We’re already halfway through the year! Can you believe it?
How are you doing on your New Year’s Resolutions?
If it’s time to reassess and re-start, then I’ve got five tips to help you stay motivated when getting out of debt.
It’s easy to lose motivation when you’ve got a long road ahead. It can feel like you’ll neeeevveeerrr be debt-free, right?
By following these strategies, you’ll not only keep going on your debt-free journey, but you’ll have fun on your journey, and before you know it, you’ll achieve total debt freedom!
So that’s my first tip —
Make it fun!
As the saying goes, success is a journey, not a destination. You can think of your debt freedom goal in the same way.
Who wants to be on a boring journey without adventure or excitement?
If you currently think of slashing your spending, working overtime, and selling things left and right as something you have to do, try a different approach.
In his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen R. Covey stated, “Happiness can be defined, in part at least, as the fruit of the desire and ability to sacrifice what we want now for what we want eventually.”
Think about that for a second — Happiness can be defined as the desire and ability to sacrifice what we want now for what we want eventually.
It’s not the sacrifice that brings joy, but the DESIRE and ABILITY to make those sacrifices because of what they will mean for your family later.
Focus on the outcome of your sacrifice over the long-term.
Focus on the outcome of your sacrifice over the long-term.
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Each time we’ve made an extra payment toward our debt, we get great pleasure from knowing that our debt total is now that much less.
And even when we only make the minimum payment, we still take pride in the fact that we’re one payment closer to being debt-free and happily watch our total debt balance go down.
Here are some other ways you can make it fun:
Make it a game to see how much you can cut your grocery bill compared to last month.
Maybe you decide that if you don’t spend any money on coffee this month, you’ll give yourself a home manicure and pedicure.
Get the kids involved too.
If they help you clip coupons and plan your weekly grocery trip, then plan a fun family movie night next weekend (renting a DVD from Redbox, or better yet, watching one of the DVDs you own and haven’t watched in a while). Make homemade pizzas and brownies with ingredients you already have.
You don’t have to wait until your debt is gone to have fun. You can enjoy the ride now.
When we started our debt-free journey, we gave ourselves eight years to pay off $320,000 of debt.
Paying off that much debt and making sacrifices for that long can be overwhelming to anyone. We tried to avoid the feeling of overwhelm by focusing on one debt at a time.
Maybe you’ve crunched the numbers and you estimate that it will take you three years to pay off your student loans.
Instead of focusing on the huge amount of student loan debt you have or the three long years it will take to achieve your goal, focus on your smallest student loan first and make that your mini-goal. (This is called the debt snowball method.) Shoot to pay off that loan as quick as you can and then celebrate when you do before moving on to the next biggest loan.
Or you could make paying off a certain amount of debt within the next three or six months your mini-goal.
Shooting for that smaller, more realistic goal will help you keep going.
You could also break it down even further. Calculate how much you need to pay off on average each month to reach your shorter-term goal. Focus on how you can slash your spending and bring in extra income so that you can pay that amount toward your debt this month.
And come up with an inexpensive way to celebrate when you meet each mini-goal. Give yourself something to look forward to in addition to paying off that huge chunk of debt.
Track your progress
This one might seem obvious, but I’m surprised at how often I work with people who have been struggling to gain traction on their goal to become debt-free, and they don’t even know how much debt they HAVE paid off.
Oftentimes when we calculate how much debt they’ve paid off since starting their journey, they’re pleasantly surprised at the progress they HAVE made, and then they don’t feel so discouraged.
So get clear on your starting point, and then track your progress going forward.
For me, this is the part I look forward to the most. The first day of the month I update our debt snowball and calculate not only how much debt we have left to pay off, but I focus my excitement on the total amount of debt we have ALREADY paid off.
Continue the theme of making it fun, and create a graph or chart to fill in with your kids.
I give my clients who work with me a Debt Freedom Roadmap Tracker that they can personalize with their own mini-goals and fill in as they make progress toward their goals.
Imagine what life will be like when you’re debt-free and all the hard work has paid off. What will you do to celebrate once you’ve met your goal? How will life be different?
Alternatively, what will life be like if you lose focus and give up?
If you stop now, what will life look like in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years? Will you still be struggling? Will you still be telling your kids and yourself that you “can’t afford it?”
What about when it’s time to send your kids to college or time for you to retire? Will you be able to achieve those goals if you go back to your old ways?
Every time I get discouraged, I think of the path that I’m on and compare it to the alternative way of life. Then I refocus, recommit, and do something to take action that will bring me closer to my goal.
Surround yourself with inspiration
This can be in the form of success stories of others who have gotten out of debt, like the ones I share on my blog and YouTube channel.
Here are some of my favorites:
How a Family of 7 Paid Off $137,000 of Debt in 4 Years
How One Couple Found Financial Freedom by Paying Off $500,000 of Debt
Dontae and Laura’s Debt Free Story
Miriam’s Journey Out of Debt and In to the Life of Her Dreams
But it can also be in the form of quotes of wisdom.
Here’s one of my favorites that has kept me going whenever I’m lacking motivation on one of my goals:
Earl Nightingale said, “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”
Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. Earl Nightingale
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Isn’t that so true?
The time is going to pass by anyway so why not spend the time working toward a dream that will dramatically improve your life, like breaking free from debt?
When my husband and I started our journey, we gave ourselves eight years to reach our goal of total debt freedom. That was nearly three years ago, and looking back, the time has flown by.
The truth is that you can achieve almost anything you want in life. Most goals will take time, perseverance, and relentless focus to achieve. But the journey doesn’t have to be dreary and painful.
Make it fun, set mini-goals, track your progress, get imaginative, and surround yourself with stories and wisdom that will inspire you to keep going.
Before you know it, you’ll be crossing your first mini-goal off your list, and before long, you’ll be making your final payment on your last debt.
If you need help getting started on your debt-free journey, check out my Work With Me page to find out how I can help! Or you can schedule a time to chat with me by clicking here.
Now I’d love to hear about you!
How do you stay motivated when working toward your goals? Which strategies can you use to help stay focused on your goal of debt freedom? Please share in the comments below.
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Join me in our private Facebook group called Your Debt Freedom Family, where I share more tips like this. We’ve got an energetic community of people who are kicking debt to the curb so they can break free and live life on their terms.
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I’d love to see you there!
Keep moving forward toward your goals. You really can live the life you dream about!