Staying Motivated With Debt

N13RIliTTASBbuYyszgq_P9020914-54Can my debt reach me up there?

Sometimes people ask me how I stay motivated to pay off my debt. I’ve been told I have a pretty strong (some might say all consuming) drive to get out of debt. I think that’s a fair statement. It IS really important to me. With my lifestyle the way it is right now though, with working five part time jobs, seven days a week that add up to a low income (about $25,000 this year), it’s a big sacrifice for me to send “,525 in one month towards my loans. It means a lot of extra work and a lot of extra penny pinching. It means not living the typical 26 year old life of weekend brunches, afternoon beers, traveling, and being indifferent towards my finances. I work really hard to keep my expenses low and to find frugal ways to have fun, on top of the hard work I do between my five jobs. Sometimes you just sit down and think ‘Damn. I’m over this.’

I spend a lot of my time thinking about money. So much time that it probably qualifies as an all out obsession. I think about ways to earn it and ways to keep from spending it. I like to come up with various debt payment plans and try to figure out which is most effective or fastest or requires the least amount of extra work. I like to compare saving rates and financial institutions to see where my money is protected best. Sorry I’m not sorry about that!

I’ve never really been afraid of finances. I’m a very practical thinker and I’ve never really had much money. Staying on top of it was always the best way for me to know what I could and couldn’t do. Information really is power- if you know what you have, you know what you can spend. That’s always been my approach anyway, and as I am inching closer and closer to debt freedom, it seems to be working for me!

Still sometimes, even I struggle with staying motivated. The struggle is real people!  For me, ironically, the bigger my payoffs are, the more I tend to struggle with motivation. I see a huge chunk of my money go towards debt payoff and then still see my balance in the red. It’s at once exhilarating to pay down or off a loan and also difficult. What ELSE could I have done with that money? When will this not be my life anymore? How can there still be a balance? I worked so hard for that money and sometimes it seems like it makes such a small dent. Just one tiny drop in the flipping enormous bucket.

To stay motivated and keep myself on track I use two fool proof methods:

1) I talk about my debt.

I depend on this blog, the personal finance world, my friends and my family to help keep me motivated. By sharing my ups and downs on this journey towards debt freedom, my motivation stays fresh. Yes, it’s wonderful to receive compliments on my methods or progress but I’m not just in it for that. 😉 It’s so wonderful to get support from people. To gripe with my friend about our shared loan burden. To talk through a payoff plan with another friend just starting her journey. To hear my grandma tell me about growing up in the depression and having no money. To read someone’s tactic, success story or set back on a PF blog. It’s all motivation to me. I like to tell people why I’m not spending money and hear their feedback. I like to involve people on this journey with me. Community is important to me, so sharing my personal goals with my larger community is a great way for me to stay strong. Money is an internal part of everyone’s life and sharing how I relate to it as well as hearing how others do helps keep me focused.

2) I plan for my debt-free future.

Part of the time I spend thinking about money is spent planning out what I’ll do once I actually get to keep all the money I make. I want to travel. I want to invest. I want to enjoy a meal out once in a while. Right now I have no flexibility with my finances and as a result of that, no flexibility with my time. I have to work like a madwoman to make money for extra payments. Once I am debt free, I can relax a little when it comes to picking up extra shifts or eating leftovers. While saving is of course my next goal, freedom from debt will open a whole new world to me. I live for that day!

There are a million ways to stay motivated. My ways are pretty ethereal and may not work for you. Try making a vision board so you can put your goals literally in front of your face. Start your own blog or journal. Reward yourself each week for all the money you don’t spend. Find out what works best for you and have at it. We can stay motivated together!


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