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So, you’ve taken the plunge and decided to face your debt head-on and pay it off! I’m sending a HUGE congratulations and a high-five your way. It takes a lot of courage to face up to having debt and even more courage to actually sit and total up exactly how much debt you are in.
You may be full of excitement and determination right now. After all, your life is about to change for the better. YOU will be in control of your finances. You’ll have more disposable income and will be able to afford to buy the things you love in cold, hard cash instead of adding to your ever-mounting debt.
But let me tell you this – you won’t always be full of excitement. Paying off debt, especially a large amount of debt, is hard and you will find yourself losing motivation and momentum along the way. This is NORMAL. We faced it ourselves when paying off our debt of £21,000, but we managed to figure out ways to keep pushing forward and I’ll share them with you below.
1. Read finance books
If you’re anything like me, you’ll love reading and when I was knee-deep in paying back our debt I would binge-read any financial book I could get my hands on. Being a busy mum of two and running my own business I would sometimes struggle to find the time, but I’d always make a point of at least reading a chapter before I went to bed.
Not only did this keep me motivated, but I gained so much knowledge on the topic of personal finance and budgeting. This knowledge has helped me to become debt-free and stay debt-free.
These are some of my favourite books and the ones that helped me the most:
Total Money Makeover, Dave Ramsey
The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas Stanley
The Simple Path to Wealth, J Collins
How to Own the World, Andrew Craig
Reset: How to Restart your Life and get FU Money, David Sawyer
The Meaningful Money Handbook, Pete Matthew
2. Track your progress
I can’t tell you how much tracking our progress helped us in paying down our debt.
We had a huge amount of debt to pay off and I often felt demotivated and wanted to give up. But whenever I felt like this I’d look at our chart and could instantly see how well we were doing. Without it, it would be very easy to focus on how much debt was left to pay off instead of being able to see what we had actually paid back.
There’s nothing better than making a debt payment and then running to grab your chart so that you can colour in another block, taking you closer to being debt-free. Even the children loved this bit!
I really love the debt payoff charts from Debt Free Charts as all of their debt payment charts are free and they have a great selection!
3. Break down your debt into manageable chunks
There is nothing more demoralising than seeing a huge amount of debt that needs to be paid off. When we first started our debt-free journey paying back £21,000 just seemed like too big of a mountain to climb. But we had no choice. We had to pay back that debt and couldn’t go on living the way we were. So we sat down and worked out how we could make it achievable. We broke that huge figure down into manageable amounts. If we hadn’t done this, we wouldn’t have been able to stay motivated and would very likely have given up.
To help you stay motivated, set yourself some goals. Work out how much you’d like to pay off over the year and then work out how much you need to pay off each month to be able to achieve that goal. So, if your aim is to pay off £12,000 over the course of the year, your monthly total would be £1,000. £1000 is much more manageable to work with than £12,000.
4. Focus on your smallest debt
I found out about this little tip when I stumbled upon Dave Ramsey’s ‘baby steps’ system. He suggests that you order your debts from smallest to largest and target all of your efforts on paying off this smaller debt first while just paying the minimum on the rest. Once the smallest has been paid off, you then move on to the next one on the list and continue the process until all debts are paid.
This worked really well for us as it kept us going psychologically. We felt like we were constantly making progress and it was a huge boost to be able to cut up credit cards that we had paid off early on in our journey.
5. Celebrate small wins
It’s important to reward yourself when you’ve achieved one of your goals. This might seem a little indulgent but, believe me, if you don’t do it you will end up resenting your journey and run the risk of giving up.
It doesn’t need to be anything huge (and shouldn’t be when you’re trying to pay off debt!) but just a little something that you can work towards and look forward to.
I adore the odd cappuccino from my favourite (expensive) coffee shop but I totally gave them up when we started our debt-free journey as I just couldn’t justify the cost. I decided that this would be a great way to reward myself each time we achieved one of our goals.
You could treat yourself to a meal out or a takeaway, or a trip to the cinema. Anything that you enjoy and will keep you on track.
6. Focus on your why
What is your reason for wanting to get out of debt? What is your ‘why’?
My ‘why’ was that I wanted a sense of security. I was fed up feeling that we could suddenly find ourselves homeless with two children. We almost lost our home twice as we didn’t have enough money to pay the mortgage due to our huge debt. The stress of it was unbearable. I didn’t want that kind of life for my children. They deserved better. That was what propelled me forward when things got tough.
Find your ‘why’ and remind yourself of it whenever you find yourself struggling.
7. Listen to podcasts
This was huge for me. There were many, many times I waned on my journey. So many times I wanted to give up. It was during times like these that I put on my favourite podcast – The Dave Ramsey Show. I loved listening to other families talking about their own journeys and I was always amazed at just how much debt some of these people were paying off. If they could do it then I could do it too.
The great thing about podcasts is that you can listen to them anywhere. I would listen in the car while doing the school run and it would set me up with motivation for the day.
8. Make a vision board
Create a vision board of all of the things that you’d like to do once you become debt-free. It could include a holiday to Florida, getting a pet, a weekend spa break, redecorating the house, a new kitchen – anything at all that you dream about.
Keep your board handy and refer to it regularly. It will remind you of why you are working so hard to pay off your debt.
9. Follow inspirational social media accounts
We are so lucky that we have free access to social media, as they can offer a wealth of information and support.
My go-to platforms were Instagram and Facebook. Facebook was great for surrounding myself with people that were going through exactly what I was going through. We were able to support each other and spur each other on.
Instagram was brilliant for information and education. There are so many amazing pages on there and it’s a fun way to stay motivated and keep on track. #
Paying off debt can be a lonely experience, so it’s important to surround yourself with people who have the same goals and dreams as you. It can be extremely comforting to know that there are others out there with the same struggles as you. Follow Money Savvy Mum UK on Instagram here. I am on Facebook too.
10. Have your end date in sight
You should be able to get a rough idea of when your debt-free date will be based on your current debt repayments. Keep this date in mind at all times, as it will remind you that this tough part of your life won’t last forever – there is an end in sight. As you near the end of your journey you’ll become more motivated and eager to push on.
Have you tried any of these tactics to help you stay motivated when paying down debt? Do you have any others that you can share?