THE STRUGGLE IS REAL WHEN PAYING OFF DEBT!
When you first start paying off any amount of debt, big or small, it feels great. You may be able to breeze through your smallest debts, and with each one you eliminate, you feel that rush. Immediate progress!
The truth is it becomes more challenging as you get into the larger debts. It may feel like you are getting nowhere, even though you are still making progress. You're tired of saving, stretching a dollar, working long hours, and making sacrifices.
This is debt burnout, and you have to push through it - remember your WHY!
Debt burnout is completely normal and expected.
It's that feeling of being tired of your day-to-day routine or annoyed with the lack of flexibility in your budget. You're frustrated and ready to give up. At this point, you are deep in the "I want steak, but all I get is this chicken" mentality. Years of living a caviar life on a tuna fish budget made it especially difficult for me to push through when all I wanted to do was jump ship and splurge on expensive takeout.
BUT REMEMBER - Debt is an easy hole to fall into and an easy hole to climb out of as long as you stay focused and stay motivated. Becoming debt free will not happen overnight!
Here are some tips on how to stay motivated during debt payoff.
Listen to other people's debt free stories - I'm not really a big Dave Ramsey guy. I tend to think he is a little loud and obnoxious, but I absolutely love the debt free shout outs at the beginning of his podcast. There are tons of other stories online to hear success stories from people in various situations with different amounts of debt. Hearing the joy and relief in their voices helps me imagine hitting my goals.
Take a break and find frugal ways to have fun - Use your newfound frugal learning to develop low cost hobbies. Our family has bonded over puzzles and board games, which we then swap with friends and family. For more ideas, jump over to 10 Highly Effective Habits of Frugal People.
Celebrate the wins - Pick a target and reward yourself when you hit it! For my husband, he wanted (really needed) a new laptop but committed to buying it only when we hit the $20k milestone. Instead of replacing his 10-year-old MacBook with another expensive Apple, he downgraded to a more budget-friendly option. For me, it was ordering a few new shirts for work (Jane.com for the win) and a new book.
Talk about your struggles with others - I use this blog as an outlet. Find your outlet or dive into personal finance books. The more you talk and learn, the more normal your struggles will feel. It's easier to hold yourself accountable and stay on track when you are talking to others about paying off debt. The key is surrounding yourself with supportive and positive people to encourage you along the way. I would love to hear from you and help if I can, even if it's just to offer support and cheer you on!
Stay motivated with money challenges - Target the areas where you are trying to save the most money or pay down debt, and incorporate monthly and/or year long challenges into your plan. We are set to start our first monthly budget challenge next month. If you are looking for a challenge, check out our Financial Fitness in 2021 to see which amount fits your budget.
You don't need someone like Dave Ramsey to tell you debt is bad. You already know that paying off debt comes down to decreasing your expenses and/or increasing your income.
If you put in the hard work, push through the burnout, and stay focused and motivated, you can reach your goals without having to give up the things you love.
Do you have any milestones to celebrate? Tell me in the comments below. I'd love to cheer you on!
What about any tips on how you prevent debt burnout? I'd love to hear from you and incorporate those into our journey! Shout it out in the comments below.