It can be difficult to stay focused when you are working on getting out of debt. The truth is that many people do not begin to work on paying down their debt until they have amassed enough of it that it becomes scary. This means that it will take quite a bit of time to pay off the debt. While you may start out on the journey with a lot of enthusiasm and a driving need to change your situation, it is easy to become burned out and to lose focus on your debt payment plan.
If you are not careful, you may burn out and end up blowing all of your money or running your credit card debt back up in a short amount of time. There are a few strategies you can employ to help yourself stay motivated to get out of debt. It helps if you are working on this as a couple, because generally one of you stays focused and strong while the other one has moments of weakness. If you are single you may want to find a friend that is working on getting out of debt as well. You can call each other when you need extra motivation to stay on track.
One of the best things you can do is to create a chart that allows you monitor your progress. Seeing that you are making progress and crossing out the debt will help you to stay motivated most of the time. You can add in rewards at various stages of the debt. Celebrate at your first $1,000, then at $5,000 and then at $10,000 and so on. Hopefully you do not have so much debt that you will need to celebrate at the $50,000 or $100,000 level. Depending on your income and the amount you have to pay off you may be working for more than a year. It is a good idea to celebrate any real progress you are making about once a quarter or every six months.
Another way to stay motivated is find and join a support group or a group of friends that will help you stay motivated and get out of debt. One easy way to do this is attend a financial class that focuses on helping you get out of debt. Banks, churches and community centers often offer these types of groups. One example is Financial Pease University by Dave Ramsey. This class will help you set up the debt payment plan, and give you ideas on how to find extra money to put towards your debt. This also gives you an outside person who will look at your budget and give you an idea of how realistic you are being. This can work to help you find additional areas to spend and show you areas where you are not being realistic in cutting back.
Consider financial counseling, if you continue to struggle to stay focused. Your pastor may be willing to offer your financial counseling on a regular basis, or you can hire a professional financial counselor who can help by looking over your budget or talking to you about your monthly spending choices. Most financial counselors will work with you for only a few sessions to help you set up a plan to get out of debt. A financial counselor can help you find ways to deal with financial peer pressure.
Work towards a final reward. Although being debt free is a reward unto itself, you may also want to work towards a big reward at the very end. It may be a dream vacation to the Bahamas with your spouse, or taking your children to Disney World for the week. The reward you choose should be paid for entirely in cash. There is no point in going back into debt as soon as you get out of it. However that prize may help you by giving you something to focus on when you are in the thralls of a “woe is me, my life sucks” moment. You can get out of the difficult financial situation this way. Once you have accomplished this, you can begin setting new goals to make sure you are more comfortable in the future.