Getting out of debt isn’t an overnight success. Sometimes, it may feel as though it’s taking forever, and you might struggle with motivation as you move through the process. Thankfully, there are things you can do to help you stay motivated even when the getting-out-of-debt process seems to be taking an eternity. Try some of these strategies to keep your motivation up even when it’s difficult.
1. Celebrate Small Milestones
The little milestones in the debt payoff process matter just as much as the big ones. Celebrate when you reach them! Maybe you’ve finally paid off the credit card with the lowest balance, or a certain type of debt. Perhaps you’ve just had your first paycheck when you didn’t have to go into debt to get through the week. Whatever milestone you’ve reached, give yourself permission to celebrate–just not in a way that involves spending more money.
2. Allow Yourself Some Play Money
There’s nothing more frustrating than a budget that doesn’t allow you any freedom whatsoever. If you never have any spending money at all, you’ll be more tempted to cheat. After all, you’ve been working hard. Doesn’t that mean you deserve it? Unfortunately, that’s one of the fastest ways to get your debt snowball off track. Instead, build some play money into your budget. This will allow you to more effectively manage your budget long-term.
3. Review Your Goals
Why are you trying to get out of debt? What was your motivation for it in the first place? Take a good, long look at those goals on a regular basis, especially if you’re tempted to “cheat” or if you seem to be getting off track. By reviewing your goals on a regular basis, you can remain focused, making it easier for you to meet those goals.
4. Have Someone to Help You Stay Accountable
Being accountable on your own is hard. If you know you have to check in with someone on a regular basis, however, you’ll be more likely to stick to your overall financial goals. Consider checking in with a mentor who can help guide you to more responsible financial decisions, or partnering with a friend who is also trying to get out of debt.
Keep in mind that you need an accountability partner who will genuinely help you stay accountable: like the always-dieting friend who is constantly having “just one little cheat meal,” a debt-payoff partner who frequently goes on a spending spree won’t be able to help you meet your goals.
5. Keep Track of Your Progress
Maybe there aren’t a lot of milestones along the way, particularly if you’re paying down one big chunk of debt instead of a lot of small ones. Your progress, however, will quickly start to show, especially if you look at that progress over time. Where were you when you started paying down your debt? Where are you now? A look at the bigger picture can help you stay motivated to keep improving, rather than falling off the wagon.
6. Learn to Evaluate Short-Term Wants against Long-Term Goals
It’s hardest to stay motivated to pay down debt when you’re facing serious temptation. You could just put that new pair of shoes or that new piece of sports equipment on your credit card, right? Those purchases, however, will typically bring only short-term satisfaction before you start yearning for the next thing that you could purchase. Instead of falling into that trap, weigh your short-term desires against your long-term goals. In the end, you’ll be grateful the long-term goals win out.
Keeping motivated as you move toward financial freedom isn’t easy, but it’s well worth it. With these strategies, you can help keep your motivation high and make it easier to turn down fast, expensive purchases as you pay down debt. Imagine what your life will look like with financial freedom–and then do what you need to do to seize it.
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