Hello #MoneyChat’ers! I’m so happy to be sharing my personal finance expertise here on The Money Chat. One of the biggest financial issues that people have trouble dealing with is managing and paying off debt. I know all too well, because I’ve been there and found a way to break free from the debt cycle and start making aggressive payments to get back on track.
Being in debt is tough and paying it all off can seem even harder. Becoming debt free doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that takes time, commitment and lots of motivation. It’s easy to start out strong and lose your drive and willpower over time. The key to combating the feeling of burnout is increasing your level of motivation.
Here are a few ways to help you remain motivated during your debt repayment journey.
Establish a Debt Free Date
I know it sounds obvious, but sometimes it’s not such a natural instinct to establish a ‘debt free date’ once you begin implementing your debt payoff plan. A debt free date is simply a goal with an official calendar day that depicts when you will become debt free and pay off all your accounts.
When I first got started paying off my debt, I was so excited and eager to start making payments each month that I failed to figure out a tentative month or day that I intended to make my last payment and become debt free. At first I didn’t mind not having a debt free date but then I started to wonder and worry as it became hard to track and measure my progress.
While it was great that I was making solid payments each month, I had no idea what I was shooting for so I actually began to settle and avoid increasing my debt payments when I ran across extra money throughout the month. Luckily, today I do have a debt free date and it helps me increase my focus and motivation by realizing that one day I’ll be able to enjoy the freedom of not owing anyone anything.
If you haven’t established your debt free date, it’s very simple to do so. Consider the amount of debt you owe vs. your income and your overall financial goals. Choose a realistic date that you intend on being debt free and estimate how much money you’ll need to put toward your debt monthly.
You can write your debt free date down on a sheet of paper and place it on the wall in your room for added motivation to help you keep pushing forward each day.
Set Smaller, More Attainable Goals
Trying to pay off $80,000 in debt all at once can make anyone want to go crawl under a rock. While some people have these amazing stories of paying off 5 and 6-figure debt in a short amount of time, it’s not always realistic to do depending on your situation.
While you’re paying off your debt, you’ll still have other living expenses to cover and while you should certainly reduce your expenses and increase your income, it’s important to set smaller goals so you don’t become overwhelmed.
Break your debt up into categories or chunks based on the amount of debt, the type and the interest rate. Some people try to pay off their consumer debt before student loans because student loans often have a lower interest rate.
You can adopt popular debt repayment styles like the snowball method or the avalanche method and alter them to help fit your specific situation.
Paying down your first $5,000 can seem a lot less intimidating than $55,000 and the progress you make once you achieve your smaller goals will motivate you to help tackle more debt in order to reduce and eventually eliminate your balance over time.
Acknowledge Your Progress along the Way
Paying off debt requires a remarkable level of focus and determination. Sometimes you can be so determined to reach your end goal that you forget to even acknowledge the progress you’ve made so far.
Instead of focusing on what you haven’t paid, acknowledge the debt you have paid and be proud of yourself for the accomplishment. Every little bit you put toward your debt does count and make a difference in the grand scheme of things.
When you hit a milestone and meet one of the smaller goals you set, give yourself a small reward or do something special that doesn’t require a lot of money or simply no money at all. Small rewards and acknowledging your progress will help boost your spirits and fuel your motivation when your debt pay off date still seems so far away.
Realize You Are Not Alone
Even though you may feel like you’re the only one dealing with debt, that’s certainly not the case. Thousands of Americans and even more people across other countries are dealing with debt.
There is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to your debt and there are plenty of people out there who are in the same boat. There are tons of podcasts, books, and literature to take advantage of to learn how other people dealt with their debt or are currently dealing with it.
When I’m feeling sluggish or unmotivated during my debt repayment journey, I always perk up when I read a feature article about someone who paid off all their debt in order to achieve the life they wanted to live. Those motivational stories are real, and if someone else can do it so can you.
You can also find an accountability partner whether it’s your spouse, family member or a friend and motivate each other to succeed.
Are you in debt? What are you doing to stay motivated? Comment or tweet us one thing that has motivated you during your debt repayment journey.
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