Paying off debt is more like a marathon than a sprint, especially for people like me who owe large amounts. My debt repayment journey will be spread out over the course of years, not months.
Dealing with this reality can be difficult. Over the years, you may change jobs, relationships, or move. A lot can happen, and it’s easy to lose momentum and succumb to debt fatigue. I’ve experienced this several times over the last seven years, and I know how frustrating it can be.
Luckily, with a little hard work, I’ve been able to overcome my hurdles and get back on the saddle.
Here’s how I did It.
Focus on the Big Picture
Debt fatigue usually occurs when you feel overwhelmed and tired of paying off debt. To get past the exhaustion, it’s important to focus on the big picture.
Taking small steps and being persistent will help you get out of debt. Remember, your debt is temporary. Start thinking about other important financial goals. Instead of honing in so closely on your debt, allow yourself to focus on your emergency fund and retirement. Imagine what you will do with the “extra” money once your debt is gone.
Consider what your life will look like five, ten and twenty years down the line. Jot down your thoughts and dreams and look back at them when you’re feeling particularly discouraged. Planning ahead can inspire your present.
Remember “The Why”
There are days when I want to give up on my debt repayment. When I just don’t want to think about money, my bills, my bank accounts — any of it.
Unfortunately, that’s not really possible while in debt. When I start to go down the rabbit hole and feel apathetic towards debt, I remind myself of “The Why”.
“The Why” is your big reason for wanting to be debt free. We all have our personal goals — maybe you want to buy a house, have a child, go on a road trip, or live out a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. For me, it’s all about feeling financially secure and traveling. I dream of the day when I don’t have to worry so much, or feel like all my hard earned money is going to debt. I yearn for far away places that I know only from pictures and postcards.
I’m confident I will get there. Eventually. By reminding myself, I’m able to keep my personal mission in focus.
Make Room for Rewards
Some people believe you must eliminate everything fun until you’re out of debt. I’m not one of those people.
I think you should always celebrate the big wins with small rewards. Set up a system that’s based on your goals, so you can treat yourself down the line. For instance, take yourself out on a date after you pay off $1000. Splurge on a massage after you hit that $5,000 mark.
I’ve done the math, and a few extra indulgences will hardly set you back. Including some fun in your long term plan is the only way to sustain long-term success.
Pay Off Debt Like It’s a Game
If you’re feeling sick and tired of debt, start thinking of it as a game. Who can finish first?
Surround yourself with like-minded and focused individuals, either online or in person. Acknowledge that you are a debt-fighting warrior and you will win this game. Remember, getting out of debt is more about your attitude than your finances. While money is part of it, your money mindset contributes hugely to your success.
As you start to implement these steps, you’ll feel less bogged down with the realities of debt (I know I did!). While paying off debt is never fun, it doesn’t have to be a life sentence. You can jumpstart your payments, stay positive, and use these tips to sustain yourself in the journey.