Finding Motivation To Pay Off Large Debts

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?

❤ Sarah


11 thoughts on “Finding Motivation To Pay Off Large Debts

  1. Great post! It is extremely challenging to stay focused and motivated on the larger debts. We paid off all our debts but our mortgage in 7 months, which was so much fun and exciting when it didn’t take long. But then we were left with a ~$115,000 mortgage… definitely hasn’t moved as fast. We have been staring at this thing for 2 years, and probably have 3 years left. For me it seems to help to just focus on $10,000 at a time, so like you said breaking the debt into smaller goals. Also, to step back and remember we will pay off our mortgage in 6 years total, not the 30 years we signed up for… which is unbelievable! Like you, I too can’t wait to not owe anyone a single cent. Best wishes! 😀

    • Thanks! $10k at a time sounds like a good goal. It’s not to little of an amount but not to large either. That is so awesome to be paying off your mortgage in 6 years!!! If we ever buy again in the future we will definitely do a 15 year mortgage and hope to get it paid down before that… 30 is just to long!

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  3. I keep thinking, if we just made more money, but the more money we make, the more we spend, so it’s a lifestyle change we need. My husband and I are both big spenders, whether it be on food, stuff for the house, etc. (For clothes, not so much. I want to lose weight first.)

    • You are so right about making more money. It sounds like a fix to the problem but it really isn’t. (But it would be nice 🙂 ) I’m not a clothes shopper either it’s just really not all that fun! It’s always kind of depressing because things never fit right.

  4. High five to you for paying off your small debts!

    Since you have a short attention span, I think number three will be huge for you. Set those goals and, even if it’s a small treat, reward yourself for the work you’ve done and the debt you’ve paid off.

    When I have a huge task in front of me, many times the hardest part is starting. You can do this!

    • That is exactly where I am stuck with these larger debts… the starting point!! I know once I start throwing extra money at them at see some progress the ball will get rolling. Thanks for the encouragement!!

  5. I find with my large debt (the mortgage, and like most Sydney home owners, it’s spectacularly large) that tracking how much time I’ve shaved off paying it down is what motivates me most. It started out at 30 years and now it’s at 18.5 years. Time has also passed (5 years) but we are well ahead, and the banking app also shows how much interest that saved. Woo! Still a long way to go, and looking at the overall amount isn’t very helpful, but I don’t focus on that part and instead I break it down to smaller more manageable milestones. Eg. Get another extra xxx amount paid down by June. Etc. 🙂

    • That is such a good idea focusing on the time and money you save. 30 down to 18 that is really good! That would motivate me too! Looking at the overall amount isn’t helpful your right but as you see what you are saving plus those years you shave off that is enough to keep up the excitement of paying off the debt.

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