Inside: When you’re fighting to get debt free, it can be tough to stay motivated. At least one of these 14 tips are sure to work for you.
When you come to the realization of just how bad your debt is, you can do one of two things. Bury your head in the ground, or find the guts to finally get debt free.
You might have a rush of motivation when you start your debt-free journey. But after a while, those endorphins fade and reality sets in. Paying off debt is hard work. If it took you a while to build up the debt, it’s going to take you a while to pay it back off.
Maybe you’ve already tried paying off this debt before, only to fall right back into the old habits that got you there in the first place. How can you keep that from happening again? And how do you keep going for the entire marathon?
Our family let debt control us for years before we decided to get serious about destroying it. We’ve managed to pay off one gigantic credit card, but we still have another year of fighting ahead of us. We’ve found these ideas work well when we’re having a rough patch. I think you’ll find them helpful, too.
Here are 14 different tricks we’ve used to stay motivated while we get debt free.
When I want to make a purchase, I stop to consider if it’s a true need or something that can wait. If I can classify it as a want, even just a little bit, I ask myself: What will I feel when I buy this item? Is it worth staying in debt for? Or getting even further into debt? Or would it feel better to buy this item with cash later, when I’m debt free?
99% of the time, I would rather feel the relief of being debt free than own the item I’m considering.
2. Read a chart
Have you ever looked at an amortization schedule? It’s chart that shows you month by month how much money you are paying towards your original purchase, and how much you are paying in interest. If you look at one for bills you owe, you’ll probably be amazed at how much interest you wind up paying by the end of your agreement.
Even worse is credit card bills, which don’t always have an end date. (Especially if you’re still using them.)
If you prefer to focus on the positive, check out an amortization schedule for savings. If you could save or invest the money you usually pay toward bills, how much would you have in a year? How about five years?
Use those numbers to encourage you to get out of debt quickly so you can make your money work hard for you rather than someone else.
3. Beat the Date
If you know all of the details for your debt (and you should know all of these details if you’re serious about getting rid of it!), then you can calculate the date that you’ll be debt free.
Have you ever used a GPS to learn what time you’ll reach your destination? If you’re like me, you can’t help trying to beat the time they give you.
Why not use that spirit in a better way?
Create a little competition. Can you beat the date that the calculator gave you? What can you do to get out of debt before your calculated debt free date? Do everything you can to bring that date much sooner.
4. Knock Off the Free Time
Do you tend to spend money when you’re bored? Then stop being bored!
Find a cheap or free hobby that will keep you busy enough that you don’t have time to waste money. Training for a race requires a small investment up front, but takes more time than money.
If you want a double whammy, get a side job. Not only will you be too busy to spend, but you’ll also additional money to throw at debt. If you don’t have time for a side job, you can at least spend time earning Swagbucks or taking surveys!
5. Don’t break the chain.
Challenge yourself to go as long as possible without doing things that derail your progress. If you tend to waste money on fast food, how many days can you go without hitting the drive thru? Challenge yourself to beat your old time.
On the other hand…
6. Accept mistakes and move on
It’s too easy to say, “Well, I blew it. Now that I wasted money on fast food once, I might as well do it again.”
Don’t sabotage your hard work! Accept that you broke the chain, and immediately begin working on a new one. Do not beat yourself up! And don’t accept retail therapy as an option anymore.
7. Read personal finance books.
If you enjoy reading (or listening to audio books), pick up a personal finance book. I enjoy reading a variety of them, because I always learn something new to try.
I’ve got a list of my favorite personal finance books that have helped us in our debt free journey here.
8. Learn what your budget busters are and get rid of them.
Do you know where your money is leaking? Check out the free Identify and Destroy Your Budget Busters course. Once you know where your money is leaking, you can take a couple of steps to fix the leak. Sometimes focusing on one thing gives you the wake up call you need.
9. Embrace contentment
How often do you just appreciate the things that you already have? Practicing contentment in life will not only help you to curb your spending, it will also help you to truly appreciate your life.
10. Find a partner
If you can find an accountability partner to check in with regularly, you’re more likely to hit your goal. Find a friend or perhaps a Facebook group of people with a common goal.
To make the most of this, consider what your most likely motivation would be. You can try:
- encouraging one another
- a friendly competition to see who can pay off the most debt
- sharing helpful tips with each other
11. Get visual
Print out a free printable thermometer. Each time you make a payment towards your debt, color in a square. Turn the entire thermometer red and reach your goal!
You can also create a vision board. Cut out or draw pictures of the things you want to be able to do once you are debt free.
12. Embrace minimalism
Do you ever feel like your objects own you rather than the other way around? If you’re overwhelmed by the amount of items you own, do a clean out. Get rid of anything you don’t absolutely need.
Once you’ve worked hard to clean a room, you won’t want to clutter it back up again. The next time you see an amazing deal to buy something at 75% off, you’ll walk away because you don’t want it taking up valuable space in your home.
13. Flex those creativity muscles
Do you really have to buy that “must have” thing? Get creative and find a better way. Repurpose something you already own. Borrow it from someone else. Buy it secondhand for a fraction of the cost. Or do without it.
My personal favorite this year has been our motto. #Yearofno has helped me make decisions easily. It’s meant that I didn’t owe people and explanation when I chose not to spend money. A simple motto can help you stay on track and meet your goal. You can read more about ours here.
These tips will help you stay motivated while you get debt free.
Choose your favorite method and use it to help you stay motivated in your journey to freedom from debt. And if you tire of one way, try another! It will be worth your hard work. Freedom is waiting for you on the other side.
What method has helped you keep going when you’re tired of paying off debt?