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How to Stay Motivated When Paying off Debt

Guest post from Kacie of Sense To Save

When you’re in the process of getting out of debt, sometimes it can be a challenge to stay motivated until it’s all paid off.

If you are feeling a lack of motivation, here are a few tricks to help:

Tally your debt totals.

List all credit card balances, car loans, student loans, mortgages, and personal loans. Get a complete picture of your debt balance, interest rate for each, and minimum payment.

Break your debt into smaller chunks.

If you have a large, overwhelming balance on a student loan, don’t focus on the full amount. Instead, break it into smaller amounts.

For example, if you owe $50,000 in student loans, break that amount into the number of semesters you took. Want to break it down further? Try breaking it down into classes. Viewing $50k as eight $6,250 semesters, or 40 classes at $1,250/pop might be easier to tackle.

If your debt is a mortgage, you can calculate how much house you have paid off and translate that into square footage in your home. For example, we’ve paid off about 20% of our house — roughly enough to own our garage and a bathroom.

Create a visual representation of your debt.

Post it somewhere in your home where you and your family will see it often. Try a graph that you color in as you make progress.

Write the debt total on a post-it note and wrap it around your debit card in your wallet.

Use play money to represent your debt. Tape it to a poster board and remove the bills as you make progress.

Pick a debt pay-off date and put it on your calendar.

Calculate how long it will take you to get out of debt if you only made minimum payments. Next, figure out how much in interest you’d pay if you never made an extra payment.

Using Dave Ramsey’s debt-snowball principle of listing your debts from the smallest to largest balance, apply as much as you can to the principal of the smallest debt and pay only the minimum on the other debts. Eliminate that first debt, and then repeat while building momentum. You might also want to call your credit card companies and ask for a lower interest rate to help make even more traction.

Here’s a handy calculator to track your progress with your debt snowball. It will tell you when you’ll be debt-free. For each individual debt, note the projected pay-off month and see if you can beat it by selling extra things and reducing your expenses for awhile.

Tell a friend when you hope to have each debt paid.

Accountability is important! If a friend knows you should have your Visa paid off by July, she can follow up with you. If you’re feeling bold, post your debt numbers or target payoff date on your Twitter or Facebook account for even more accountability.

Stick to your plan and see it through. The short-term sacrifice will be worth it!

Kacie blogs at Sense To Save. She and her husband have paid off roughly $20k in debt, built a 6-month emergency fund, and have a mortgage. She’s working on a retirement guide to help herself and others get on track for investing for the future.

photo credit

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