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Forrest Gump’s Lessons on Getting Out of Debt


Note from David: The following post comes to us from blogging friend of mine Ben Edwards of Money Smart Life. Ben has recently published the book Debt Heroes featuring 21 inspirational stories from people who have gotten out of debt – including me. His book is free through tomorrow.

Debt Heroes

Forrest Gump was a runaway smash hit in 1994. Against the odds, below-average Forrest manages to be involved, and sometimes have an important role, in significant historical events. This feel-good movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture and nabbed Tom Hanks the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Forrest’s story of perseverance and eternal optimism can teach us all a lesson or two, especially those of us who are struggling with debt. If you thought Forrest Gump was just a fun little movie, consider what you can learn from it:

1. Things often don’t work out as you plan, but control what you can.

The mantra for Forrest Gump is the simple little phrase, “My mama always said life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.” This was certainly true for Forrest’s eventful life as well as for all of us.

You never know what you may get in life. Let’s be honest; there are many things in life that we can’t control, but what’s important to remember is that there are many things we CAN control.

Trying to pay down debt? Seize the things you can control. Call your credit card companies and ask them to lower your interest rate. Call your cable company and ask for a lower rate. Then apply the difference onto your debt repayment plan. Find a side gig or create your own business so you have more money to put on your debt.

2. Don’t believe what others say about you and your situation.

Forrest has below average intelligence, but he was able to accomplish many things including attending college on an athletic scholarship and saving several men’s lives when he is serving in Vietnam. If Forrest had believed what others had said about him and bought into their low expectations for him, he wouldn’t have accomplished these things.

If you’ve had financial troubles for some time, others may say (and even you might say) you’re just bad with your money. Maybe you have been bad with your money up to this point, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change your situation. You know what you can accomplish, and now is the perfect time to change your financial situation by curbing your spending, creating an emergency fund and beginning the process of getting out of debt.

3. Being angry and feeling sorry for yourself will only worsen your situation.

One of the men that Forrest saves in Vietnam is Sgt. Dan Taylor, who is angry about being saved because now he’s had to have his leg amputated. When Sgt. Taylor gives in to his anger, he abuses alcohol and has such an ugly personality that no one wants to be around him. Years later, his attitude changes, and his life improves dramatically.

If you’re in debt and feel like there’s no way out, it’s easy to become bitter and angry. However, those emotions will likely not improve your situation; in fact, they may make it worse. Wherever you are now financially, accept it. Then, with an attitude of hopefulness and optimism, begin to do what you need to pay down debt. Accept that it may be a long process, but know that you can do it. Keep reading the stories of how people – like David of Money Under 30 — have found ways to beat debt. Learn from the success of others.

Forrest Gump is a cute movie about a simple man who changed history multiple times. You, too, can change your own personal history, and in the process, your family tree, by becoming responsible with your money and getting rid of your debt one bill at a time.

For 21 profiles of people who changed their life by paying off a lot of debt check out the book Debt Heroes. The book gives you success stories for example and motivation on your journey to pay off debt.

Ben Edwards is a co-author of the Debt Heroes book and writes about money at Money Smart Life.

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Comments

  1. Dude, Gary Sinise’s character in Forrest Gump wasn’t a sergeant, he was an officer — a 2nd lieutenant, to be precise.

    Or, as Forrest would put it, “Youah still Loo-tenant Dan.”

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