Paying off debt is no easy task! You sacrifice and do without, you get discouraged, and sometimes you even want to give up. It’s hard! I know! I’ve been there!
We know that we need to change our behavior, cut back our lifestyle, + find some extra money in order to get our debt paid off. The problem is trying to keep this new behavior up + stay motivated while we get this debt paid off.
I know that becoming debt free isn’t easy….but you know what?
If it was easy, everyone would do it.
Statistics tell us that 78% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
What if we could change that number? What if all you really needed to not become just another statistic was a little bit of motivation?
I’m going to share with you 8 simple tips that have helped me, and thousands of others who have read this popular blog post, stay motivated!
Hit play to watch the video version of this blog!
My 8 simple tips:
1. Find your “why”
The first, and foremost important thing in any life changing effort to figure out why you’re doing it.
- Why do you want your life to be different?
- Why do you need to change?
- What do you want your future to look like?
Once you figure out why you want to get out of debt, then all you have to do is continue to focus on that reason. That reason is what will get you through the hardest days. You have to stay focused on the bigger picture and the ultimate outcome. For us, our “why” has been to live a life of less stress, pay for our kids to go college, and to allow my husband to retire at a young age from his job that keeps him gone half of the year. Anytime we get discouraged we refocus on these reasons, and we realize that retirement is more important than dinner at a restaurant or new clothes.
So what’s your why?
2. Establish a plan and stick to it
We got serious about tracking our spending + living on a budget. This new lifestyle allowed us to cash flow through $58,000 worth of debt, and ditch another $167,000 through the sale of two pieces of real estate, giving us a total of about $225,000 paid off in 3 years.
We created a Debt Payoff Plan by lining up all of our debt from smallest to largest, throwing all of our extra money at our smallest debt first, then once it was paid off we started applying all or our extra money towards the next smallest, and continuing until it was all paid off! This process is what made our journey so successful because it builds momentum like crazy. Once you see that smallest debt disappear you’ll get a rush and a sense of accomplishment, that feeling is what will keep you hanging on throughout the rest of the process. Stick to this plan! It works!
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3. Work towards your debt free goals every day
It’s hard to lose focus when it’s all you’re thinking about. When you’re working towards your goal every single day you have no choice but to keep it in the front of your mind. You have to become obsessed with it. Your whole life has to revolve around this now!
It kept me motivated to do something every day that moved us closer to our goals. I’m not one to just sit and wait, I felt much more motivated when I was being active. As a stay at home mom that usually meant clipping coupons, staying within budget on every purchase, working on our budget frequently throughout the month, finding things to sell, making craft items to sell, babysitting, and finding side jobs for a few hours here and there; anything to help me feel like I was actively working towards our goal.
4. Use visuals
Keeping your eye on the prize will definitely keep you motivated, so take advantage of visuals.
Here’s a few visual ideas:
Make a Goals Sheet. Create a list of a few short term and long term goals, a date you want to accomplish them, and how much money they’ll take. Writing them down will help you commit to actually accomplishing them.
Look at your debt total each day. I’ve even heard of people writing their debt total on their daily “to do” list or hanging it on their refrigerator so they’ll be reminded of their goal throughout their day.
Fill jars. Use two Mason Jars and fill them with something small like rocks, pieces of paper, beads, or pennies. One jar represents what you still owe and the other jar represents what you’ve already paid off. Transfer the rocks from one jar to the other as you pay down the debt. Each rock could symbolize $50, $100, $1,000, or whatever amount you choose.
Use coloring charts. Check out debtfreecharts.com or create your own chart. Use these charts to color in a line each time you pay off a certain amount of debt. These charts are extremely helpful when staying motivated, and they can be applied to any type of debt.
Get creative and make your own visuals. I’ve seen so many great ideas on Google and Pinterest throughout the years. Have fun with it and use a visual motivator that will work best for you.
5. Celebrate the small wins
Remember to celebrate often throughout the journey. Each debt payoff, even if it’s only $100, is exciting! Keep yourself motivated by embracing the headway that you’re making as you go. These celebrations don’t have to be expensive, but they can still be fun. Splurge for a bottle of wine or steaks for dinner instead of your usual rice and beans when you pay off a credit card. Treat yourself to a date night or rent a movie instead of watching one from your own collection. Be proud of yourself each time you hit another milestone! Little wins add up to big wins, and big wins are what will change your life!
6. Realize that time will pass one way or the other
When you finally realize that you can't stop time your whole mindset will change!
For example, in 3 years you could be free, or you could still be right where you are now...it's totally up to you! Time doesn’t care what you do, it’s going to pass one way or the other, so you might as well do something productive with that time.
7. Realize that it’s not a punishment
Don’t look at this time as a prison sentence, look at it as a journey. Don’t focus on what you’re giving up, focus on what you’re gaining. It’s all about your mindset towards it.
Remember that you got yourself into this mess, and now it's your responsibility to get yourself out of it! You can do this!
8. Surround yourself with motivation
Maybe you have a great support system around you, or maybe you don't. Either way, we all could use some encouragement throughout this journey. This is such an important tip because no one likes to feel lonely, especially on a journey that will last a few years. So you'll want to find like minded people to share your journey with. Read books + blogs, watch YouTube videos, listen to podcasts, + join Facebook groups. Take steps to stay connected + surrounded with motivation!
There's something so encouraging about hearing other people's stories, and sharing with them in their struggles + achievements. I'd love for you to join the conversation over in my Facebook Community. This private group is full of women who are ready to gain financial freedom + live an abundant life! You'll love this awesome group of ladies!