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Get Out of Debt: Staying the Course

get out of debtGreetings, friends!! Last time we talked in our getting out of debt series about dealing with roadblocks. Today we’ll talk about staying the course and finishing your journey to becoming debt free.

One might think it’d be simple to stay on track once you’re smooth sailing on your debt free journey, but as with any goal, there are little monsters that can pop up and discourage you from crossing the finish line to debt free. In light of that I thought I’d talk about a few of those little monsters and how we can kill them once and for all.

Get Out of Debt and STAY Out of Debt

The “we’re doing SO much better than we were” lie.

Yes, it’s easy to succumb to. You started with, for instance, $25,000 in credit card debt and a $15,000 auto loan. Now the credit card debt’s been whittled down to $5,000 and the auto loan is down to $3,000. It’s a manageable amount of debt, you tell yourself. Not enough to cause any problems. Soon, though, you find yourself pulling out the little plastic card again and falling prey to the “it’s only” lie. It’s only $100. Or $50, or $25.

Soon, though, those “little” amounts add up to big amounts, and that credit card balance is creeping back up into the double digits.  Make a commitment that, no matter how low that credit card balance gets, that you won’t allow that balance to increase, or to stay the same. Commit to yourself that some progress at whittling that balance away each month must be made, and that the goal is still to get to a zero balance.

The “we’re out of debt now: it won’t hurt to throw a little bit on the card” lie.

I’ve seen, read and watched as lots of people (ourselves included) have fallen prey to this lie. You reach debt freedom, you revel in the accomplishment you’ve made and in the pride you have over being debt free. Then you see a shiny, sparkly something that you just have to have now, even though you don’t have the cash set aside for the shiny sparkly something.

What will it hurt, you tell yourself, to just put a little bit on the card? I can have it paid off again in a few months. But somehow, that never happens, and before long you’re looking at a balance in the thousands again, wondering how you got yourself into this mess when you worked so hard to get out. Commit to yourself that any use of the credit card from now on will be paid in full each month, no matter what.

The “I’m so tired of sacrificing/budgeting/spend-tracking. I’ve had enough. I need to live again” lie.

This can be a tough one. When on a journey to kill debt, people often spend months/years on end living frugally, writing down every expense, and telling themselves “no” a lot as they payoff the debt. And sometimes, debt fatigue kicks in and you find yourself overwhelmed, causing you to fall off the wagon and give up on your journey, even though you may be just a few short months away from the finish line.

How to handle such a situation? Do something fun. Not “go to Ireland for a month” fun, but set aside a budgeted amount of money to do something fun that you haven’t been doing since your debt payoff journey began. Take a day or a weekend trip  Go to dinner at your favorite upscale restaurant. Set a limit of $100 and buy something new for yourself that you’ve really been wanting. Do this as a reward to yourself for how far you’ve come, and then get back on track to finish the course.

A journey to debt freedom can often be long and arduous, and there are many roadblocks to conquer along the way, however with a few maneuvering tactics in your weapons arsenal, you can make it through with flying colors.

 

Are you on, or have you completed, a journey to get out of debt? What was the hardest part about seeing it through to the end? What roadblocks are you currently fighting with debt or anything else financially related?

 

 

Photo courtesy of: Kris Krug

 

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Laurie is a wife, mother to 4, and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom, and to a simpler, more peaceful life

8 comments

  1. I am trying to pay off my credit card bill. What roadblocks I experience are sometimes I tend to forget about sticking to my goal and would take a binge just to relieve stress. That actually bring me to more debt. It’s really hard to stay dedicated but I am trying.
    Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted…Is it OK to make money from others fear?My Profile

  2. Agree with the Debt Fatigue! It can be really tiring and overwhelming sometimes. We just have to focus on the goal and keep our eyes out for the good things in life.
    How To Save Money recently posted…Consider Club Membership to Save You MoneyMy Profile

  3. I think it’s impossible to stay the course without little rewards along the way. I know there are different schools of thought about this, but I definitely advocate my clients “splurging” a little when they hit various debt repayment milestones. The splurging definitely motivates them for the next leg of the journey.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Music Mondays – MushaboomMy Profile

  4. I have said both of those things before I was even out of debt. It just starts the cycle all over again.
    Michelle recently posted…A Look Back at UnemploymentMy Profile

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