Planned Neglect III: Getting Out of Debt is Fun!

“I can’t go out to lunch with you guys today. But I can go next week.” Nothing but blank stares from coworkers. Insert one more attempt to explain.

“It’s the end of the month, and wife and I already spent all of the restaurant budget. Next week is a new month and I can join you for lunch then.”

More blank stares.


Experiences like this happened to us often in New Jersey. Eventually, we gave up on sharing our financial wins with coworkers. These wins were so encouraging to us, even though no one around us cared.

But this is when we realized that, no matter what others say, getting out of debt can be fun.

Yes, I did said fun!

I highly recommend Financial Peace University because it is the best wisdom I can find on how to get out of debt and build wealth — and I’ve done my research! I even lead classes, I believe in it so much.

Plus, I’ve seen firsthand how much FPU can change a family’s financial trajectory. For example, ours.

Wife and I are, well, a bit competitive. And by a bit, I mean a truckload. Whether it’s Guitar Hero or the quickest way home, we compete over the most random stuff. Often against each other, though we choose not to keep score.

This time, though, we were united against a common enemy: debt.

We trimmed our budget down to nothing, like it was a contest. We made it a game to throw as much money as we could at our student loans. (You’d be surprised how little money you can spend on groceries when you’re excited about it!)

We ran some numbers. With an aggressive plan and by applying our current savings, we could be out of debt in just 7 months.

But we couldn’t help trying to beat that time…

Just five months later, we called up The Dave Ramsey Show for our debt-free scream. I’m telling you, it was a blast!

Wife and I have many weaknesses and flaws, which we’ll talk about more in other posts. But finances are an area we decided to tackle every month with a powerful weapon. The weapon is the dreaded “b” word — a budget.

There’s nothing preventing you from doing the same. You could get out of debt — and in a fun, fast way — aside from your attitude and your perspective. Planned neglect is the key.

We intentionally set aside anything which kept us from our goal of debt freedom. Consider declaring debt the enemy and do the same. Then start on a big emergency fund.

This is planned neglect, and it’s incredibly potent.

It’s sad how ineffective we are when we spread our efforts razor thin over a hundred good projects instead of a single great one.

What is your enemy right now? What if you combined all of your efforts to defeat it? How quickly could you overcome it?

Planned Neglect II: Extreme Focus

There are so many good things out there. So many, it’s likely we will completely lose sight of the great things. The things only we can do. The things worth doing above all others. Our lack of focus minimizes results.

In The One Minute Millionaire, I read of a Vietnamese couple who constantly dealt with tough times, yet still managed to be successful. Twice, they traded their life savings for passage into the United States. There, they started over financially for the third time.


Here, the man and wife worked in a bakery owned by a cousin. Oh, and they lived there, too! They slept in the back on sacks of sawdust.

The cousin offered to sell the bakery for $30,000. However, making just $15,600 a year, this would be tough!

But not with extreme focus and planned neglect…

This couple knew how to neglect the right things. In two years they had somehow saved $30,000 and bought the bakery! That’s right — they lived on just $600 each year.

They owned it, but they still owed another $90,000 on a note.

They decided to live in the back one more year. After three years of no extra expenses and a huge goal, they were debt free and running a successful bakery.

The best part of the story is the man’s logic for not getting an apartment:

If we got ourselves an apartment, which we could afford on $300 per week, we’d have to pay the rent. Then, of course, we’d have to buy furniture. Then we’d have to have transportation to and from work, so that meant we’d have to buy a car. Then we’d have to buy gasoline for the car, as well as insurance. Then we’d probably want to go places in the car, so that meant we’d need to buy clothes and toiletries. So I knew that if we got that apartment, we’d never get our $30,000 together.
–Le Van Vu, multi-millionaire businessman

Most people choose tiny treasures right now instead of vast treasures later because they are unwilling to dig into the effort wholeheartedly. They spread their efforts on many “good” projects instead of a single great one.

Planned neglect is incredibly difficult.

But sheesh, is it powerful!

What could you accomplish with your life if you focus intentionally and neglect all distractions? Let your mind wander and share your thoughts as a comment.

Planned Neglect I: The Concept

One of the best parts about being an adult is the ability to say “yes” to anything I want. If I have the money for a technology gadget, I have the freedom to purchase it.

Many good opportunities will come around and of course you jump in! I mean, why not?


Yet it seems this is also one of the worst parts, too — the ability to do whatever you want. It quickly leads to entitlement. And discontentment. And busyness.

And never achieving your goals.

Without discipline and restraint, that is.

Time and attention and energy are finite. It’s obvious you only have so many decades to live, but it’s less obvious how little of it you use on the most intentional of activities. Goals with eternal value. Prioritizing relationships over stuff, giving over taking, growing over groaning.

Introduce planned neglect.

The willful turning away from everything which is not a part of your biggest goal. The desire to ignore anything which seems good but is really an obstacle. Locking your eyes on the target and not even noticing the distractions.

God put you here for a reason. He has a job for you to do it. The ridiculously big idea you which overwhelms you every time you think about it.

How will you ever get your life’s work done?

Planned neglect.

What is your life’s work? No, this is not a rhetorical question!

Rigorous Filtering

The most successful, most determined, most achieving people are the best at saying no. They are painfully aware of the precious moments they have to do only what is most important, what they are most passionate about.


Any other opportunities must be cut rigorously and without apology in order make great progress in the direction they are driven.

Nearly everything else is filtered away.

Yes, even good or great causes with noble goals. Opportunities to make tons of money which do not align with their inner sense of meaning for their lives.

They are able to make decisions easily. Either something helps their life’s purpose or it is a distraction from it and thus does damage to it.

There is such clarity and purpose in the following statement.

“I won’t be there. I have to write my book.”

This is such a narrow filter which only allows the most intentional commitments through.

Creativity is strict. But this rigorous filtering allows you to spend your time, energy, and money on passions. Not distractions.

How do you filter opportunities?

Rise Above the Task

You keep getting overwhelmed by the task at hand. It is too much, or so it seems. All you can see is the obstacle in your path.

You know better than that.


You are tremendously capable. You have conquered mountains before, so why should you let this puddle stop you?

You have got to get your nose out of the fog and rise above the task.

Rise, because you know better. Rise, because you have beaten enemies far greater than this. Rise, because you are wasting all of your energy and resources whining about it instead of proceeding to adventures beyond.

Rise, so you can see what is just past this obstacle — not to mention the treasures down the road. Rise, so you will realize this is a minor problem which won’t matter tomorrow. Rise, so you can achieve the much grander task God has created for you and you alone.

It only matters that you conquer this task. The task itself does not matter at all. There will be plenty more tedious and arduous and painful tasks after this one, and you will surmount them all just as you have done now.

What is your alternative? Give up? Ha! This will only make the obstacle more treacherous and scary when you face it days, weeks, or years from now.

And you will be forced to face it again if you do not conquer it now!

Adversity is preparation for greatness.

No more whining. No more undermining the system which placed the task in your hands.

This is war, and your only choice is to win.

Otherwise, you will return again and again only to hopelessly admit defeat to something which has no power over you.

Stop steering away from the storm. No more avoiding the very thing which will make you stronger, sharper, and more resilient.

If you only rise above it.

Resolve right now not to back down from the obstacle in front of you. Make a specific plan to overcome it once and for all.