My debt free journey looked very similar to a mudslide until 2011. I was recently married and a graduate of Financial Peace University. The tools in that class helped my husband and I gain traction, change some habits, live on less, and pay off debt faster. In November of 2012, we conquered our final credit card payment and stared at one another in shock.
“Did that really just happen,” I asked my husband. Being the realist in the family, he said, “We’ll know once it clears.”
The payment did clear. Suddenly, we had my entire paycheck from my job at the bank at our disposal again. You wouldn’t believe how fast an emergency fund grows when you feed it with whole paychecks.
So what were we, super humans? Accounting nerds? The perfect couple?
Not at all. I was eight months pregnant with our first child the day we sent that last credit payment. You want to talk about motivation. Having a tiny, helpless person come under your roof puts a great deal into perspective.
If you’re on a debt free journey looking for some motivation, we’ve walked that walk. Here are some ways we kept going.
5 Ways to Motivate Yourself On a Debt Free Journey
Calculate your “debt payoff” date.
I’m a writer by trade, so you can guess what kind of power a deadline has in my industry. It drives many to push themselves to greater heights, like marathon runners or patients learning how to walk after an accident.
A debt free journey is definitely a marathon. To calculate a debt payoff date, try this free Debt Paydown Calculator from BankRate.com.
Acknowledge the positive trade-offs to getting out of debt.
Positive trade-offs can be the fuel that keeps you going during a season of extreme frugality.
For example, in exchange for not buying a new car, but instead driving something older, you’re saving thousands to be used toward your children’s college, a new house, or having more freedom from debt.
Immerse yourself in a debt-fighting community on Facebook.
One of the most powerful motivators we discovered on our debt free journey was a community. You can establish that in a financial class, in your family, among friends, or even with coworkers.
One of the most effective ways I’ve found support and community, however, was on Facebook.
There are several groups that center around encouraging and motivating one another out of debt. Here are some you can join:
- Your Debt Freedom Family – Includes daily motivating posts tailored to anyone getting out of debt, as well as a supportive and positive community (including me!).
- Dave Ramsey Baby Steppers – A large group with very strict guidelines that are designed to keep everyone on the debt payoff steps laid out by Dave Ramsey.
- Dave Ramsey Baby Steppers w/ Compassion – If you prefer a gentler motivation as you pay off debt, then head into this group to seek answers and support for your debt payoff needs.
Post inspirational quotes where you’ll see them often.
You can find quotes easily on Pinterest or other social media newsfeeds. Or pick up one of these personal finance books for even more quotes. Once you find one you like, share it digitally, write it out, or stick it to your mirror, dashboard, or office wall.
If you’re serious enough about getting out of debt, then you’re willing to start living, shopping, and spending differently. Once you make progress (i.e. paying off a major credit card), celebrate. Perhaps you can go out to eat or watch a movie in the theaters.
My husband and I sold our smart phones and had flip phones (oh joy) to save on our monthly expenses. That incentive helped us stay focused. Mainly because it stunk. Once we paid off our debt nearly two years later, we were so used to our ancient phones that it was several months before we finally upgraded them. What we thought was such a sacrifice at the beginning simply became a new lifestyle by the end.
How do you stay motivated on a debt free journey? Share in the comments below!
Image Credit: WiredForLego (Creative Commons)