Do you ever get tired of being frugal so you can pay off a debt? Check out these 12 tips to help you stay motivated to get out of debt.
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 debt-free journey.
Here are some tips to help you stay motivated to pay off debt:
Remember Why You Want to Pay Off Debt
Back when you started to pay off your debt, you probably had a really good reason (or reasons) why you wanted to get rid of the debt. Perhaps you were tired of living paycheck to paycheck or you were tired of always stressing about money. Or maybe, you wanted to make sure that your kids had a good money example while growing up or you had long-term goals you wanted to accomplish that couldn't happen while you had a mountain of debt.
Make sure you have a reminder of why you want to pay off the debt so that reason motivates you to continue on your journey towards debt freedom.
You could tape a picture of your kids on your mirror or perhaps a picture that represents financial freedom or a picture of your huge goal.
Choose a Debt Repayment Method that Motivates You
Some people choose to pay off their debts with the Debt Snowball Method. Basically, you list your debts from smallest debt to largest and then pay off the smallest debts first (while still making minimum payments on everything else) ending with the largest debts.
By knocking off small debts first, you're motivated to continue paying off the rest of the debt.
Another method some people like is to list all debts in order of interest rates, with the highest interest rate debt on the bottom and lowest on the top. You would then pay off the highest interest rates first to save money on interest and continue from there.
With this method, you could keep track of the amount of interest you're wasting your money on each month and watch that number decrease as the debt gets smaller.
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 debt I have left to work towards.
You can do something as easy as a vision board 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). Another great way is using one of the tons of free debt payoff printables available.
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 small 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 for my total debt.
Let's say, for example, that I'm paying an extra $10 per month towards my mortgage. Every little bit helps, and 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 in monthly payments.
It can motivate you 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 small wins and milestones in your debt repayment journey.
Did you finally pay off your student loans? Celebrate with small rewards!
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.
Create a Realistic Budget
Make sure that you have a realistic budget during your debt payoff journey. You might be able to do a month or two of a spending freeze, but after that, you need a realistic budget to give you some breathing room.
Be sure to budget in a small amount of fun money. All work and no play can make it hard to stay motivated for the long term.
Earn Extra Money
During the debt repayment process, find ways to earn some extra money so you can pay off the debt even faster with extra payments.
Take the second job or accept any overtime opportunities that you can get. You could even start a side hustle. It's extra motivating to see the balance go down even more quickly than you had planned!
Get Inspired by Others
Motivate yourself by reading financial planning books like The Total Money Makeover, or listen to your favorite finance guru's podcasts (like The Dave Ramsey Show or the Clark Howard Podcast).
The Ramsey Show podcast has almost daily debt-free screams that celebrate the success stories of others. It's helpful to know that you're not the only one trying to create a better life and debt-free future.
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 plan, shrug it off and keep working towards your end 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?
Thank you for this article on "how to stay motivated to get out of debt." I am working my plan to be debt free by December, 2018. After reading your article I am going to try some of your suggestions to keep myself motivated. Just a few more months to go and I will have a major burden lifted off my shoulders.