Debt Burnout


Image by LunaDiRimmel via Flickr

You’ve got a budget.  You’ve got a debt repayment plan.  You’ve been paying off your debt.  You’ve even paid off a few of your smaller debts.  Now you’re staring down the barrel of your big debts: your mortgage, a $30,000 credit card, maybe a car payment.  You’re looking at months of payments with no quick wins; no more watching your debts die every few months.  You’re in the middle of a very long slog.

All of the easy milestones have been reached and the next one is a year or more away.  This is when debt repayment gets hard.  How can you avoid getting burnt out doing the same thing, month after month, with no major visible progress?

1.  Keep your eye on the prize. Try focusing on the end result, while ignoring the time it takes to get there.  Do you have a reward planned for when you pay off your debt?  If not, consider that to be your new shining goal-post.  My wife and I plan on taking an Alaskan cruise when our debt is repaid.

2.  Ignore the prize. If #1 doesn’t work for you, try focusing on just the current month’s progress.  How much did you pay off this month?  Was it more than last month?

3.  Make micro-goals. Try breaking the long slog into bite-sized pieces.  How fast can you pay off the next $1000?  How many months will it take to pay off that TV you bought last year?  Sometimes, meeting a smaller goal can make the whole works feel like it’s going by faster.

4.  Take a snowball vacation. For just one month, take every dollar you would normally apply to your debt–except your required payments–and have some fun with it.  Take a weekend trip, have a fancy dinner, or pick up that video game system you’ve been eying.  Something.  Anything to take your mind off of your repayment plan for a while.   Be careful not to make this a habit or you will never get out of debt.

5.  Start a blog to share your pain.

A debt snowball is a long, intense process.  If you’re not careful, you can burn out and let the whole thing collapse.  How do you avoid burnout?

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    1. We only have mortgage debt now and it going to be along slog to pay it off. We’re going with #2 and ignore the number. We’ll just keep paying a bit extra every month and go on living our lives.

    2. Our only debt is our mortgage, and that is about 5 years off from being paid off. However, I agree with what you have said- you gotta celebrate the small victories just so you don’t get bummed out!

      • I try to celebrate every victory and I try to make sure that my wife and kids see it as a big deal, too. If everyone sees paying off my car as a party, I get more support. 🙂


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