Top 5 Ways to Stay Motivated While Paying Off Debt

Making the choice to gain control of your finances and pay off debt is NOT easy.

Paying off $245,000 worth of debt is absolutely NOT easy.

The absolutely only way that we’ve been able to pay off as much as we have so far ($136,000 in 3.5 years) is by continuing to keep motivated.

It’s fairly easy to stay motivated on a goal for 6 months, or 2 years, but what about when it will take you 5-6 years? How do you motivate yourself to keep striving towards your financial goals when it seems so difficult? I’m here to tell you that I can completely relate.

On the days that I would cry because I wanted to be at home with my babies and not at work, or when my husband had to go to his second job and I was alone with my 3 babies, or when I couldn’t stand to eat one more meal with rice and beans, or when I didn’t think I could wash one more ziploc bag, I used these 5 tips to stay motivated!

1.) Listen to Dave Ramsey podcasts and debt free screams

Listening to Dave Ramsey on an almost DAILY BASIS has been the biggest contributor to our continued intensity.

While I was working I would listen to the show through headphones every day!

On his YouTube channel I have listened to almost every single debt free scream posted. I created two different YouTube playlists; one for good debt videos and one for debt motivation. The debt motivation playlist is the one I listen to when I think I can’t continue one more day with gazelle intensity.

It ALWAYS changes my mood and motivates me once again. 

On my debt motivation playlist I save the debt free screams that most relate to our situation and are the most motivating.

The times when I would be so sad that my husband was off to his second job he would remind me to go listen to Dave Ramsey. By the time he got home late at night I would be pumped up and ready to keep fighting! When he returned to his second job when our third baby was 3 weeks old and I was totally overwhelmed, having a playlist already created that I could turn on to keep me focused on our goal was such a saving grace.

2.) Post your total debt number EVERYWHERE around your house and car.

Write it in a dry erase marker on your bathroom mirror, or a post it note in your car or on your computer. Being confronted with the totality of your debt everyday means you can’t escape it and it will get you mad! Dave Ramsey says the madder you are at your debt, the faster you will get out!

If you have your debt posted in your car, it’ll make you think twice before pulling through the Starbucks line.

3.) Get accountability partners

Having your spouse on board and working together is the most important accountability partner. You can’t gain any traction if you’re not working together! But outside of your spouse it is also important to have others on your side while getting out of debt that will call you out if you’re getting off track.

When our coffee pot carafe shattered and I was about to go out to Kohls and buy a new one (even though I had enough gift card credit to cover the purchase) my mom reminded me that Goodwill sells coffee pots for much cheaper! $10 later I had a brand new looking Gevalia coffee pot instead of spending $30-40.

4.) Post your monthly budget somewhere you’ll see EVERY day!

We have our monthly budget posted on our refrigerator where we c­­­­an see it every day! You can’t forget how much your grocery budget is for the month if you see it every day!

If your fridge isn’t a good place for you then try on your front door before you leave, an important notebook, your car, or some other place you see all the time.

5.) Debt countdown

Link chain

When we hit the 50% paid off mark we decided that we needed more gazelle intense accountability and created a “debt link chain”.

We had $123,000 of debt left still and cut out 123 strips of paper. Then we wrote on every chain a reason why we wanted to get out of debt or something we were going to do once we were debt free. Some goals were very noble like wanting to change our family tree, travel to specific places, have money to adopt and sponsor Compassion International children. Some links are more frivolous like “buy a new vacuum” (Ours works, but falls over on you and won’t stand up) or “Have fresh mozzarella cheese back in the grocery budget”. This was a really fun exercise to do with our children! Get your whole family together and dream about everything you can do for the kingdom of God without the chains of debt holding you down.

We have the chain all around or front room and not only does it mean we see it every ­­­­day but other people also see it. People have asked us what the chain is and our 5 year old tells them “It’s all of the reasons we’re getting out of debt!” and then tells them all of the cool things we can do afterwards because she helped write some of our reasons. ­­

Debt and Equity Jars

This is an idea where you have two jars, one to represent the amount of debt you have and one for your equity, and a number of items that represent the amount of debt you have. Most people use pebbles or marbles but you can be creative!

Decide what increment you will use to represent your debt. Make it correspond with your amount of debt and ability to pay it off. For some people you might have one pebble = $100 of debt, but for some you may have one pebble = $1,000 of debt.

Did any one of these ideas inspire you to keep going along your financial journey? I’d love to hear! I have lots of other tips but these are my absolute 5 most motivating tips. Do you have any others?

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