Money & Career

How to deal with debt fatigue and pay down debt

By: Renee Sylvestre-Williams

© Damjanac Author: Canadian Living Credits: © Damjanac

Money & Career

How to deal with debt fatigue and pay down debt

By: Renee Sylvestre-Williams
You know that moment when you sit down with your bills and budget and wonder, "When will it end?" If you've been in debt for a long time, it's easy to become discouraged and to experience the sinking feeling that you'll never get out of it.

The next thing you know, you've started spending money again and you rack up even more debt. It feels like a vicious and never-ending cycle. This is known as debt fatigue.

Many of us have been there before. And when you're drowning in debt, the moment you start spending money, you may feel a sense of failure, disappointment and sadness.

Paying off significant debt is a long road. Unfortunately for most of us, racking up debt is a much faster process than paying it off. But with smart strategies for tackling debt, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

There are ways to counter debt fatigue and start making financial progress. Here are some tips to help you pay down debt.

1. Recognition
Recognizing the signs of debt fatigue is the first step to paying down debt. Once you know the signs (feeling like all you do is pay bills, the sense that you'll never be debt-free and the desire to start spending money again), you can curb those feelings.

Step back from the situation, call a supportive friend and try not to let the problem overwhelm you. Remember, debt fatigue can happen to anyone.

2. Set goals to pay down debt
You may have already decided to pay off your debt but is that your only goal? Setting a large goal is great but can be counterproductive if all you see is this large goal and no way to accomplish it.

Keep the large goal in mind but break it down into smaller goals that are easier and faster to achieve. Financial expert Gail Vaz-Oxlade has one of the best visualization examples. She recommends making a paper chain with each link representing a certain amount of money (Vaz-Oxlade suggests $100.) Every time you pay off $100, you remove a link in the chain.

You can also do this with stars on a board. For every set amount paid, give yourself a gold star. It works for kids, why not for you? Just visualizing your decreasing debt can keep you motivated and on track.

Page 1 of 2 -- Discover how making debt-free plans and goals can help you combat debt fatigue on page 2.
3. Make debt-free plans
Once you've set yourself some new goals, why not write down what you want to do once you're debt free? Put them down on paper or pin pictures to a corkboard. Do whatever you need to do to motivate yourself. Do you want to travel, buy a home or build a retirement plan? Just think of the freedom and choice you'll have when you're debt-free and let that be your inspiration.

4. Mini-rewards
If you're serious about paying down debt, you've probably cut your spending down to the barest minimum and this can be a serious contributor to feelings of debt fatigue. Living frugally can be difficult to maintain over a long period of time. Give yourself a break with mini rewards. Work them into your budget, like a fancy coffee once a week, a movie or even dinner out once a month. These mini rewards give you some breathing room so you won't feel like all you do is pay bills and never have any fun.

5. Take a break
Just as you sleep when you're tired, take a rest to combat debt fatigue. You can't ignore your debt; that will only hurt your credit rating. What you can do is pay the minimum balance for a couple months and when you feel ready to tackle your debt, you can go back to your original payment schedule.

Once you've done all of this, take a deep breath and continue paying off your debt. It may be a long journey but with commitment, you will get there.

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Money & Career

How to deal with debt fatigue and pay down debt