5 Minute Read
Let’s get real for a minute: Paying off debt isn’t easy. It’s all fun and games in the beginning. You pay off your smallest debt and roll right into the next one. Before you know it, you’ve cut up your credit cards and checked a bunch of small debts off your debt snowball.
You’re motivated! You’re on fire!
But then you get down to your last few debts—maybe even the final one. And you start to fizzle out. You aren’t seeing those small wins anymore, and you feel like you’re running on fumes. Without a few tricks up your sleeve, you’re in danger of slowing down or quitting altogether.
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We know what it’s like. That’s why we put together this list of four things you can do to keep yourself on track when the going gets tough. Plus, check out what people shared on the Dave Ramsey Facebook page about staying gazelle intense to pay off their debt!
1. Stay inspired with stories and tips from others!
You aren’t the only one who gets excited to make another big payment on your student loans. Lots of people blog about their journeys of getting out of debt and finding financial peace, and Dave Ramsey regularly features people doing their debt-free screams live on The Dave Ramsey Show. It’s those debt-free screams that inspire Suzanne B. to keep going on her own journey.
“It helps me to know the journey others have gone through, and that paying off our own debt is possible!” Suzanne says.
Whether you’re looking for kindred spirits or ideas on how to save money on groceries and entertainment, you can find encouraging articles and blogs online or listen to inspiring stories on the radio!
2. Find people to keep you accountable.
Financial Peace University is a great way to get some accountability. And if you’ve already done it once, guess what? Nobody will stop you from going through it again! It’s a lifetime membership—and you can take advantage of it as many times as you want. The community and accountability you find in an FPU class will help you stay gazelle intense. Will and Jenica T. even started a monthly accountability group for FPU alumni at their church called Continuing FPU.
“We meet once per month and welcome all past FPU graduates (no matter where the class was taken),” Will and Jenica say. “Each month is a different topic determined by what our class wants to review. Sometimes we have guest speakers or ELPs. It keeps us all motivated and accountable!”
If you haven’t already been part of a Financial Peace University class, sign up now!
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3. Create a visual of your money goal.
Because so many people are visual learners, it can help to actually see your money goals. Make a debt snowball thermometer for your fridge and color it in as you make more and more payments. Or place a sticky note on your bathroom mirror to remind yourself how much debt you have left—or how far you’ve come.
Rachael M. got really creative. “I made a giant paper chain with our final debt (our mortgage) on it, each link representing $500,” she said. “Every month we got to remove a link and see it shrink!” Having visual reminders will keep your goal at the front of your mind and help you reach it faster.
4. Set small rewards along the way.
Give yourself small rewards to stay motivated until the last debt is paid in full. You could treat yourself to something as small as a latte from your favorite coffee shop. Or you can pick something a little bigger, like a new pair of shoes or a video game. You choose your rewards. Just make sure they aren’t so extravagant that they slow you down.
Ron B. has a great system in place to reward himself with little treats any time he hits a milestone. He summarizes it this way: “Pay off a tire account? Budget a dinner out next month. Pay off a credit card? Budget a day out of the house and have some fun, or add $25 to each other’s pocket money for the month. You’ve gotta have things like that or you’ll resent the journey.”
The pride that came from paying off your smaller debts may have been enough of a reward in the beginning of Baby Step 2. But the bigger debts take a little more time. It’s the same way when you’re building up your full emergency fund or paying off the mortgage. You’re in it for the long haul. But if you stay focused, patient and motivated, you’ll reach your goals before you know it.
Don’t forget to take action to stay on track as you’re working through the Baby Steps. If you’re looking for a way to stay motivated but are pressed for time, check out Financial Peace University Online!