Debt. The word alone can elicit a shiver down the spine. Whether it’s credit card bills, student loans, or that pesky mortgage, the burden of debt can sometimes feel like an ever-looming cloud. But there’s hope.
Just as you’ve found ways to earn, save, and splurge, you can discover strategies to stay motivated while you chip away at your financial obligations. (This is where you can exhale a sigh of relief).
To help keep you on track, I’ve compiled a list of 5 ways to help you stay motivated on your debt free journey!
1. Have a clear vision.
There’s no denying it – when you have a clear vision of what you’re shooting for, you’ll be motivated to stay with the process. It’s time to get clear on the real reason you want to become debt free. Some people call this their “why.” Some people call it their “dream.” I don’t care what you call it, as long as you have one!
Sit down and think about WHY you are wanting to become debt free. What do you want your life to look like once you reach this goal? Is your goal to never again fight about money with your spouse? Maybe you want to pay for your kids’ college. Or hey, what about that big trip to New Zealand that you’ve always dreamed of?! Keep your vision in the forefront of your mind.
This will help you stay motivated while paying off debt, even when it becomes difficult. It will remind you why you’re sacrificing now so that you can reap the rewards later.
Write down your vision on a notecard and post it on your bathroom mirror. Make it the screensaver on your phone. Do whatever it takes to refer back to your clear vision as often as possible!
2. Break your goals down into manageable pieces.
When we first started our debt free journey, the idea of paying off over $111,000 worth of student loans and car loans felt daunting. Heck, it felt impossible. In that moment we had a choice. We could choose to run away from the idea of becoming debt free, or we could power through. We could either keep living the way that we were, or change everything we were used to so that we could reach a goal that others told us was impossible.
At the beginning of our journey, I had to break down that huge amount of debt into manageable pieces. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to stay motivated while paying off debt!
Instead of looking at the huge amount of debt we had, I broke it down into monthly payoff goals. I made it my goal to pay off at least $2,000 each month of debt. I would pat myself on the back when I could exceed that number.
I don’t know about you, but focusing on paying off just $2,000 is less daunting than focusing on paying off $111,000 of debt.
To help you stay motivated, break down your big goal into small goals. Set a goal for how much debt you want to pay off in one year. Then, break that goal down into monthly goals. You’ll see that breaking this down into manageable pieces will keep you motivated and you’ll realize that even if you’re just putting one foot in front of the other, you’re still making amazing progress!
3. Visually track your debt payoff.
Chances are you have a big job ahead of you! I’m guessing you have a good amount of debt that you want to tackle. And yes, that can be daunting. That’s why it’s so important to visually track your progress.
There’s going to come a moment in this journey when you’ve forgotten all the progress that you’ve made. There’s going to come a time when you want to give up.
And when that happens, I want you to go back and look at how far you’ve come! There’s something so powerful about being able to truly see how much debt you’ve paid off. As you color in the lines of a thermometer (or any tracking page of your choice), you’ll be motivated to keep going.
Hang your tracking page somewhere you’ll see it every single day. Don’t keep it closed in a binder. Don’t hide it on the side of the fridge. Instead, post it where your eyes will fall on it every single day. When we were paying off debt, I kept our tracker inside our bedroom closet. It was the perfect place because I went there every day, but it was a place our guests never visited!
4. Hold weekly family meetings.
Every single Sunday my husband and I have a weekly family business meeting. We talk about all the things. Our topics range from the meal plan for the week to any activities/meetings that are on the schedule. However, we also set financial and personal goals for the week.
I absolutely love (and look forward!) to this time that we have set in our schedule. It helps us stay on the same page with our family’s schedule and focus on goals we have. This is also when we review our budget, talk about our spending, and discuss savings goals.
This is the PERFECT time each week for you and your spouse (or entire family) to review your debt payoff. It’s a good way to see what’s working and where you need to make improvements. Every few months you can color in your debt payoff tracker during these meetings.
Having dedicated time for your family to discuss finances is a great way to stay motivated and refer back to your vision together. It’s something that I wish we had started much sooner in our family!
5. Take a break.
This might seem counterintuitive, but remember: you’re not a machine. Occasionally, the mental weight of debt can become overwhelming. In such moments, it’s okay to take a short hiatus. Whether that means treating yourself to a modest dinner out or simply refraining from checking your accounts for a day, these breathers can rejuvenate your spirit. The journey to being debt-free is a marathon, not a sprint.
The Bottom Line
Paying off debt is as much a mental challenge as it is a financial one. While the numbers might seem daunting, motivation is your intangible asset.
Harnessing the power of vision, breaking down goals, visually tracking progress, garnering support, and recognizing the need for respite can make the journey not only bearable but invigorating.
Remember, every dollar paid off is one step closer to your dream. Stay motivated, and watch the magic unfold.