How To Stay Motivated Whilst Paying Off Debt
You’ve added up all of the debt that you owe, worked out in which order you are going to pay them, moved to better interest rates, created a budget that Dave Ramsey would be proud of, started earning extra money on the side, and are absolutely GOOD TO GO with getting rid of that debt!
But hang on a second, it’s going to take how long?! When you’ve really sat down and crunched out the numbers, you should know how long it is going to take you to pay it all off and have a debt free date on the calendar. However, it can be a lot further away than you were expecting.
That’s a lot of hard work and sacrifice, for quite a long time. The amount of time it will take can be quite surprising, but don’t worry – and please don’t let it put you off your journey. There are a few ways that I can share with you that will hopefully ensure that you stay patient with your journey and enjoy it as much as you can!
Find people who are doing the same thing
This is more important than you realise. If you have recently decided to pay off debt, you will have probably made some lifestyle changes such as not going out as much, working a lot more, and you may notice that some of your immediate friends and family can be confused by this.
They may not be going through the same thing themselves, or they may not mind only paying the minimum amount towards their debts, but you are likely to meet some resistance. It can be especially hard when your close friends and family are doing much better than you financially and don’t have the same worries. They still want to do all of the same old things that you’ve done together, and think that because you aren’t doing them you aren’t as much fun, and you are depriving yourself.
Neither of these is true. Contrary to popular belief, you can still have a lot of fun for little to no money – and a lot of the time, it turns out to be even more fun! Paying off debt may mean that you aren’t able to spend money in the same way that you have been previously – but this is not a bad thing.
If your spending is the reason why you are in debt, then stopping that habit is something to be proud of – not ashamed.
I would definitely recommend that you find some like-minded people to support you on your journey. Ask around – ask your friends, family, co-workers – if they are going through anything similar or if they know of anyone who is. Another great thing that you can do and I will always recommend is to find some debt free blogs. Following along with someone else’s progress is encouraging, and you should be able to pick up some handy tips as well.
If you’ve read my blog before you will know that I am a big fan of Instagram – I think it’s one of the best places that you can hang out if you are embarking on any kind of journey (I see weight loss ones on there, that kind of thing!) – and there are some amazing debt free accounts which you should definitely follow. And make sure that you’re following me on there as well of course!
We are visual creatures, so it can help to create something for you to look at and see your progress on in black and white, to keep you motivated. There are few things as satisfying as watching your debt balance go down!
There are plenty of things that you can do visually to keep you motivated on this journey, such as:
- Create a vision board. Fill it with whatever you want – but some good things could be inspirational quotes (who doesn’t love a good quote?!), photos of things that you want to do once you are debt free e.g. a holiday.
- Use a debt tracker. You can make your own or download some – there are loads out there if you google it, or search on Pinterest. I’ve created one for you to use which you can download and print off at the bottom of this post.
- Use a bullet journal.
- Use apps
- Write it on a blackboard wall
- Use paper – you could either create a paper chain and take off a link every time
Find inexpensive hobbies
Once you have decided to pay off debt, you will (hopefully!) cut down on all of your expenses, and that means stopping doing all of the things that you have been doing regularly, such as dining out with friends, going shopping etc. It can be difficult to adjust to a dramatic lifestyle change, which is why I would recommend finding other things to occupy your time. There are a lot of things that you can do for fun that are free or cheap, such as:
- Writing (start a blog!)
- Start a side business
Start a Journal
Not just helpful for paying off debt, but in every day life as well. There are various journals out there, with some options being bullet journalling, writing one line per day, or just keeping a diary of your thoughts on each day with your goals included.
It may not sound that important in achieving your goals, but writing down what has happened each day will be useful for you to look back on and see what happened, and if there are any bad patterns. It will help you be more connected to your goals, and therefore more likely to achieve them if you think about them daily and write down what has happened towards it.
I don’t know about you, but when I put my thoughts down on paper, I get a lot more clarification and my thoughts are clearer. I have so many things running through my mind, so writing it all done is amazing for clarity. This will help you stay motivated towards paying off your debt because it will keep you focused on the goal.
If you haven’t heard of bullet journaling, it’s something that is very popular at the moment – it’s a way of being organised, where you can keep all of your to do lists, goals, trackers etc, and customise it however you wish. I have seen many colourful and visually appealing bullet journals, and it’s defeinitely something that I am going to try myself!
Create smaller goals
If you look at your debt as one huge number, it can be quite overwhelming and scary! It doesn’t need to be that way though, and I definitely recommend breaking it down into smaller chunks. It makes it more manageable and will feel good on the journey that you are going on.
It’s up to you how you break it down, but break down your debt amount into much smaller, easier chunks. Depending on the amount, you could break it down like £100, or £1000, etc. Look at how often you want to reach your goals, maybe every month? Every few months?
When I was paying off my debt, I personally did it in terms of tackling each debt individually. The debts weren’t massive separately, and I used the debt snowball method where I paid the minimum amounts on the debts with the smallest % of interest, and tackled the one with the biggest amount of interest first.
This is also when something like bullet journals can come in handy, because you can create your own visual processes for your debt, and also debt trackers where you can cross off or colour in various stages of debt as you go along.
Get an accountability partner
This is something that I regret not doing, and if I did it all again I would get an accountability partner. This can be done by reaching out to those close to you, or reach out to someone on social media, such as the debt free community over on Instagram.
Getting an accountability partner will help you in so many ways. When you are on your debt payment journey, it can feel isolating and lonely, especially if you have no-one close to you going through the same thing. Having an accountability partner will be great for keeping you motivated and encouraged on your journey – it’ll be like having your own personal cheerleader! You can do the same for them as well, it’s a two way street of mutual support and understanding.
If you are going through a rough patch or something has come up that will derail your budget (unfortunately, this is likely! Boooo) moaning to your close friends won’t have the same effect if they just look at you with a puzzled look on your face and say things like “just put it on the credit card”!
It can be easy to slip back into old habits, but if you have someone to keep you on track, you are much more likely to be successful on your journey.
Celebrate your wins along the way
Ok, I have to admit this is something that I was bad at, but it’s something I recommend you do, as I should have done it! I’m not suggesting that you go crazy and spend a ton of money, but do something small that will mean something to you. We work best when we have things to look forward to, and this instance is no exception.
Some ideas could be: having a bottle of prosecco, going out for a meal, buying something small that you’ve had your eye on, enjoying a day out with the kids, a cinema trip, etc. You decide what works best for you – but make sure that you have an idea in mind of what you want to do!
What are your best tips to stay motivated whilst paying off debt?