8 Tricks to Stay Motivated to Get Out of Debt

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
–Winston Churchill

Getting out of debt and saving money requires motivation. Lots of it. Motivation is that burning desire to better our lives and to achieve more than we have achieved thus far. Motivation may flow from a dissatisfaction with who we are or what we have, but that’s not always the case. Some people are motivated to improve their finances by the birth of their first child. Others are motivated to get out of debt when they’ve hit rock bottom.

Some, like me, are motivated to achieve some reasonable level of financial freedom so we don’t repeat the financial mistakes our parents made. I know all too well the sick feeling when your family fears they may lose their home. I don’t want that for me or my family, and that’s in part what motivates me to strive for financial freedom. But the key is that we need something to motivate us. And once we’ve found that something, we need to hold onto it like gold.

Being motivated about finances is a lot like the desire to be healthy. Losing weight and keeping it off are hard for at two reasons. First, good and bad decisions about what we eat do not have immediate, visible consequences. I can make a “good” decision by avoiding a candy bar in the afternoon, but I won’t lose ten pounds from that one decision. Likewise, eating the candy bar won’t cause me to gain ten pounds. I have to string together hundreds of healthy eating choices to see positive results. Second, once I’ve lost a certain amount of weight, my motivation to make healthy choices tends to wane. And so it is with money.

Living below our means, paying down debt, and investing require us to make many individually insignificant decisions that don’t have an immediate, major financial consequence. Do we save $100 a month that in 20 years at 10% interest appreciates to $76,000, or do we spend that money for immediate gratification? And how do we stay motivated once we start to see positive results? So often, folks get motivated to pay down debt, but as their debt gets paid off, they lose the motivation, and go out and borrow again. I’ve seen this cycle repeat itself over and over again.

There are some tricks, however, that we can use to help us get and stay motivated to become debt free and improve our finances. I hope they will help you find your motivation, cultivate it, and then use it to achieve your financial goals.

Published or Updated: July 31, 2013
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

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