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Dealing With Roadblocks to Debt Freedom

343212816_6013e0049f_zGood day, friends! Today is our next post in our series on how to make and keep a plan for successfully reaching debt freedom. Last time, we talked about making a personalized plan for your road to becoming debt free.

Today, we’ll talk about overcoming potential road blocks. A journey to debt free often takes at least one year, and often two to five years or more to reach.  Anyone who’s ever worked to reach a long-term goal knows that many bumps can crop up along the way to deter you from reaching that long-term goal, so today we’ll talk about how to overcome some of those road blocks and help make sure you cross the finish line to debt freedom.

Overconfidence in Your Debt Freedom Plan

Sometimes, when working a plan to become debt free, overconfidence can crop up and derail your payoff efforts. This overconfidence comes in thoughts such as “I’m doing GREAT! I’m in a much better place than I was six months ago, so it’s okay to charge a few hundred dollars and pick up that new TV. I’ll be able to pay it off quickly.”

If you’re working through your debt freedom plan and having thoughts like this come up, it’s time to remember the vital step of correcting your mindset regarding your debt and your plan. It’s time to remember that the right attitude is what will get you success and is just as important as the individual steps you’ll take to become debt free. The perspective has to be one of overcoming your debt, not succumbing to it. If your goal is to become debt free, the debt has to become your enemy, not just a friend who you’re going to stop seeing for a bit.

Dealing With Debt Fatigue

When your debt-free journey is going to take awhile, it’s easy to get tired, emotionally, of dealing with the problem, even if you are making progress. Many people reach the point where they are sick and tired of making budgets, limiting spending and looking at spreadsheets, and they’re ready to dump the whole plan by the wayside. This is completely understandable: paying off debt is hard work! So how does one combat debt fatigue?

First, remind yourself of the reasons you started this journey in the first place. Have a list of motivational “whys” close by so that you have the motivation to keep on going. Second, go to others for support, whether it be your spouse, a trusted friend, or like-minded people you find in the blogging world. Most of the people I know in real life have very little interest in discussing money and financial independence with me: they just don’t find it exciting, so the blogging world has been instrumental in helping me stick with our plan for debt freedom.

A third option for dealing with debt fatigue is to set up a reward system. Put little, inexpensive rewards in place for each milestone you reach toward debt freedom. Those milestones can be whatever motivates you: getting another thousand of debt paid off, sticking with your monthly budget, or completing a no-spend challenge – anything that works to help keep you motivated and on track. The goal is to make debt payoff more fun and thus, help to eliminate debt fatigue.

Letting Money Have too Much Power

This roadblock can also work to hinder your goal to reach debt freedom. On our own journey to debt freedom, I realized recently that I was letting money have so much power that I didn’t even want to spend $7.50 in gas to go see a free event with my family. We went, at my husband’s insistence, and had an absolute blast. That was when I realized that my eagerness to reach debt freedom was sucking the energy and the life right out of me. I had been giving money too much power and had forgotten that money is here to serve us, not the other way around.

Dealing with roadblocks on your way to achieving debt freedom is inevitable, but overcoming those roadblocks is possible with a little work, so don’t let those roadblocks hold you back from the wealth you know you can achieve.

 

What roadblocks have you encountered when working to reach long-term goals? What are your best tips for overcoming roadblocks? How do you overcome debt fatigue?

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of: Jayel Aheram

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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

22 comments

  1. I sometimes feel the fatigue of working towards a goal (financial independence) that’s still a few years away. It can just feel like such a long time! I have to remind myself of how far we’ve come thus far and that any big goal is worth working for years to achieve. Some days I’m better at this than others, but you’re right that you have to just keep plugging away!

  2. Debt fatigue is a difficult one to deal with. I found that making lifestyle changes helps make it easier to save money. For example, I started to bike to work a few years ago. It required a huge change to my morning routine. But once it was ingrained into my lifestyle it didn’t feel difficult anymore and it saved me at least +$200/month.

  3. One of the biggest roadblock I encounter is when I determine which are the needs and the wants. Sometimes there is a thin line between the two. It’s kinda hard to figure out. But, I know once I figure it out long-term goals will be easily achieved.

  4. I definitely experienced debt fatigue during the 3 1/2 years it took me to pay off debt. I did exactly what you suggested which was to think of why I am willingly doing this and also learn on close friends and my mom for encouragement. Now that DH and I are working toward FI, there are moments where we want to just speed things up to get there faster, but in this instance I also remind myself that our plan is working and that we won’t rush it and be forced to miss out on some present life experiences. I won’t kill myself tired in order to become FI a couple of years sooner.

  5. Debt fatigue is a seriously problem on the journey to debt freedom. I see it all the time with clients and when it happens, you have to give in a splurge a little. I appreciate people who can keep plugging away without the splurge, but sometimes even a $50 splurge can go a long way in your mental health and when you feel better mentally, you have the energy to keep going and do the hard work of combatting your debt.

    • That’s an awesome tip, Shannon. I think often times if we don’t do little rewards, money starts to have power over us that it shouldn’t have, and that’s part of the reason debt fatigue sets in so strongly.

  6. Our biggest roadblock this summer was medical bills. We set up payment plans and hope to pay it off soon! To combat debt fatigue, we each have an allowance that we can spend however we choose!

    • Ugh, we had some of that this summer too, Jayleen. It’s no fun paying them off, but it helps to know that we have a plan as a whole to be debt free, and that this is only a minor bump in the road.

  7. My biggest problem is thinking that I’m there already (or close to being there) when in fact I’m not. Sometimes because of all the early retirement planning I do I think I could retire tomorrow if I really wanted. But that’s obviously financially not the case.

    • Well, and I think it’s easy to get overconfident when looking at how far we’ve come, even if we do still have a long ways to go. I know we can fall prey to that.

  8. My problem was overconfidence – it still is from time to time. I tend to tell myself, “I can buy this, I earned it by doing so good and I’ll be able to pay it off quick.” I have to work harder to stop this because even though I’m not going further into debt, I sometime have set backs that messes with my plan.

  9. I know someone who still had some doubts, but he is still getting another debt just to keep Up with the Joneses. He always told me that he really wanted to be debt free, but he never even made an effort to do it.

    • Yeah, lots of people say that, Kate, but actions speak louder than words. It is difficult to commit to becoming debt free, but the alternative – staying enslaved to debt – is more difficult, in my humble opinion.

      • To really be free of debt you have to be sick and tired of it. When you’re sick and tired of being broke and having nothing to show for it (in the bank, retirement, etc) that is when you’ll fight to get out of debt.

        At least you hope that’s the catalyst for getting out of debt.

        For those on the long journey on debt repayment the fatigue part is definitely an issue. Need to put in a small victory celebration when you hit certain milestones.

        • I totally agree about needing to be sick and tired of the debt, Allen. And yes, debt fatigue is definitely real, but those small celebrations make it bearable. Thanks for sharing your thoughts – I appreciate it!

  10. Fatigue is definitely a real thing, both with paying off debt or eve with dieting. This is why it is so important to allow yourself to be rewarded as you go. If you are too strict, chances are you will rebel and negating a lot of your progress.

    • Rewards are huge, aren’t they? We went through the “too strict” thing, and it really brought us down deep. It was only after we lightened up a bit that we began seeing quicker progress – and less discouragement.

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