I'm the type of person that gets super excited and gung ho at the beginning of a project. I can't wait to get started and live and breathe the project. However, as time goes on, I tend to lose my excitement. And as I lose excitement, my motivation to complete the project wavers.
How about you? Does this happen to you also?
Perhaps you decided that this was the year you were going to get out of debt (or stay on budget or save a certain amount of money). It might seem exciting in the beginning and easy to stay motivated to work towards your goal. However, as time goes on, you lose that excitement and desire to make sacrifices to achieve your goal.
Here are some tips to help you stay motivated to pay off debt:
Post a Visual Reminder of Progress
For me, it's out of sight, out of mind. I like to keep a visual reminder of my progress as I work towards a goal. For me, I'm a spreadsheet junkie, so I like to keep spreadsheets that show me how much I've already accomplished towards my goal and how much I have left to work towards.
You can do something as easy as a whiteboard or a piece of paper where you write all your debts and simply cross them off as you pay them off (and show the balance lowering).
Break it Down into Smaller Goals
If you have a huge amount of money to repay, rather than look at the entire $35,000 in student loan debt, break it down into smaller portions. Break it down into increments you think you can repay within a one-month, six-month or year period and then celebrate when you hit those goals.
You don't want to look at your overall debt and think that you can never pay it all back! But, it's much easier to look at smaller numbers and achieve those.
Get an Accountability Partner
Use peer pressure in a positive way. Find an accountability partner who will ask you the tough questions to help you keep on track to pay down your debt. If you worry about having to tell your accountability partner about a slip up, maybe you can avoid the slip up in the first place.
Experiment with a Debt Repayment Calculator
I like to play around with a debt repayment calculator to see how much I can shave off the repayment period. Let's say, for example, that I'm paying an extra $10 per month towards my mortgage. Once I get used to paying that amount each month, I like to see how much interest and time I could save if I paid an extra $20 per month. It can motivate your to keep going and even find some extra money that you can put towards debt payoff.
Celebrate Milestones with Splurges
If your budget is extremely tight as you repay debt, you'll likely get tired of always making sacrifices. Set aside a small amount of money to use towards celebrating milestones in your debt repayment journey.
Did you finally pay off your student loans? Celebrate! It doesn't need to be anything expensive. Get creative and find frugal things that you can do to celebrate – it can even just be a day spent together as a family at the park or an ice cream cone. It just needs to be something fun and feel like a celebration of what you've accomplished so far.
While you're getting out of debt, you need to change your mindset and not revert back to those habits that got you into trouble in the first place. For example, if you have friends and family that always tempt you to spend lots of money going out to eat, either avoid hanging out with those friends or perhaps invite them over to your house for a home-cooked dinner rather than meeting them at a restaurant.
If you have large amounts of credit card debt, it's probably a good idea to get rid of your credit cards so you don't add to your debt while you're trying to pay them off. Use a cash only system to pay for your purchases.
Get Back Up on the Horse
Besides losing my initial excitement for projects, I'm also an all-or-nothing person, and I tend to let one mistake/problem dictate my entire day. If I accidentally mess up when working towards a goal, I think I've ruined it forever and initially want to just give up! Can you tell I tend to over-dramatize things?
If you make a financial mistake in the middle of your debt repayment process, shrug it off and keep working towards your goal. Don't let one purchase mistake undo everything you've been working towards.
What about you? If you've paid off debt before, how did you stay motivated throughout the process?