Today’s post is courtesy of John Schmoll, who is the founder of Frugal Rules, a blog created to help people experience financial freedom through frugality. John is passionate about budgeting, saving and investing and enjoys sharing his knowledge and experience with others so they can avoid making some of the mistakes that he made. A veteran of the financial services industry, John has an MBA in Finance and experience as a licensed stockbroker.
Now that I’ve got your attention, let me tell you that I’m not thinking of giving up on paying off my debt. 🙂 Instead, I’m expressing the feeling that almost everyone who has paid off some sort of consumer or student loan debt experiences – the feeling that you just want to throw in the towel and say “to hell with it.”
I’ve thankfully been debt-free for over ten years, but I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was in the middle of paying off my $45,000 or so in credit card and student loan debt and I just wanted it to be over. It seemed like I’d never be free from debt and I wanted desperately to move on with my life.
Looking back now, I’m SO glad I didn’t follow my heart and instead fought through it.
The Going DOES Get Tough
As anyone who has spent years working through paying off debt knows, there are times where it gets tough. It could be for one reason or another, such as:
- You’ve only been able to make minimum payments for the past few months
- You’ve not been able to bring in extra income lately to speed up your debt payoff
- You’re tempted to go back to your unwise spending ways for one reason or another
What these emotions start to unearth is the enemy of paying off debt – debt fatigue. Debt fatigue may sound like pure craziness or some excuse to give up, but it is a very real emotion and one that can be incredibly dangerous to listen to.
As anyone who has dealt with this tiredness of paying off debt understands, it feels as if giving up will solve your problems. It means you can move on with your life, that things will return back to “normal” and you’ll be happier. That makes sense on one level, doesn’t it? No, it does not! That “normal” is something you want to avoid going back to altogether. It means returning to bad spending habits that result in racking up even more debt and putting you further behind in trying to obtain debt freedom.
Simply put, this debt fatigue is an emotion. The key is to recognize this emotion, remember that the situation you’re currently in is temporary, and know that giving up will only make matters worse. Easier said than done at times, I know, but incredibly important to be aware of.
Your Freedom is Worth the Short Term Pain
Debt fatigue impacts people differently and thus requires a variety of methods to counteract, but what underlies all of them is the belief that fighting through the fatigue will make you stronger. It will reinvigorate your debt payoff efforts and return that laser like focus required to slay the debt beast.
Having gone through this struggle of wanting to give up I know it was the freedom I’d have that continued to drive me and it should motivate you too. To be blunt, if you give in to that desire to no longer pay off debt you’re not going to experience true freedom. You see, debt (especially consumer debt) is a shackle. It holds you back from doing the things you want, and from accomplishing other important financial endeavors. Those are all things you can switch focus to once your debt payoff is done, but it won’t happen unless you fight through the desire to give up.
The best thing I did to help myself fight through this emotion and not just give up was to give myself an outlet and as many of them as I could. That outlet is going to look different for everyone, but the point is to find something you can use to take your mind off the debt payoff so it’s not on your mind all the time. It can be something as simple as exercising, or volunteering or allowing yourself a small amount of money each month to do something fun.
Paying off debt takes time and the feeling of wanting to give up is a very real one, but it’s just that – a feeling. Knowing how to battle that feeling is half the challenge and the resulting freedom is well worth keeping at it.
Are you paying off debt right now? If so, how’s your attitude towards it? Are you feeling motivated or are you fighting the doldrums of debt fatigue?