Keeping Motivation Up

Brandon has $55,000 in debt, including $15,000 on a car loan. He has a part-time job and is working up to 70 hours some weeks. Brandon wants to know what Dave recommends for staying motivated through this process.

QUESTION: Brandon in South Carolina is starting Baby Step 2, and he makes $30,000 a year. He has $55,000 in debt, including $15,000 on a car loan. He now has a part-time job and is working up to 70 hours some weeks. Brandon wants to know what Dave recommends for staying motivated through this process.

ANSWER: We all can lack motivation because we get tired. There’s an old saying that says fatigue makes cowards of us all. Sometimes when I am traveling a lot, if I’m not careful, I don’t have the same level of boldness, strength or compassion when I get tired. Fatigue is a real thing when you are working those kinds of hours and facing that kind of stuff.

Your car balance is awfully high, and my general rule is that you don’t want to own vehicles that are more than half your annual income—that’s all your vehicles totaled up. The car is half your annual income. That tells me that it’s a big weight as a part of this. My temptation if I’m in your shoes is to sell that and move down in car. Get a beater and that would get rid of $15,000 of the $55,000.

Even if the car was paid off and you had $40,000 in debt and called me up with the same question, I would tell you to get rid of the $15,000 car and get a $5,000 car and throw the rest of it at the debt.

You just need to feel some progress and sometimes you need to throw some dynamite in the middle of your life to feel that progress. That’s something I would consider. Other than that, I think you make the debt snowball list and keep it in visual form up in front of you. I knew one lady who kept hers up on the fridge and she would look at the red lines drawn through the debts she had paid off. That told her she was making progress.

It keeps your goal right in front of you, and sometimes that helps when you are tired. The other thing is that the reality is when you are tired, you are just tired. Sometimes you suck it up and you go on anyway. It’s the fourth quarter of a football game and you’ve had your butt kicked for three quarters and you’re worn out, but you strap on the helmet and go do it again.

It’s intestinal fortitude. It’s this thing inside of you that says you are not going to win if you lay down, so you can’t lay down. The more you do it, the easier it will get. You just started this a month and a half ago. If you call me back in 18 months and you’ve been working these hours and made huge progress; the more progress you have, the more energy you’ll have.

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