For part one of this series, go here.
In our earlier post, we talked about how debt can seem insurmountable to some, as documented in the movie, Maxed Out. Unfortunately, some people feel their debt is so overwhelming that they take their own lives. That includes a college student who owed $12,000. While $12,000 is not a small sum, it’s not worth taking your life.
Debt and Your Self Worth
Our culture recognizes that many people identify their worth by their jobs. When we meet someone new and tell them what we do for a living, we say, “I am a teacher” or “I am an engineer.” We literally take on the identity of the job that we do.
What is not discussed is that we often measure our worth by our debt, also. If you’re in debt and struggling to make your monthly payments, it’s easy to feel worthless and hopeless. When my husband and I finally faced our nearly $57,000 in credit card and student loan debt, I felt embarrassed and stupid. After all, how did I let myself get in this position?
Your Thoughts Can Determine How Quickly You Can Get Out of Debt
You may begin your debt pay off journey as I did–chiding myself and feeling like it was hopeless. How would I pay off this debt that was greater than our annual income? The whole process felt hopeless, and I wanted to give up before I even started.
But through our two year long journey thus far, I learned some things that make paying off debt easier.
- Be confident. When I stopped chiding myself and instead decided to encourage myself, the weight caused by debt was lifted. Instead of thinking, “I’m so stupid for being in this much debt,” I thought, “We’ve made mistakes financially, but now we’re on the right path. We’re making strides in our debt repayment plan, and eventually we’ll be out of debt.” This encouraging self-talk increased my confidence and reduced my anxiety. I felt empowered.
- Look at the little picture. Sometimes looking at the big picture–the total debt that you owe–can be overwhelming. Instead, focus on the smallest debt. If you put your extra money on the smallest debt, you’ll see progress more quickly. If you owe $60,000 but your smallest debt is $5,000, focus only on that one. Don’t look at your total debt load. You’ll feel elated as you watch your progress paying down the smallest debt.
- Celebrate small victories. Encourage yourself every step of the way. Praise yourself when you’re able to pay more off in a month than you typically can pay. Celebrate when you pay off one debt. Shout in your house that the debt is gone. Share it with your friends if they know of your debt struggle.
If you’re in debt, you can either hurt yourself mentally and physically by berating yourself and wallowing in self-pity. Or, you can heal yourself mentally and physically by praising and encouraging yourself through the long journey of paying down debt. Which would you rather do?
How do you encourage yourself when paying down debt?