Dealing with debt is often a long road filled with ups and downs. Reaching a milestone, sticking to your budget, resisting temptation, or earning some extra income are all reasons to smile and celebrate. We also all have times when we feel discouraged and wonder if we will ever get out of our current situation.
How you deal with your discouragement will significantly help or hinder your progress.
I probably don’t need to outline the ways that discouragement can hinder your progress, so let’s focus on how we can overcome discouragement in our debt repayment. Here are a few things that help me.
Talk about it
I am blessed with an awesome marriage. My husband and I communicate well. We are always on the same team. When one of us starts to lose motivation, the other one is encouraging. Discouragement doesn’t last long in this dynamic.
My heart goes out to those of you who are facing overwhelming debt on your own (or what may feel like “on your own”). Find a friend who you can talk to. Having someone who will listen and support you is so therapeutic and healthy. Since debt is a topic that many people keep to themselves, opening up the conversation by daring to disclose your debt might be a good first step and way to find people who can relate.
Set Small Goals
If looking at your entire debt portfolio is too daunting, try breaking it down into more manageable goals. You could set a goal of how much your want to put toward your debt each month without focusing on the debt total. You could decide on changes in your budget that will free up a certain amount of money to put toward debt.
Be sure to celebrate (frugal-style, of course) when you reach each small goal. Share your successes with someone.
Focus on the Finish
This may sound like the opposite of “set small goals,” but I think they work together. Don’t focus on how far away the finish line is, but focus on what the finish line will feel like. I like to imagine what it will be like to have our own place (not that living in my in-laws’ basement with our three kids isn’t great) and how free it will feel not to have the burden of debt. I remind myself that if I keep on track with the plan that we have set, the finish line will come. I just need to press on through the challenges and not give up.
Stop Comparing Yourself
I think a lot of discouragement comes when we compare ourselves and our situation to others. Unless you are comparing the you-of-today with the you-of-years-past, comparing yourself (or your debt, or your talents, or your bank account) with anyone else will most likely just feed the discouragement. It’s fine to admire someone, but being jealous will only hinder your progress. Instead of looking around, focus on how far you have come.
Those are just a few of the ways that I prevent and deal with discouragement. Everyone is different. I’m counting on the rest of you to share your ideas to help those who are struggling with discouragement in their journey to be debt-free.
- How do you avoid becoming discouraged by your debt?
- What do you do to stay positive and motivated?
Join us every Wednesday for a new Debt Discussion topic. If you have a topic you would like to submit, you can do so here.