You don’t have to be stuck on the highway to debt hell forever.

4 minute read

Are you lugging around a massive debt that seems like it will plague you the rest of your life? If so, it’s tempting to give up paying, or pay only the minimum, especially when a large amount of debt seems nearly impossible to pay off. But people pay off big debts all the time.

Those former debtors don’t have a magical strategy or a genius IQ to thank for their new financial freedom. More likely, they had to believe that paying off debt was possible – and then knock down mental roadblocks that kept them from getting to a zero balance.

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1. The amount is overwhelming

The amount is overwhelming

Maybe the albatross around your neck is $40,000 in student loans or thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Even a $500 credit card balance can seem overwhelming. Ignoring the debt, however, won’t make it disappear.

In fact, the debt will grow if you stop paying or barely budge if you’re making only minimum payments. If you don’t see an end in sight with your current payment plan, make an appointment with a nonprofit credit counselor to create a payoff plan and timeline that will work.

2. I’ll have to deprive myself

I’ll have to deprive myself

Yes, you’ll have to give up a few indulgences like going out to eat regularly and blowing $200 every weekend going out with friends to pay your debt off. However, when the debt is paid, just think of how much extra money you’ll have to spend on whatever you please.

Instead of seeing this frugal period as deprivation, think of it as a way to make your life better in six months, a year or even a few years. You’ll have a goal and increased motivation, especially when you witness money you’d have otherwise blown making a dent in your balance.

3. My credit is already ruined, so what’s the use?

My credit is already ruined, so what’s the use?

It’s easy to fall behind on payments or ditch creditors because you don’t have the money to make payments. Past-due payments can sink your credit score, causing you to worry that you’ll never be able to get a credit card or loan again. But don’t resign yourself to a life of buy-here-pay-here car lots and predatory lenders.

Late payment history stays on your credit report for only up to seven years, so if you start making on-time payments now, you’ll start building a better credit history. Meanwhile, older late-payment histories will drop off as time passes. Within seven years – or sooner, depending on the dates of past-due payments ­listed on your credit report – your credit can be in fine shape again.

4. I don’t know where to begin

I don’t know where to begin

When you owe several creditors, it’s tough to know where to even begin paying them off. Besides, if you had enviable personal finance skills, you probably wouldn’t be in a position where you feel trapped by too much debt.

Don’t waste time beating yourself up for not knowing how to manage money. Instead, visit a nonprofit credit counseling agency, where a counselor can help you create a monthly budget and long-term payoff plan.

5. I don’t earn enough to pay off my debt

I don’t earn enough to pay off my debt

If you don’t make enough money to make larger payments each month, you need to take action or you’ll be stuck on the debt treadmill for years. You may not want to take a second job, but that’s the best way to pay off debt fast.

What if you got a part-time job working just a couple nights a week? That way, you could earn an extra $500 or more each month. Then take that money and put it towards your debt. Before you know it, you’ll have a clean debt slate again.

6. My friends will think I’m a deadbeat

My friends will think I’m a deadbeat

When you get serious about paying debt, you won’t have as much money for dinners out, movies, travel and other stuff you do with friends. So, you’ll probably have to come clean about why you’re not as available. Will people judge you? Maybe.

More likely, your friends will ‘fess up that they also have too much debt. You may even inspire them to get serious, too. Meanwhile, allow yourself an occasional movie matinee or lunch special with the worthwhile friends who stick around while you improve your life.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC