I Don’t Want To Pay Off My Debt Anymore!


Image courtesy of marin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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?

About Travis

28 Responses to “I Don’t Want To Pay Off My Debt Anymore!”

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  1. We have been paying debt off for over three years. $109K in total and we have paid off $88k so far. There have been times that debt fatigue has set in, but what helps keep us motivated is the end goal. Having an extra $2k per month after we are done is the carrot that keeps us going.

  2. debbie says:

    I am currently working on my home equity line. It was originally 25,000, and I started in September paying 690 a month. The 600 is the over payment, I brought it down to 23 and change starting Jan 2014. It’s going to take about 40 payments to pay this huge amount off, but I am still working at it. It seems like forever, but it’s worth it. I only have about 36 more to go.

  3. Sassy Mamaw says:

    I have been through this feeling. I remember about two years into our plan, just saying out loud, “I’m so tired of being frugal!”. Eventually, it becomes a lifestyle. I’ve been through the same type of feelings while dieting, too.

    • I remember that feeling as well and did really become somewhat of a lifestyle for me. I’ve learned to relax that some, but still is part of my roots. Great comparison with dieting, I could not agree more.

  4. We are working on accelerating our debt payments right now. I so know this feeling, because looking at the total amount of our debt it feels like we may never get there. We have automated our accelerated debt payments, so even in months when it feels like we’re getting nowhere the payments still go out- and then we throw extra at it every chance we get.

  5. Dear Debt says:

    I am re-inspired with the new year, but seemed to have debt fatigue for a while. Paying like 75% of all the money you make towards debt is down right depressing….especially when you aren’t making a lot! I’m lucky I can even afford to do that, but I’m hustling hard to try and do it. I try to imagine when over 1k a month will be divided into three: retirement, savings and FUN fund. It will be great, and it will be worth the short term suffer. Although a decade of your life, with 5 really intense years doesn’t seem short especially when you are in it.

    • That’s great you’re re-inspired! I encourage you to take that and use it to continue to hustle. I know it can be depressing, use that end goal of what having that cash each month to drive you – it’ll SO be worth it in the end.

  6. I’m super gungho right now, because debt fatigue hasn’t remotely set in yet. If I stick to regular payments it will be done in 30 months, but I know I am getting a huge tax return in March or so. That huge win early on will hopefully keep me invigorated for the rest of 2014, and bring my timeline down to 18 months.

    • That’s awesome Alicia! When I was paying off debt, I used a couple of tax returns to knock down a serious chunk of it. Just think, with that plan you’ll be there next year. 🙂 Keep up the great work!

  7. E.M. says:

    I really do dislike my student loans hanging over me sometimes, but I know it’s not nearly as bad as it could be. I just know I don’t want to still be paying them back five years from now, so I need to work harder to be able to put more toward them. I hope to make a bigger dent in them this year.

    • It is really important to keep that perspective E.M. especially with something like student loans. That’s awesome you’re looking to find ways to put more towards them, every little bit over the minimum really helps in the long run.

  8. Jenn C says:

    I am frustrated by inflation presently. I am good about putting every penny I can towards my debt, and seeing the debt reduced is its own reward for me. But lately, I can’t put as much towards my debt. Everything seems to have gotten more expensive, and my paycheck has not kept pace. I feel like I can’t engage in the economy in a very meaningful way, because it’s all I can do to keep my head above water and make some progress on my debt. I’d love to make some smart investments in my home or further my education, but I just can’t anymore – that’s frustrating to me.

  9. I believe I just went through debt-fatigue during the holidays! I think the new year inspired me to keep going! I love your ideas for finding activities to keep you from CONSTANTLY thinking about money! 🙂

    • It easily can get that way during the Holidays, especially with the temptations out there to spend. Those outlets are so important and I found it really can help you focus more on your debt payoff.

  10. I don’t have debt anymore, but the same principle can be applied to how Im feeling about saving. Especially being out of debt, when I’m burned out, which I’ll be writing a post about, my mindset is also to say “f it” and not pay attention to my budget as much or what I’m spending money on, but then Iose site of my “mission” to be financially “free” (i.e., not stressed). It’s about shifting perspectives and doing whatever you can to get back on track.

    • That’s a great point Tonya and could not agree more. It can be so easy to get off track and just say to heck with it! Being able to recognize that and shift perspectives is vital to do if you want to be effective.

  11. Timely, post, my friend, as I am feeling extremely debt fatigued right now!!!! We’ve spent a massive amount of cash heating our home the last month or so during these sub-zero week and I’m kind of feeling like we’re taking a few steps back, even though that’s not really true. Thanks for the encouragement!

    • Thanks Laurie! I can empathize with the heat, we’ve been doing that these past few weeks as well. 🙂 That said, keep at it my friend, as you’re doing well when you look at the long term view of things.

  12. This has been a timely post for me too. I think that our debt fatigue (I really like that term) comes from the fact that we had high hopes of making a big payment from my husband’s very busy December (he’s self-employed) only to realize that we have more expenses than we anticipated. Ugh! A lot of hard work followed by a disappointment. New mindset required. At least we can pay those expenses. Thanks for the reminder to keep on keeping on.

    • Glad that it was timely Prudence. 🙂 I had heard the term when I was paying off my debt, and really think it is something many, if not most, experience when they’re paying off debt. That said, sorry to hear about the discouragement as I know how that can feel – I encourage you to keep that end goal in sight and keep on…it’s SO worth it in the long run. 🙂

  13. David says:

    Even though it is painful, I feel a step closer to vacation and relaxation every time I pay off an additional thousand dollars. Good luck paying off the rest of your debt.

  14. Charlie says:

    My wife and I decided to tackle our debt and I’m already feeling the fatigue. Maybe cause our goal is too ambitious? Trying to pay $400 k in 7-9 years. I’ve set myself a more realistic goal of paying off the student loan and car payment ($55k) by 2 years. You can read about our journey at my website.

  15. I’ve never heard the term debt fatigue before, but I definitely remember the feeling. I was a big proponent of the fact that with paying off debt – it isn’t really getting started that’s the hardest part, it’s sticking with it for years. Ugh. I’m so glad that’s all over with. Now the goal is to keep it over with forever.

  16. I think debt fatigue has affected me many times before and that’s why I’d never succeeded in making a substantial dent in my debt (until now, at least I hope so!).

    This month and next month will be hard for me as my income is expected to be lower. I’m self employed and this hasn’t been a great time. But things will change and I just have to look at how far I’ve come already!

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