Within the last few months my husband and I have paid off all of our smaller debts. You know things like a student loan, car loan, a few hundred dollars on a visa card and our Lowes credit card we had been using to finish our back patio. It feels so good to not have to worry about making payments on these accounts. I don’t necessarily feel like I have more money because we up’d our 401k contributions and we have been saving for a few camping trips over the summer. I thought it would feel like we were millionaires after paying these bills off. 😦 That hasn’t been the case.
Now that all of these “small bills” are gone I feel extremely overwhelmed with the two debts we have left. I am losing motivation to become truly debt free. We have a travel trailer that we owe just under $20k on and our mortgage that has a balance of $80k. I have a rather short attention span so I liked the challenge of paying of the smaller debts. They were like short sprints. The larger debts we have left feel more like a marathon and I am likely to veer off the race course, if I ever even get started!
I have been thinking and thinking about how and when I will get back on the debt free track! I want it to be sooner than later.
So how does one stay motivated to pay off large debts when they feel like it’s not possible? Here is my game plan.
1. Start with the smallest debt
Even though both debts are large I am still going to follow Dave Ramsey’s rule of starting with the smallest debt and working your way up. The interest rate on my smaller debt is a little lower than our mortgage BUT I know that when I start seeing the progress we are making I will get my motivation back. I will make minimum payments on our mortgage and start putting any extra money we have on our trailer payment.
2. Make a plan
I am a planner. Even if I know that my plan may change every so often it feels good to know it’s there. So I looked at our finances and made an action plan. I already feel that motivation coming back! If we make the minimum payment on our trailer we will be paying on it for like 5 or 6 years. If we can make my plan work then we will be able to pay off out trailer by the end of 2015. That makes me feel like the sacrifices we will make during the next year and a half will definitely be worth it.
3. Set goals and reward yourself
Break your large debt up into smaller more attainable goals. When you hit those smaller goals reward yourself. When I say reward yourself I am not saying go and spend a bunch of money on something. I am saying have a special dessert after dinner to celebrate, go out for pizza as a family or even splurge on a little something you have been putting off on buying. Just don’t break the bank to celebrate the goal that would defeat the purpose. Celebrate the small wins!
4. Visualize life without that debt
I am not just talking about what you would do with all that money you are sending to the creditors I am talking about the feeling of freedom. I will feel so proud and excited when the day comes and we don’t owe anything to anyone. Can you imagine that? Oh my goodness I can! I cannot wait for that day. I need to think about that feeling more often. It will help keep me stay on track and remind me why I need and want to get these debts paid off. I am strong believer in the law of attraction. The more I think about positive things the more likely they are to happen!
I can’t deny the fact that I have day dreamed on more than one occasion about my debt free scream on Dave Ramsey’s radio show!
5. Don’t go at it alone
I do much better when I have people cheering me on. If you are married you both have to be on board. That is a non-negotiable. The only reason I was able to get rid of all of our smaller debts is because my husband was finally 100% on board with my plan. I know it was hard for him to spend part of his annual bonus on my student loan debt from 2003 but he did it and didn’t complain too much!
Don’t be afraid to talk to your closest friends about your financial goals. They are the best people to cheer you on when you need it. If they are good friends they will hold you accountable but help pick you up when you make a mistake.
What tips do you all have for staying motivated to pay off debts?