Patience is a virtue we can all improve on, but having too much patience can be bad for those of us who are in debt. At the same time, having too little patience will make you crazy with anxiety and stress. When it comes to debt, do you have too much patience or not enough?
Too Much Patience
When you have a lack of urgency about your debt situation, you have too much patience. Your anxiety level may be high (stressed and worried) or low (lazy and apathetic), but you are being too patient about debt if your motivation to act is low.
If you are content with paying the minimum payment on your credit card, then you might have too much patience. If you plan to ride your student loans on income-based repayment plan until the 25-year forgiveness kicks in, then you have too much patience.
Too much patience when it comes to debt repayment will cost you a lot more money and time. Force yourself to have enough urgency about getting out of debt to make a plan.
Not Enough Patience
When you don’t have enough patience, you have the opposite problem. You feel the urgency to get out of debt and your motivation is high.
Many of us got into debt in the first place because of our lack of patience. It takes patience to save enough to buy what you want with cash. It takes patience to forgo “wants” for “needs.” In a world of instant gratification, waiting goes against the grain. If you didn’t learn patience by avoiding debt, you will certainly get another chance while paying off debt.
When you are impatient about your debt payback, you cannot enjoy life because you are too anxious about debt. You’re always looking for a quick fix instead of focusing on a plan.
Patience in Your Plan
There is a happy medium of patience where you have a high level of motivation, but a low level of anxiety. Having a plan allows you to make real progress on your debt repayment while still feeling relaxed and able to enjoy life.
When we made a plan and set our goal, I felt a peace about our debt that I hadn’t felt before. Even though our goal is audacious and we are a little behind, having a goal in place and knowing what we need to do to achieve it has been refreshing.
It’s Your Turn
- How is your level of patience affecting your debt repayment?
- How has a plan made a difference in your motivation and anxiety levels?
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You bring up a lot of good points, Stephanie. I find myself with too much patience most of the time as I’ve got other priorities that are just as important to me as getting my debt gone. My husband is like that too, except when he gets a sudden urge to pay a whole bill off with one large payment. Which is okay, except that he can forget about the other expenses that need some of that money…oh, like groceries. A few times he’s had to whip out his credit card to pay for groceries after one of his sudden large payments (behind my back). But I think he’s learning that lesson, as it’s kind of embarrassing for him later.
I think paying off debt is a lot like making any other resolution (exercise, eating healthier, etc). We sometimes go crazy intense and then burn out, or go in fits and starts. I think the secret to success is being consistent. Starting (or changing) a habit is hard. Slow and steady wins the race 🙂
I used to be the most patient person in the world – really – I was sooooooooo laid back. Now we’re about 18 months from paying off our mortgage and you’d think I was possessed. I absolutely cannot stand how hard it is sometimes. I just want it done. I don’t really even mind throwing every extra dime we have at it. It’s just that I can’t stand getting that statement every month and we haven’t even been really focused on this (hardcore focused on it) for more than 13 months. But I can see it and I can taste it and I have NO patience for it anymore ugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Where’s Seinfeld when you need him? Serenity now! – ha!
Serenity now! 🙂 That’s awesome that you’ve been hardcore focused for over a year and only have a year and a half left on your mortgage! Keep up the good work Jim!!
Sarah-Ashley Ortiz says
Well, I’m late to the discussion, but believe me, this blog has prompted a lot of discussion and planning on both my hubby and my part. He works crazy hours, so I just yesterday got access to his loan info. Yikes! I had a pretty good idea of the totals, but it was really good to see the details of things- like how much interest we have accrued so far, how much is being capitolized, and how much interest is being added each month (about 142% more than our current monthly income, thank you very much!) I think I am much more driven to pay of our debt than my DH is. He is quite confident that he will be able to qualify for the 10 year forgiveness plan for his med school loans, and is content to just pay what they tell us to until then. The planner in me is worried about what will happen if we don’t- just how much extra interest we will be paying if we count on that 10 year plan and then it falls through. My goal right now is to save the amount equivalent to our out of pocket max from our medical insurance, (we’re almost half way there) and then start paying off our student loans. We have a lot more discussion that needs to happen in this household, that’s for sure!
I am with you– it would make me nervous to rely on getting the forgiveness plan. Be sure to find out everything possible about the forgiveness plan and make sure to toe the line. Do you know if the plan can change and be retroactive, affecting everyone who is on track?
I think saving up for your out-of-pocket max is a great way to start! I hope things go well in getting on the same page as your husband 🙂
Laura Lane says
Last year we were able to get out of debt for the first time in twenty-seven years of marriage. We don’t own a home, but it’s okay. It just feels great to be debt-free. Okay, the stickler in me says, but you owe $70 to the exterminator for coming last month. But, I know it will be paid within the next month. Nothing compared to some folks.
Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage
That’s awesome Laura!! Congratulations! I love hearing debt-free success stories 🙂
I like the idea of focusing on my net worth instead of my debt. I am impatient when it comes to debt, and I was throwing every spare dime into paying it off, with only $1,000 in emergency fund. Then, massive plumbing problems caused me to have to put it on the card and I’m back where I started two years ago. So now, I am equating the amount I pay on debt to the amount going into savings. It will take longer to get out of debt, but I have peace knowing I am covered in a real emergency. It IS a balance!
That is so frustrating Dianne! You will have peace knowing that you are covered in an emergency. We have chosen to have more than a $1,000 emergency fund even though we are in serious debt-payoff mode. Hopefully thinking of your net worth will help.
Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says
Excellent post, Stephanie, and I totally agree about that balance being a fine line. We are constantly working, it seems, to combat both sides of this issue. Sometimes we’re all crazy about it, and others, we’re much too casual about the debt.
It really can be tricky to find just the right balance, where you are motivated but not overwhelmed.
I think when you are at the end of debt repayment like my family you become impatient. Especially if you have been doing it for over 4 years. We are roughly 6 months minimum and 10 months maximum from paying it off and moving on to the next steps. The sooner the better at this point.
I will say during other phases we went through a wave of overly patient to impatient. Most of the time falling in the middle.
I can totally see how you would want to sprint to the finish line! I’m so excited that you are so close CeCee!
The debt that I am paying off is my mortgage. I am rather impatient to get that paid off. We funnel a lot of cash into the mortgage payments, maybe more than some people would advocate – this is a reflection of my lack of patience in this area.
That’s great that you are working on your mortgage debt Kay! It may be counter-cultural, but you’ll be so much better off and how freeing that will be!
Liz S says
I definitely do not have enough patience and it can make me crazy sometimes, since our debt (including med school and mortgage) is so incredibly high. But recently I’ve learned that chill out, because we feel it’s very important to contribute to retirement now, and in order to do so, we cannot pay down either of our large debts too much earlier…and that is so ok. Again, that’s why I focus on always tracking and watching our Net Worth, not our debt. 😛
You bring up another good point Liz: Priorities. I think when factoring priorities into your plan that contributes to peace and patience. I can see how tracking net worth would be especially helpful when you’re putting money toward retirement. Thanks for sharing!
[email protected] says
I would have to say we have patience in our plan. I am content with our financial situation right now only owing on our mortgage. However, I do want this final debt paid off as soon as possible!! 🙂
That’s great to hear Stephanie! You can definitely have an eagerness to pay off your debt while still having patience and peace. Keep up the good work!
When I think about how long it might take us to pay off our loans I have too little patience. My husband kind of has too much patience when it comes to his student loans, but his are federal and have a lower interest and mine are all private so I feel a bigger sense of urgency with mine. I am all about taking baby steps and having small goals, though, so I feel like I might be mostly in between.
Small goals and baby steps are great Heather! Having a big picture helps too, then the baby steps seem to matter more.
I would say some days I feel really optimistic and other days are the exact opposite. We do have a budget and a plan but that doesn’t stop me from feeling super impatient.
Do you have a long-term plan: if we pay $__ each month we will be done by (date)? For me this has made all the difference. Knowing that if we meet monthly goals, then the long-term goal is just a matter of time has helped me to relax and just take things one step at a time. At this point we aren’t reaching our monthly goal, but I still see it as not too far off. You can do it Liz!