because they are 0% interest. Just another expense I have every month. But since I am going back to school this Fall, I need to get in the mindset of more saving, less spending. So perhaps it’s time for some screamin’ budget discipline!

    • American Debt Project

      0% interest student loans is awesome! It is still real debt, but I’d say you have some time before you need to go all out!

  • Jeff @My Multiple Streams

    kinda all out. Making the extra chunks to the 13% visa, but after that I think Im going to scale back for the 6% and 4% mortgage and second. Put more into investments for the 8-10% gain.

  • Newlyweds on a Budget

    we’re definitely plodding along. We paid off a bunch of debt in 2010 and 2011, this year is more about getting rid of all debt except for student loans, and then 2013 we’ll pick up again on our debt repayment, you have to have fun sometimes…and this works for us.

  • Aloysa @My Broken Coin

    I am not going all out this year but it will be pretty close! First and foremost I want to get rid of my consumer debt. Then I will have student loans. But at 0.22%, they can wait.

  • Dave Hilton

    I need to spend more time creating additional income streams. I’m only up to 4 right now…but I’d like to get to at least 7 total. Distractions are everywhere!

    I’ve also noticed a pattern where I focus on an idea for three or four months & then get bored with it. That’s why I try to create things that only take a couple of months to get going & only go back to them for occasional updates or short-term projects.

  • AverageJoe

    I feel like I’m moving quickly, then I realize that I’m moving 100 mph toward the wrong task….I have to spend more time planning the RIGHT tasks to do instead of just going all out toward another brick wall.

  • Bridget

    I feel a debt-killing battle cry coming on…

    • American Debt Project

      I like it! What’ll it be and is there war paint involved?

  • Carrie Smith

    I just kicked it into high gear this January and I feel I’m definitely going all out now. I’m putting all my effort towards paying off my debt, and I’ve cut out all non-essentials. Even if it means I’ll be a frugal hermit totally worth it though!

  • Yakezie

    I’m trying my best to go all out… but I feel the burn coming. Hence, perhaps 70-80% all out so I can last for a while longer. Sam

  • Marie at FamilyMoneyValues

    What a great story! I was mesmerized…of course, I am one of those who scream softly too. Thing thing about going all out is…you can only do it for awhile and then you burn out. I have found that persistence pays off - keep following your plan, and you will get there.

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