Do you want to get out of debt? Have you had trouble in the past when you’ve tried to get out of debt? I did to in the beginning. Once Emily and I decided to commit and focus on achieving are debt free goal we saw results. Here is how we stayed focused during our debt free journey.
Emily and I had been trying to get out of debt since 2009, it felt like a long time, and it’s a long time. We didn’t become fully committed to getting out of debt until May 2015. This commitment stemmed from us paying off the last bit of student loans the month prior. Once the student loans were knocked out we were like, what’s next? This is when we decided to pay off our mortgage. It took a total of 19 months to pay off our mortgage once we decided to commit! But it had taken years to pay off our student loan debt, why? FOCUS! Since we knew exactly what we wanted our mortgage was annihilated compared to the length of time it took us to pay off our student loans.
Here is how we stayed focused.
Have a well thought out reason WHY!
First and foremost we created a reason WHY we wanted to get out of debt. Our “why” was the driving factor that kept us motivated to stick to the plan every month. We were able to get past any wants that we had.
Originally our plan was to quit our jobs and travel the world with our savings…a pretty sweet why. But it eventually changed to freedom for our children’s sake, a noble cause. We wanted to have the option to stay at home once our first child was born…we weren’t getting any younger.
So if you want to pay off your debt and stay committed you need to formulate your WHY. Here is how we did our formulation.
- Get together with your spouse.
- Dream about the future and what you want as a life style.
- Write your reason why down on paper and post it somewhere you can see it every day.
The key to getting out of debt is to have your significant other on board. When you have a common dream you’ll be unstoppable. This is why you MUST formulate the “why” with them. Your why needs to be something that drives your emotions to succeed. And don’t worry if your why changes while you’re getting out of debt, ours did. You can do this!
Create a debt payoff schedule.
Creating a debt payoff schedule helped us stay focused by taking thought out of the equation. We wanted to make our plan as simple as possible. I went online to powerpay.org typed in my payment information and how much I was willing to commit, as an extra payments, every single month. We made our extra payment achievable, but required effort. Don’t make it where you are scrambling every month. You can make this as detailed as you want but we left it simple by applying only a specific amount every single month, no more no less from month to month.
This is what Emily and I did. We put an amount that we knew we could reasonably hit every single month. Since we knew we could pay that amount every month we had confidence in knowing that we could carry out the plan.
Next you want to post your debt schedule in a prominent place. Once we created our debt schedule we posted it on our fridge so we saw it every single day. Below is the debt schedule Emily and I placed on our fridge. We had to create a new one when we decided to stop contributing to our 401k and pay even more towards our mortgage.
Have monthly budget meetings.
Another way we stayed focused was by making sure we had a written budget every single month. We would get together in our living room to hold these meetings (this is critical). I would open the laptop, have Emily by my side, and go through each expense we thought would occur for the upcoming month. FYI: fights may break out and this is ok, we had our share. This helped to make sure we were on the same page month in and month out.
These budget meetings also helped me for accountability purposes. If you’ve ever struggled with ANYTHING I recommend getting an accountability partner…they really work. I stay more focused when I know that someone is thinking about me and will hold me accountable. If I started to go off track she reminded me of our goal and vice versa. This helped us to not spend money on things that we thought we needed but could really do without until all of our debt was paid off…like new tires for Emily’s car, maybe we should have splurged on those, safety…
In order to stay focused on your debt free goal do what Emily and I did: create a reason why, create a debt schedule, and post the debt schedule in a visible place. More importantly, budget every single month in order to work towards the goal!
Two things I promise you. First, you’re going to be so happy when you’re debt free. Second, you’re going to be so frustrated during the process, it’s going to drive you crazy. However, the first reason is totally worth going through any frustration you may have.
You can do it! Stay focused!
What is your biggest obstacle for not staying focused on your goals?