Paying off debt sounds great in theory. Initially you’re all revved up, ready to pinch every penny possible and pare down your pile of bills. You may steadily pay down debt for a few weeks or even a few months, and then it happens.
Frugal fatigue creeps in and your once bright outlook changes. While you initially happily sought bargain brand toothpaste and waited for a coupon to your favorite restaurant, now you’re just downright cranky and tempted to buy something frivolous, or just give up all together.
Before you make a financial move you’ll regret later, stay motivated to keep your debt-reduction plan on track by trying the following techniques.
Visualize yourself with less debt
Picture yourself paying your bills every month and not having to make certain payments. Experiencing the freeing sensation that comes from not having certain expenses weighing you down is likely to give you the energy you need to keep walking the debt-reduction path.
Find a debt buddy
Dieters and exercisers use this technique all of the time. Find someone who is also trying to pay off debt and agree to motivate and inspire each other. Help one another from slipping and spending, and celebrate when you meet debt reduction goals.
Set milestones along your debt reduction path and treat yourself when you reach each goal. Try inexpensive rewards that won’t derail your debt-reduction plan like a trip to the coffee shop, a movie or a new book.
Do the math
Discover what the amount of money you’re paying in interest every month will add up to in the future, and then picture that money in your savings account. Think of all the great things you can do with the interest savings, and you’re likely to feel motivated to stay on track with your debt-reduction plan.
Get inspired by others
Reading or listening to inspirational accounts of individuals who paid off seemingly insurmountable debt invigorates you to keep on pinching. If you hear of someone who had much more debt to pay off than you do, it makes you realize that your goals are doable and that keeps you inspired.
Picture your financial future
Imagine what your financial life is like one, five, even 10 years from now. What are you doing? Have you paid off your debt and are you now living in your dream home? Are you on vacation lounging in a hammock overlooking the ocean? Taking the time to picture yourself enjoying the results of a debt-reduced future helps keep you on track today.
Record your progress
Keep yourself invigorated to pay down debt by watching your progress. Use one of the many online visual tools, such as graphs, to record your debt reduction. Watching the debt portion of your pie chart decrease and the savings portion grow motivates you to keep chipping away at the debt. Open up these visual reminders whenever you feel the urge to give up on your debt reduction plan.
How quickly can you pay off debt? Are you able to use 15 to 20 percent of your take-home pay to make extra payments? If you aren’t certain, start out small with 5 percent and challenge yourself to raise the percentage each month until you reach your goal.
Ignore the naysayers
Friends and family members may get annoyed with your quest to cut back and pay off debt, especially if it interferes with their plans. If you usually go on an annual vacation that you decide to skip this year in order to put the money toward debt reduction, expect some disappointment, but don’t let it stop you from reaching your debt-reduction goals.
Do you have any favorite tricks for motivating yourself to pay off debt?
Photo Credit: Tim & Selena Middleton