When I first discovered the world of personal finance, paying off debt was actually fun.
I couldn’t wait to get paid and put down three – sometimes four – times the minimum amount of payments. (Take that, you stupid interest!)
I felt on top of the world and in control of my destiny.
But after five or six months passed, I was over it. I had a new feeling now: broke. With over $28,000 left to go, it seemed as if it would take until the end of time before I finally got rid of my debt.
As each student loan came due, I thought of everything I had to give up – music festivals, traveling, a new car, eating out. After a year of frustration, I even did the unthinkable: I got a new credit card.
Whoa, there – a credit card? What happened?
Two words, my friend: Debt fatigue.
What is Debt Fatigue?
Debt fatigue describes the despair and loss of motivation one feels after paying down a large sum of debt for a lengthy period of time. Sooner or later nearly every debtor will face debt fatigue.
If handled incorrectly, debt fatigued individuals can face frequent setbacks – like unwise financial decisions – or give up the entire journey altogether.
Are you feeling symptoms of debt fatigue? Here are four ideas to help you recover quickly. And here’s how you can start paying off debt no matter how much you make.
Take control out of your hands.
Is it difficult to hand over your hard-earned money to faceless creditors every month? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
Take the decision-making out of your hands and set up automatic payments for each of your loans.
When I look back at my net worth over the years, I see that the moments where I’ve witnessed the most consistent progress are when I set up automatic payments the day after pay day.
By setting payments so close to getting paid, I removed the emotions out of paying off debt. It’s hard to “miss” money that only spent a brief period of time in your bank account!
Track your progress and celebrate your wins.
If I consistently share my net worth updates each month, I find it’s a lot easier to stay on top of my debt goals. (To be quite honest, it’s the fear of embarrassment that keeps me going.)
But, apparently I’m not alone: research from the American Psychological Associationreports that individuals who are trying to achieve goals are more likely to succeed if they monitor their progress – and even more so if they do it publicly!
If you haven’t done so already, now is a great time to start tracking your net worth. (Use my free budget and net worth tracker as a start.)
You may have a long way to go still, but you’ve probably made a lot of progress already.
Don’t forget to acknowledge the great work you’ve done and – when you need a quick “pick me up” – compare your current status to when you first started.
Get a support group.
Whether it’s finances, fitness, or a fantastic bucket list, achieving a lofty goal is always easier when you commission the help of your friends.
If you know people with similar financial goals, organize a regular meetup where you can all support and encourage one another.
Don’t have a group of friends that you can talk finances with? No worries – I’ve found the Internet to be a great substitute for meeting up with people IRL.
Here’s my list of favorite online resources:
- Afford Anything with Paula Pant – start with Episode 66, “Take Radical Responsibility for Your Life — a Breakfast Chat with 26-Year-Old Millionaire Emma Pattee”
- Listen Money Matters with Andrew Fiebert and Thomas Frank – Start with “Lessons I Learned From Being Broke” (an oldie, but goodie)
- Personal Finance or Financial Independence Subreddits – Be sure to check if your question has already been answered before you submit a new one. Redditors are known to be pretty abrasive to noobs.
- Rockstar Finance Forum – Created by the awesome J. Money who runs Rockstar Finance and the blog, Budgets are Sexy
- Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey – Scope out the free version, but be sure to purchase the audiobook if you find it to be valuable.
Reframe and reaffirm your goals.
Let’s face it – no one enjoys being in debt, but a large part of how you feel about being in debt is how you frame the thoughts surrounding it.
For example: instead of thinking of everything you’ll have to give up in order to pay off your debt, think of everything you’ll gain once the debt is finally done, like freedom from stress and worry, more money in your pocket, and a chance to build a positive net worth.
When it’s time to make a payment, say these positive affirmations out loud:
“I am one step closer to being debt-free!”
“I am building an empire of wealth!”
Over time, as you repeat these statements to yourself out loud, you’ll change these much-dreaded moments into a positive experience.
I hope these four tips will be useful to you as you navigate your journey to debt freedom. Thankfully, debt is only temporary and so many others have gone through it before us – before you know it, you will too!
Don’t forget to comment below if you have any questions or tips to share about debt fatigue.
This post originally appeared on Broke Girl Rehab. It is reprinted here with permission. Changes have been made.