If your debt is going to take you an extended period of time to pay off, chances are good that you will experience burnout at some point if you haven’t already. I’m welcoming Jen from Frugal Millennial today to share six smart ways to avoid burnout while paying off debt.
When you first start paying off your debt, you may feel wonderful. You may be able to pay off your smallest debts quickly, and with each debt you eliminate, you feel a weight lift off of your shoulders. It becomes more challenging when you get to the larger debts. Maybe you started with a couple of $500 or $1,000 student loans, and now you’re left with only $10,000 loans.
Now, getting out of debt seems like an endless nightmare. You may feel like you are getting nowhere even though you are making progress. This is when you start to experience debt burnout. You get tired of scrimping, working long hours, and making sacrifices that your friends do not have to make. If this is how you feel, try following these steps to stay motivated so that you can finally ditch your debt for good.
Make a realistic plan
If you are trying to pay off $100,000 of debt in one year on an income of $15,000, you are probably going to become frustrated. This goal is impossible (unless you find a way to drastically improve your income immediately). Your goal should be challenging and maybe even a little crazy, but it should be reasonable given your income and the sacrifices you are willing (or not willing) to make.
Try to find a side gig with a flexible schedule.
If you work 100 hours per week in an office, you may feel worn out pretty quickly. If this approach sounds exhausting to you, try finding a side gig with a more flexible work schedule. You could try starting your own photography business (your hours would likely only be weekends), doing freelance work (which can be done from home!), or starting a blog and monetizing it. If you try any of these options, you can earn some extra cash and do what you love – instead of working 100 hours per week at a job (or multiple jobs) that you hate.
Find free things to do for fun
You need to work hard to pay off your debt, but it is still important for you to find time to relax and have some fun. Relaxing may feel like a waste of time when you have so many other things that you need to do, but this could not be further from the truth. Having fun is crucial for your physical and mental health and will help to prevent burnout while you pay off debt. We often think that having fun requires spending money, but there are actually plenty of fun things that can be done for free. Try taking a free yoga class, going for walk around a park, having a board game night or Netflix night, attending a free festival, or checking out a free museum.
Celebrate small wins
It is easy to feel motivated when you pay off small debts because you can pay those off relatively quickly. If your smallest debt is $10,000, it will take some time to pay that off. The slow process can be frustrating and demotivating. Instead of waiting until that $10,000 debt is paid in full, celebrate paying off each $1,000 or increment or reward yourself every time you make an extra payment on your debt (no matter how small the payment is). You do not need to treat yourself by spending money. Instead, try engaging in one of your favorite (free) activities or share your victory with others who inspire you to continue on your journey to debt freedom.
Share your struggles with someone else
When we go through difficult times in our lives, it is important to have a strong support system. Venting some of your frustration to a friend who is a good listener can make you feel heard, validated, and supported. When you are struggling, it is always nice to know that there is someone in your corner rooting for you to win. Remember to confide in a friend who makes smart financial decisions – not one who will encourage you to stay in debt!
Dream about your debt-free future
Paying off debt has its challenges, but it will be worth it when you achieve financial freedom. You are making these sacrifices for a reason, and it helps to focus on the end goal. What will you be able to do once your debt is paid off that you would not be able to do if you still had debt? What does your debt-free future look like? Focusing on the long-term goal, instead of the short-term challenges, will give you perspective and keep you motivated to ditch debt for good.
Paying off debt as quickly as possible is a challenging goal. To stay motivated, you need to do what you can to avoid experiencing burnout and giving up. To prevent debt burnout, try setting a realistic goal, finding a side gig with a flexible schedule, finding free things to do for fun, celebrating small victories, and focusing on the end goal. If you follow these steps, you can finally attain financial freedom!
How about you?
- What do you do to avoid burnout while you’re working hard on your financial goals?
Jen is an HR/Finance professional and frugal lifestyle blogger. She and her husband are currently working on a crazy goal of paying off 117k of student loan debt in just three years. Jen blogs about healthy eating on a budget, destroying debt, increasing income, and living frugally. You can find her blogging at www.frugal-millennial.com.