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Do you know when to be patient — and when to be angry?

4 minute read

How can you stay motivated when paying off debt? Follow these tips to keep up with your hard work so you can reach your goals.

Paying off debt is not easy. You start out with great determination and will power to make it happen. As each month comes and goes, you see your money going out the window — all towards the debt.

However, you aren’t seeing the balances drop as quickly as you would like. It is easy to lose steam and want to quit.

So, what do you do to stay motivated when paying off debt?

My experience

When my husband and I were trying to get out of debt, there were times when we wanted to quit. However, we were both determined to stick with it and not give up.

Sadly, that is not true for many. People get excited at the idea of getting out of debt, but they never follow through. For one reason or another, they lose the motivation to continue.

This means that they go back to their old habits and often times, end up even further in debt. It is sad, but it is true. They lost the will to stay the course.

Where do you start?

First of all, you have to be willing and fully committed to wanting to be debt free. If you aren’t willing to make sacrifices, that means you are not quite ready to start. If you try, you will probably fail.

However, if you are ready and willing to put in the hard work involved you might be ready. You need to fully understand that this process is going to take some time. It took my husband and I more than 2 years to get out of our debt. It may take a while – but it will happen.

Ways to stay motivated

1. Cheat once in a while. When you are trying to pay off your debt with laser focus, you might start to feel a bit of resentment towards it. After all, that is your money and you see none of it. Instead, it moves right over to your debtor. You never get to enjoy it.

You need to spend money once in a while.

When you allow yourself a chance to go out to dinner or buy that new pair of shoes, you will continue to stay motivated. It allows you to take the focus off of your debt for a short time and put it on yourself.

For example, when my husband and I were in paying off our debt, we did not eat out at restaurants. We gave that up completely. However, each time that we paid off a creditor we were able to go out to dinner. It allowed us to celebrate. We had one cheat night and then were ready to get back on track again.

Just don’t do this very often, or you’ll end up quitting and up spending more than you should.

2. Be accountable. Whether you are in a relationship or not, you need to find someone to whom you can be accountable. Call them an accountability partner.

The journey to being debt-free can be a long and lonely adventure. Finding the right person to support you along the way can be vital to reaching your goals.

This person could be a friend or family member. While you might want to use a spouse or partner, they may not be the best person. You really should find someone who has been on this path themselves and reached the end. Someone who is debt-free and battled to make it happen can provide much more support than someone drowning in debt.

3. Dream. Sit down and look at your finances. Imagine all of the things you could do if you were not living with looming debt. Perhaps you could afford that car you want. It might even mean being able to quit your job and stay home with the kids.

4. Change your habits. Look at your debt. What caused you to end up there. If was due to spending too much at Target, it means you need to stop.

You have to change your habits by creating a budget and a debt plan. Take it further and change the way you spend your free time. It won’t be easy, but no one said getting out of debt was going to be simple.

It is not an easy thing to do, but find a way to focus your energy from the things that created the debt to other things you enjoy. Try to find the joy in the simple things, which cost no money at all.

Looking beyond the debt can definitely help you stay motivated.

5. Get angry. You need to hate your debt. Look at your bills and add up the money you are wasting on interest payments every month. Just seeing the money you waste will make you angry. Heck, it might even make you nauseated. Good.

Hate the debt and you’ll want to make it go away.

6. Daily reminder. Put the total of your debt on your mirror. As you pay them down, update it with the new amount. Every day you will see that you are making progress. You will see where you were and where you have to go.

7. Continue to learn. Just because you read one article about how to get out of debt doesn’t mean you are an expert. If you were, you would probably have never gotten into debt in the first place.

Keep reading and learning. Follow your favorite bloggers and read their tips to getting out of debt.

8. Be patient. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Your debt didn’t accumulate in just a month. It took time. That means it will take time to pay it off.

If you are doing all you can to do get of debt, then there’s no more you can do. Just look forward to the day you get to scream that you are debt-free!

9. Network with others. I mentioned an accountability partner above and that is great, but what do you do if you can’t find one? Easy. Look to others who understand.

With social media, it is easy to find people who are in your situation. They may be on Facebook or Twitter. You might find them in the comments of personal finance blogs. Look around for those who are making progress and network with them.

We all need help with this journey. There is no rule that says you have to be best friends with them to get the motivation and support you need.

10. Read success stories. There is nothing more motivating than reading about others who have accomplished their goals. Reading about ordinary people who paid down thousands of dollars of debt can be inspiring.

Visit many personal finance blogger websites and you’ll often find their stories of success. You might even get a new idea from them to change what you are doing.

This post is courtesy of Tracie at Penny Pinchin’ Mom.

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About the Author’s writers are journalists, personal finance experts, and certified credit counselors. Their advice about money – how to make it, how to save it, and how to spend it – is based on, collectively, a century of personal finance experience. They’ve been featured in media outlets ranging from The New York Times to USA Today, from Forbes to FOX News, and from MSN to CBS.

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