Do you feel weighed down by debt? Do you feel guilty when you spend any money because you know you should be using it to pay down your loans? Do you sometimes feel like paying it back might take forever — or longer?
Debt reduction can be exhausting. Feeling defeated with zero motivation is sometimes almost part of the process itself.
Still, there are ways to enjoy your life while paying off your creditors. You don’t have to deny yourself entirely while whittling away at debt repayment. In fact, sometimes you can kickstart your motivation while having a good time. Here’s how:
Set a series of goals
The best way to stay motivated is to have a financial goal. Not just any goal, a smart goal. One that is very specific, measurable, realistic and has a deadline.
For example, you can set a goal to pay off 50 percent of your debt in a year. To see if this is realistic, work backward to see how much you have to pay off monthly to reach it.
You can create some intermediate goals to help you with this. It can be something like paying off the smallest debt first. Alternatively, you might want to reduce 10 percent of the debt within 2 or 3 months. When you’ve accomplished that, you can reward yourself with a treat like a nice meal in a restaurant.
As you pay off the smallest credit card balance, you will feel a sense of achievement which will further motivate you to keep on eliminating your debt.
Don’t forget to celebrate small wins and reward yourself
Reducing debt is a long haul, so give yourself little breaks and rewards along the way. This will help keep you motivated.
Achieving these intermediate goals are easier and more manageable than the big audacious goal. Having a reward to mark that milestone also reinforces the good habit of saving and paying off your debt.
Do it automatically
Automate as many debt payments as possible so that the money is taken from your account before you notice it. This is less painful than having to make the payment manually, and you don’t have to worry about forgetting payments.
Another benefit is that you can make sure that your main obligation of reducing your debt is completed before you think of spending that money in your account.
Find an accountability partner
Find a friend or partner to hold you accountable. Tell them what you are trying to do and if you deviate from that goal, tell them they should help keep you in check. If they are also trying to pay down their debt, you can make it into a competition. See who can find more innovative ways to make more payments.
See who can find more innovative ways to make more payments.
There are many groups and forums online with people who are going along the same path as you. You will find a supportive community to help you along your journey.
These people will be around to help keep your spirits up, offer help and advice when you need it and help you stay on track, too.
Budget for some fun, too
Sometimes, you just need to splurge on something luxurious or take a trip somewhere cool. You can do this if you have a budget.
Your budget needs to take care of non-negotiable living expenses, like housing, food and transportation, and then an amount for total monthly repayment. While you want that to be as much as possible, you still need to live. Make sure your budget includes something that allows you to have fun once in a while.
Remember, budgets are flexible and adjustable, so don’t feel like you have to stick to an austere budget after you have set it.
Living frugally for a while is a great idea but it is not easy to do long term. If you continually deprive yourself, your new frugal habits will not last.
Try to find new low-cost ways to have fun. Make it a game so that it is not all doom and gloom.
Start a side hustle to clear out debt faster
Sometimes, your fun money simply doesn’t exist in your budget, and you need to bring in more money.
Find a side hustle to make extra cash to pay for those extras that your budget doesn’t stretch to. You can use your skills to make a side income. Sell your unwanted things, sell your time like doing dog walking or do some freelance writing. There are many ways you can make more money on the side. A quick search online will produce lots of other ideas.
Sell your unwanted things, sell your time like doing dog walking or do some freelance writing. There are many ways you can make more money on the side. A quick search online will produce lots of other ideas.
Your side hustle might prove so lucrative that you can pay off your debts even faster.
Remember, you can still enjoy your life while paying off your debt. It does take planning and you need to stick with it. But once you do establish control over your finances, you’ll be free of a crushing burden, and that is a very liberating and exhilarating feeling worth keeping in mind.
But once you do establish control over your finances, you’ll be free of a crushing burden, and that is a very liberating and exhilarating feeling worth keeping in mind.
May Chong is a freelance finance writer. She has worked for years in the finance industry, specializing in investments. Her other writing can be found on StockHax.com, and you can follow her on Twitter @simple_money.