Maintaining the intensity of paying off debt can be exhausting. More often most people begin this process with a lot of energy and motivation from the anger of the vice of debt, or from the expected rewards of freedom after paying off debt. In either case, paying off debt especially if it is in the tune of tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars can be draining and may cause a burnout. Life never stops so that one can pay off their debt, responsibilities keep piling up that seems to demand a place on the budget list. Prioritizing these responsibilities is a key to staying afloat.
I have always appreciated how marathon runners are able to keep a constant pace sometime all the way to the finish line. Most runners will tell you endurance and practice is vital to running a race. These marathon principles apply to the race out of debt.
10 Steps to maintain debt snowball intensity
1. Build endurance/self motivation
Building mental stamina is essential to running a marathon, and it is very crucial when paying off debt. It’s one thing to be motivated to become debt free. It’s another thing to maintain this motivation and this mindset day by day. Personalizing this issue has been very helpful for me. We felt charged and motivated while attending the FPU series, but we had to own the idea and decide that it is about us getting financially healthy.
2. Adopt a positive attitude
Positive attitude is a breeding ground for optimism, a positive energy which results in creativity and the ability to push ourselves beyond our limit. The flipside is negative attitude which breeds discouragement and eventual failure.
3. Stay focused
Having the end in mind helps in staying focused and prevents us from getting sidetracked. We do this by having a written plan of what we want to accomplish, and daily working toward this plan.
4. Have the money talk
We have found this to be a key to maintaining the intensity. Since we have different approaches to money management, talking about it with my wife helps us reassess our position and plan our next move. Sort of a ‘time out’ call by a ref in a football game. For couples, talk to your spouse and for singles talk to your accountability partner(s) on your progress and challenges, and of course “walk the talk”.
5. Do not overdo it.
We understand the desire to fly out and become debt free, however to totally be free and maintain the debt free life, it requires re-learning new money behavior and adjusting a lifestyle. Sprinting is not exercised in a marathon race and those who attempt to do so get out of the race the first few miles in the same way, sprinting out of debt may not be the healthy way. Getting into a comfortable but aggressive pace with a lifetime commitment to live debt free is a principal here.
6. Celebrate small victories.
Because for us becoming debt free is a journey, celebrating every milestone rekindles the sparks once again and creates new energy to tackle the next debt hurdle. And yes we are kicking it off!
7. Do not get discouraged.
I have to admit that i have been a victim of discouragement but have also found new energy each time we kick off some debt.
Have to agree with Dave Ramsey that
personal finance is 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior. You need some quick wins in order to stay pumped enough to get out of debt completely. When you start knocking off the easier debts, you will start to see results and you will start to win in debt reduction.
8. Stay out of more debt
This requires discipline and a deliberate choice to stay away from anything debt related. I realized that as long as i have the credit cards in my wallet, even though they are paid off, am tempted to use them to buy gas, coffee or such small things. We therefore made a decision to shelf the credit cards.
9. Think stewardship
The term stewardship is usually associated with tithing, giving and generosity. While these are true Christian duties, stewardship calls for the understanding that as Christians we are not owners but care takers. God has entrusted to us things and resources that we have and He requires of us to faithfully execute his will as faithful stewards.
Both riches and honor come of you, and you reign over all; and in your hand is power and might; and in your hand it is to make great, and to give strength to all.( 1 Chronicles 29:12)
I believe this is the single most powerful tool that Christians have that can activated anytime. Prayer will not get you out of debt no matter how good or fervent you do it, but you will find strength, joy and wisdom. Learning to involve God even in the smallest decisions we make have brought us enormous joy and satisfaction.
“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (Jeremiah 33:3)