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You’ve made the decision to hunker down and tackle your debt. You’ve read all the advice, learned ways to reduce spending, and learned how to stick to a realistic budget. That’s fantastic! Making financial changes is a huge undertaking that requires work and determination. Consider your sanity, though. While you have your nose to the grindstone making money, not spending money, and paying your debt, how do you keep from losing your mind?
1. Keep Your Eye on the Prize
The goal is to pay off your debt, but the prize is to be free, meaning free of debt hanging over your head. Free from scrimping and scrutinizing every penny spent. Free to decide where your money goes instead of having your debt decide for you. When a goal is far away, it can take real effort to remain focused on it, and it’s to stray. Remain vigilant. Keep your eye on financial freedom.
2. Have Fun, Cheaply
When you’re on a strict budget, you may feel like you need to cut out anything that’s fun. However, putting yourself on a “no fun” budget will eventually backfire, and you’ll find yourself on a spending spree just to experience something fun.
Fortunately, there are many ways to go out and have a good time without spending a lot of money. Go on a picnic in a state park. Have friends over for a party but make it potluck and BYOB. Take a hike. Visit your local library, which is a treasure trove of cheap entertainment such as free movies, free activities, author events, and passes to area museums and attractions for free or at a greatly discounted cost.
3. Go for a Walk
One of the most important things to do while you’re in the midst of the stresses of paying off debt is to take care of yourself and stay healthy. Eat right, drink lots of water, and get plenty of exercise. Exercise is a big stress reliever. No matter how in shape you are, walking can relieve stress, improve your mood, and clear your mind. The best part: it’s free! There’s no need to join an expensive gym; just get out in the sunshine and walk. On a rainy day, go to the mall and walk the concourse, but be sure to leave your money at home!
4. Think Positively
It’s easy to feel dread, doom, and discouragement when you have a big dark cloud of debt hanging over your head. Don’t let it consume you. It’s there, it’s a problem, and you’re fixing it. Believe in yourself and that it’ll get better, because it will! The power of positive thinking is powerful indeed. Positive people are healthier, both mentally and physically. They’re happier; they’re better able to deal with stressful situations; and they tend to surround themselves with other positive people.
5. Forgive Yourself
Understand that your actions got you into debt, and your actions will get you out. Accumulating debt doesn’t mean that you’re flawed; it means you need to control your actions and make smart financial decisions a habit. Good people struggle. Good people get into debt. Getting out of debt is a marathon, not a sprint, and you’re likely to slip and fall along the way. Forgive yourself. Everyone falls now and then, especially if attempting to stay sane while in huge debt. Get up, dust yourself off, and get back on that path forward.
6. Make Technology Do the Work for You
Paying off debt takes persistence, patience, and dedication, but it’s easy to get frustrated with all that work. There are many free or inexpensive apps you can download to your phone to track your spending, create a budget, clip coupons, find the cheapest gas, and keep track of due dates for your bills. Staying organized, while paying down your debt and using technology to simplify the process, will help to keep you from feeling overwhelmed by it all.
7. Stay Away from Social Media
We all love to go on Facebook or Instagram and see what our friends and family are doing. The problem with social media is that people tend to accentuate the good things going on their lives and remain silent about the bad, and understandably so. However, this creates an unrealistic view of the world going on around you. We see pictures of their trips, their new purchases, and their fun. We don’t see the accumulating debt. We don’t know that Uncle Phil made a wise financial decision buying that Jet Ski when he’s behind on his mortgage. We merely see him having carefree fun at the lake when we cannot. Stop comparing yourself to others, or you’ll never figure out how to stay sane while in huge debt. The best way to do this is by avoiding social media.
8. Don’t Listen to the Naysayers
People may chuckle at your brown bag lunch or criticize you when you pass up those expensive concert tickets, but don’t let them discourage you. The only way to get out of the cycle of debt is to keep moving forward.
The road to financial freedom travels uphill, and being mindful of your own mental and physical health will make the journey a successful one. Hard work always brings rewards, and paying off your debt is no different. By taking care of your debt while taking care of yourself, you’ll soon reach your goal of financial independence.