If you are working on paying down a significant amount of debt, you have no doubt been faced with the reality that it is a marathon, rather than a sprint, to get to your goal of being debt free. As marathon runners know all too well, that journey can be painful at times. In order to stay motivated for the long haul, you need to make the best of the setbacks and bumps along the road and persevere, pressing on toward the finish line. Don’t let your struggles break you, but rather let them help make your journey even more worthwhile. We realize that sometimes that is easier said than done, so we have some proven financial freedom strategies to suggest that will assist you with perseverance along your path.
1. Recognize the small victories. If you are facing a mountain of debt and/or a high interest rate it is tempting to focus on what how far you have to go as opposed to the progress you are making. If you have found a way to make anything more than the minimum payment on your bills each month, even if it is just five or ten dollars extra, pat yourself on the back! That is a victory, even if just a small one, and can be motivation in and of itself to search for other ways to make small inroads here and there. Do not discredit your efforts, because every little bit truly makes a difference, even if it doesn’t feel that way at the beginning. Small victories tend to inspire more, larger victories, and before you know it you could be finding ways to put even more towards your monthly payments, and start to see your efforts snowball. Try tracking your progress each month to help better visualize your victories and the progress you’ve made so far.
2. Celebrate your progress. Once a month, plan a cheap-to-free method of celebrating the progress you have made toward your financial freedom. It can be something as simple as renting a $1 movie and scheduling a movie night with your significant other, or friends and family. Who knows, you might end up being the inspiration for someone else who is struggling with the debt monster!
3. Join others on the same road. Know that you are not alone in your quest for financial freedom. There is a huge online community of people who are on the same path, and connecting with that community can be a great source of inspiration for you. Look for Facebook groups, online blogs, perhaps even a local support group or free classes you can take at a nearby library, community center, school, or church. Hearing about someone else’s struggles and how they overcame them can provide you with the inspiration and support (and possibly a few strategies) you need to persevere along your journey. You might consider joining forces with another person or family on the freedom road, and make it a competition to see who can get out of debt first. Sometimes a little competition makes it more of a game and less of a chore.
4. Use the snowball system. When attacking a mountain of debt, the snowball method is a popular approach. It involves listing all your debts on paper, then attacking the smallest one first and making minimum payments on all the others. Once the smallest debt is paid, take the money you were throwing at that debt and apply it to the next smallest debt, and keep doing that until all your debt are paid.
5. Start a side hustle. In addition to using the snowball method to pay off successively larger debts until they are all gone, consider adding a side hustle and dedicate all the money earned from that endeavor to paying down your debt. This way you are attacking the problem from two sides, and that means it will be solved that much sooner. If you need some ideas, check out these 84 side hustles to add some extra money to your life.
Be sure to incorporate some fun along the way as you travel the road to your goal. Be prepared for the occasional slip up, and don’t beat yourself up over it. Just resolve to learn from your mistakes and above all, don’t give up! By recognizing your victories, celebrating small successes, garnering support, using a proven paydown system, and adding a little extra income to your arsenal of debt fighting weapons, you can pump up your perseverance along the way to your financial freedom.