You can have all of the advice and all of the debt-fighting tools out there, but they will not mean one thing without motivation and determination. You have to finally decide that you want to become debt-free and you are ready to commit to making that dream a reality.
But how can you keep motivated?
Some people are more naturally motivated than others. If you are they type of person that is having troubles getting yourself in the right frame of mind to become debt-free, here are some ways I have found help keep the motivation strong.
1.) Start a Blog! Having your financial situation out there for all to see has created a sense of accountability for me, even though it is anonymous. The last thing I want to do is to write how I spent my tax return on a huge HDTV that we really didn’t need (although, I admit – it is sooooo tempting). There are also comments that others leave that can make you feel like a million dollars, like one I received on this post.
2.) Read Personal Stories About Others Fighting Debt. Not only can you pick up some great tips that may work for you, you will also be able to follow someone’s story and share in the good times as well as the bad times. A great place to find personal finance blogs to read is pfblogs.org.
3.) Read and/or Join Message Boards. There are some great message boards out there for reducing your debt. Not only will you find some great information, message boards can be a place to “sound-off” when things are getting rough. There are many people in the world, and finding someone in a similar situation can help wonders if you stick together.
4.) Keeping Track of Your Debt Balances. There’s a big difference in knowing you have debt versus being actually being able to see the concrete numbers in front of you. It may come as a shock when you see that grand total, but it’s something you need to do. As you start paying off debt – keep making reports that show the progress you are making. Seeing the progress can help add “motivation fuel.”
5.) Add Up All of Your Monthly Finance Charges. Look at that number – that is the cost of your debt. That is all money that you would have if you were debt-free. There are many other things I would rather be doing with that money. Let that amount motivate you to reduce it to zero.
6.) Add Up All of Your Monthly Minimum Payments on Your Debt. For me, this was a HUGE eye-opener. After seeing all of the money that I have to use every month to pay debt, I realized that there is a very large chunk of money that could be used for other things, like perhaps saving for retirement someday or getting health insurance. The things that we just can’t afford right now because of all of our monthly debt payments. Use it to fuel your motivation and determination because there are other things in life you want to do.
7.) Try Not to Get Depressed. Depression is a big motivation-buster, but it is so easy to go into when your debt is making your life miserable. I still get depressed sometimes, and when I am I do not go shopping and I just stay away from financial decisions while depressed. Then, work on feeling better by focusing on what you do have instead of what you don’t have.
8.) Allow Yourself Mistakes!! No one in this world is perfect, and we are all bound to make mistakes. We just have to figure out what went wrong then pick ourselves up and keep going. Learn from your mistakes and try not to dwell on them. Use them as motivation, because once you make a mistake and learn from it – it won’t be made again. Look at the positive side of your mistake.
And here are a few motivators for those with lower incomes like myself:
9.) Don’t Compare Lifestyles. It may seem like all of the stories you read in the media about debt success stories are for families with larger incomes. To fight debt they have eliminated expenses such as landscaping or trading in their expensive SUV’s. They do have more discretionary spending to cut. It’s hard, but do not focus on that! Rather, just look at the success story behind it and how they were motivated to make a change in their life. The goal to become debt-free is what binds us all together. Share in their success and keep yourself heading towards your goal.
10.) Realize How Strong You Are!!! When you have a lower income, you do have to go about reducing your debt differently and have to forgo what some consider “necessities”. Just remember that every time you lower your heat to 60 degrees during the day or everytime you purchased used clothing instead of new – you are really showing how STRONG YOU ARE!! If I could, I would visit every one of you that are having a hard time seeing this in yourself and I would be your personal cheerleader. Why? Because it is so true! You are already very strong, and already have the potential to move mountains. Get motivated and determined to become debt-free. You CAN and WILL do it!!
Now, with all of these ways to get motivated – let’s get to it everyone. Let’s become DEBT-FREE!!!!!!!
You are so right! I started my blog to get and keep myself motivated and it has done wonders. Blogging daily forces me to focus on my finances daily, too.
Great suggestions, and thanks for mentioning pfblogs.org!
Awesome post! I got out of debt, but I started my blog to force myself to maintain the discipline of investing.
You made a lot of good points. I just started trying to get out of debt, but starting a blog is not such a bad idea. I just do not know how to do that. It would be highly appreciated if you could tell me how.
I just wrote a post that should help you get started. You can find it here:
I found that blogging keeps me on track. If you do start your blog, please let me know. Support can mean so much. If you have more questions, feel free to send me an email.
I read Scott Burns article today and I have a question: Do you live in the UP and where? My wife was stationed in Marquette years ago and we love it there. Congratulations on your productive way to live debt free!
Hi Tony & Kate,
Yes, I do live in the UP. We love it here too, and that’s why we stay living here. It’s just a beautful place to raise our son and we love the slower pace of life. We left for a little bit and came right back. We love the lake 🙂
Hi – This Weekend I will be making my final payment to one of my cc – it is the lowest. Back last fall – I thought I was “doing” the debt snowball. In actuality however, I was not making any progress. I had been “using my house like an ATM” by using the line of credit attached to my checking accnt from my HEL (home equity line of credit) and racking up debt on that… to cover monthly expenses.
I was tired of “feeling like” I was making progress but not actually getting anywhere.
SO Last month I went online and used a calculator for the debt snowball. I included this debt:
Our cars (x2) $22.5K and $12K
CC x 2 ($13K + $1.5K)
This added up to… $68.5K
If I include $800-900 with the minimum payment and continue to snowball the minimums into the next payment – amazingly all this debt will be GONE in 26 months. SO last month was my first month – so I paid $989 on the smallest credit card..
This month – I will pay off the smallest card. And start rolling extra money onto the $13K card.
I feel like I am getting ready to run a marathon or something. Or like I am a little tiny mouse in front of a BIIIG mountain! I have been in debt for SO long and made so many bad decisions – but honestly by just paying off this one card I can see that there is a way out.
There is a log cabin in my area where I live on 5 acres for $325K – of course at this point we are in no financial position to buy a house like this which is our dream house BUT the thought that if we keep on track in 7 or 8 years we CAN buy our dream house – possibly mostly in cash.
I am so excited for my future and really just ready to let go of the debt…which is serving no purpose…
Thanks for having this blog!!!
If you want to get out of your debts then its good idea to start blogging. Blogging is a gold mine, it will take some time to reach that gold in deep but once you reach it you will never look back again.