Keeping your focus on getting out of debt can be a challenge for some people. It’s so incredibly easy to just not think about it at all and make a bad financial choice, like putting something unnecessary on the credit card or going out for an expensive dinner and drinks.
Imagine your goal
Take a few minutes and try to imagine having no debt. What would you do? Imagine not having to worry about bills; imagine not being stressed when thinking about your credit card. Feels great, doesn’t it? Take time to think what you will do when you’re debt free. It could something as simple as getting a good night’s sleep. Hold on to that feeling. When you feel depressed about your debt or inclined to spend more than you should, think about your goal and keep going.
One of the most effective tools I use to remind me of my progress is a visual debt reminder. It’s simply some sort of visual item that reminds you of your commitment to reduce or eliminate your personal debt and also to simply spend less than you earn. I have mine taped to my wall. My student loan debt, housing loan debt and tax bills are all on my wall as motivation to remind me that I need to pay these off to reach the first step of financial freedom.
Creating a Visual Debt Reminder
One form this might take is an image of that which is inspiring you to become debt free. For me, this is being able to have the freedom to move and live anywhere in the world at anytime while earning a passive income. This is my ultimate dream to travel and experience other cultures, live in new cities and meet new people without the hassle of having to rely on a paycheck each month and be in debt to a bank.
If you have a specific goal in mind, you might also want to also include a picture of this goal. I have a 10 year goal of buying a piece of land in the Philippines and opening a craft brewery, so for me I would potentially use a picture of a brewery as my visual reminder.
The Progress Bar
You might also want to construct a progress bar that shows your progress as you move from your current debt total to zero. Each time you calculate your debt total, you’ll (ideally) move a bit closer to zero, so you can fill in a bit of the progress bar. See the example below as a debt tracker for student loans.
What I did for myself was combine different elements. I digitally placed a progress bar at the bottom of an image so I could see myself progressing towards the goal of being debt free.
What Should You Do with Such a Reminder?
I keep such reminders all over the place: on my wall, in my phone and in a few other places where I’ll see it regularly. It constantly reminds me of my goals and my real priorities and cuts down greatly on the influence that spur of the moment things have on me.
Take a few minutes, sit down at your computer, and create for yourself a visual reminder of your personal finance goals. When you have one designed, print out a few copies and put them in places where they’ll remind you of what your real goals are (I really recommend wrapping one around credit cards, for instance). Then, as you make progress towards your goal, take pride in this effort and start filling in that progress bar. As you see it constantly filling up over time, you’ll begin to see the connection between your good choices and your dreams.
Tell a friend
It goes both ways. Friends can encourage you to spend more, but they can also inspire you to pay off your debt. Talk to them about your goal, ask them for their support and you might find that they have ideas that could help you.
It takes patience, planning and time to pay off your debt. It also takes some imagination and creativity. It can be a tedious process and it’s easy to be tempted to just give up and live with debt. But remember your dreams, goals and future budget and you’ll be inspired to stay on track.