Staying Focused and Motivated While Getting out of Debt

by Ryan Yates

Focus your intensity on your finances

Just like with any other large endeavor that’s worth doing, getting out of debt means being in it for the long haul. It means sticking with it, even when you get discouraged or seem to be going backwards.

In fact, that’s exactly when it becomes critical to keep your eyes on the prize — and beyond.

What do I mean?

Well, my husband and I are working hard at getting the last debt in our list paid off: our mortgage. There are months when we make great progress and are filled with motivation. We can’t wait to send in every extra dollar! Then there are the times when our dog needs a thousand dollar surgery, our cat needs multiple vet visits and expensive medication, and tuition for my son’s dual enrollment class is due. All in the same month.

But during both kinds of months, I spend a few minutes every couple of days thinking and talking with my husband about how great it will be when we are out of debt for good.

Of course I think about the money that no longer having a mortgage payment will free up (which I consider the prize that we’ll keep on winning), but I go beyond that to think about the other ways it will bring us freedom — the “beyond”.

Let me tell you, when you can live well on very, very little money each month, there are a whole lot more opportunities available.

If we disliked our jobs, we could quit without worry. If we want to explore some crazy business idea that may not make a penny, we can do so. If we want to travel the world without worrying whether or not we can get time off work, we can. If we want to start a foundation, we can do that too.

The possibilities are endless, and that’s the real freedom that comes when you don’t owe anyone anything. You can’t put a price on choice, so it’s worth working through the discouraging periods to get there.

We all have dreams, and it’s worth dwelling on them as we work to make those dreams possible. That’s keeping your eyes on the prize, and beyond.

This is a guest post from Jackie Beck who blogs at MoneyCrush and who also has developed a great app called Pay off Debt.  Pay off Debt is a debt snowball app for the iPhone, iTouch, iPad and Android platforms. I was a beta tester for the Android version and I loved it.

Photo By toolstop

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Squirrelers January 25, 2011 at

I like that, keeping the eyes on the prize. Good way to put it, reminds me of sports. Really, in terms of personal finance, I totally agree with the idea of keeping in mind your goals.

Have a vision of your dream life, figure out what it takes to get there, and set goals to get you to that place. Keeping the eyes on the ultimate prize is key.

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Budgeting in the Fun Stuff January 25, 2011 at

Great points Jackie! Without any debt, you will truly have way more possibilities. My husband and I make most of our decisions, including our choice to pay off our house as fast as possible, based on our dream of early retirement. Without a mortgage, we would actually be living on less than $27,500 a year and that’s with all our fun stuff….

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Jenny January 26, 2011 at

That is awesome, Jackie! We are debt free except for the house. I hope to work on paying that off after we get a nice chunk in savings. It would really be so wonderful to think of what we could do with the money not being sent to pay it each month!

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krantcents January 26, 2011 at

What are you going to do when your mortgage is paid off? Do you have a plan?

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Little House January 27, 2011 at

I think you totally nailed the reason for begin debt free – the freedom to do things you want; quit a job, take a risk, etc. How fulfilling that will be when you are completely DEBT FREE! I’m a ways from this feeling, but I can imagine it for now. 😉

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Jenn January 28, 2011 at

We also have only our morgage to pay off at this point, so every Friday any extra cash gets skimmed of the account and goes to an extra mortgage payment or into our retirement accounts. Not exciting, but at this point that’s just fine.

Problem is rather than continuring to hammer away at the morgage for another 5yrs I’d rather just sell the place and either massively downsize or better yet rent a little apartment and stop the mortgage payments plus get our hands on the $350k of equity in our home. It would move our planned retirement up from December 2020 to virtually now.

Since my DH is definitely NOT on board with selling the house and retiring sooner, we’ll carry on for now. I’ve also begun working on an alternate set of calculations. This time I’m testing out the calculations for a plan where I retire in 7 years and DH works at least another 3-4 years with every cent being set aside stricly to fund the extra required to carry the house he wants so desperately to keep even when it makes no sense financially. I’m imagining he may have a change of heart when one January morning he’s fighting his way out of a snow filled laneway to get to work, and I’m relaxing with a good book, or plotting my next trip to somewhere warm. How much of your life energy is it really worth just to pay the high taxes and utilities on this place? Can’t you think of anythink more fun to do with the equity tied up in morter and bricks? Yes, building this place had been a lovely home, and it was a good investment, but only if you eventually cash in and get your profit out.

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Brian D. Hawkins January 29, 2011 at

Great point Jackie, that type of positive affirmation can also help carry us through in times of temptation such as impulse buys and hasty decisions. It’s sounds like both you and your husband are on the same page and that’s going to make all the difference in the world.

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Nunzio Bruno February 2, 2011 at

Great post Jackie! And when do I get to have a guest post up here from Financially Digital ;P

I think that it’s always necessary to hear this message. Getting your finances fit and free isn’t always easy or fun – you need to stay focused. Professionally and personally I know that it can mean long days and nights and hair loss (that one personally) Great post!

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Jeffrey Kosola February 7, 2011 at

Nunzio, send me a post and I’ll be sure to post it.

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Jackie February 8, 2011 at

@krantcents My plan is to save up and buy a condo or two once the mortgage is paid off.

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