Tips To Kickstart Your Debt Reduction

by The Happy Rock on January 17, 2008


For those of us who have a mountain of debt or a small income, the journey to get out of debt is a long process. Along the way it is easy to become bored, sidetracked, depressed, or even to give up. Keeping on track is not easy, I know from experience. It took us 4 years to destroy our 70k in debt, but I learned a few tricks to help keep us on track. I wanted to share a list of tips that will help you deal with the down times during your debt destruction process.

  1. Find your motivation. I have said before, purpose one of the biggest motivators. It will fuel our passion. What I am talking about here is reflecting deeply on the positive benefits that you will receive when you are out of debt. Things like looking at pictures of your children and thinking about the security and family legacy you want to leave behind. Or maybe allowing yourself envision being able to quit the job that you hate, the stress that will be removed from your life, or the freedom that you will gain. One final trick that helped me focus was to listening to the Dave Ramsey Show. Hearing others struggles and successes and having the zero debt principles reinforced really renewed my focus.
  2. Accountability and friends. Lean on your spouse or friends when you are weak. Hopefully you have relationships that can relate to your struggles and offer support. Many a time during our journey, either the Rockette or I felt week, but the other would carry the burden for a while. If don’t have those type of relationships, it would be worth trying to find some friends to walk through the struggle with you. Blogs and web forums can be an awesome way to connect others on similar journey. Maybe even starting your own blog could inspire you.
  3. Track your progress. By this point in the journey you should have a strong understanding of your finances and how much debt you have left, but sometimes we lose perspective. If you have $15,000 left out of 40k, it is easy to forget that we have already come more than half way and focus on the tough struggles ahead. I found it amazingly cathartic to have my debt listed on a nice big shee to help provide perspective and and satisfaction as we crossed off each debt. Hanging the list on the refrigerator or in your office can also be a great reminder and motivator.
  4. Increase your income. If you haven’t thought about it yet, think of ways to boost your income. Often our debt feels so insurmountable, because we have such a little shovel. Consider delivering pizza or doing some other side jobs for a while to give you an extra push. Remember, this isn’t a long term solution, but a short term answer to help clear up your debt. If you keep your purpose and goals in mind it makes the burden a lot lighter while you put in the extra effort. You could even try selling some of your stuff on eBay or craigslist. Maybe it is even time to ask for a raise, what you can do to get a raise, or overtime.
  5. Try an experiment. Ideally the experiment should support your debt reduction, but it doesn’t have too. What this accomplishes is helps distract you from the pain that you are feeling, and breed confidence to help fuel your debt reduction. Often the change in focus can be quite fun and exciting. Some great examples of experiments would be canceling cable for a month, not watching TV for a week, cash only spending for a month, cooking all your meals at home, quitting coffee, volunteering, etc.
  6. Treat yourself. Some people respond to this idea more than others, but often giving yourself a small, and I mean small, reward after a big goal or during a sluggish time can help get the juices flowing. Going out to the movies or a play, taking a long weekend to a cabin, or buying a video game are all great ideas. Remember to save and pay cash for whatever you purchase.

Hopefully this list provides you some good ideas to help kick start your debt reduction plan again. If you have any comments or other tips to offers readers, please feel free to comment.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Jerry January 17, 2008 at 12:59 pm

I love your site. It incorporates more facets to debt than just the money making or lack of it aspect. I really thought the treating yourself was a great idea. I don’t do this often but I try not to feel bad about it when I do. It’s insurance for my sanity. And, it leads me to make better decisions because I’m calmer and happier.

Thanks for the great ideas!



speedy January 17, 2008 at 9:19 pm

Items #5 and #6 are ones I have not tried yet.

An experiment sounds like a great idea, not just because it keeps the mind off of the misery, but because it involves doing something different. I have been keeping the budget and focusing on debt, but I have been stuck in my routine for a while. Now would be a great time for me to try this, to help avoid debt reduction burnout.

A reward is also a great idea, but I am at a loss just now to figure out something to do or buy as a treat. How sad is that?


Sue January 17, 2008 at 11:15 pm

I like the idea about putting the spreadsheet on the refrigerator. Maybe a mini spread sheet in the wallet would help also. Or at least the credit card should say ouch when touched.
Striving to have a debt free year!


nomorespending January 19, 2008 at 2:08 am

#2 There are many times when I feel like blowing the budget and my husband, with some gentle support stops me.
Also you’re right about blogging, its a great motivator


The Happy Rock January 19, 2008 at 3:01 am

@Jerry – Great tip. Treating yourself should be something that is enjoyable and not something to feel guilty about. Hopefully the treat isn’t an impulse buy, but rather something that is planned and on purpose. Thanks for stopping by.


Amanda @ Me vs Debt January 22, 2008 at 8:34 am

All of these are tried and true. I wouldn’t be on my way as I am now if it weren’t for each of these tips. Great post :) And by the way, congratulations on meeting your goals! Truly inspirational!


Diana January 23, 2008 at 1:09 am

One more thing I want to share about debt solving is do not get another loan to solve your debt. Especially if you got the loan from the bank with high interest. It is just like diging bigger hole to cover smaller hole. We better count on what we have and live sober.


The Happy Rock January 25, 2008 at 4:16 pm

@Amanda @ Me vs Debt – Thanks Amanda. Glad to help. Kicking our debt was a long journey, but well worth it!


The Happy Rock January 25, 2008 at 4:20 pm

@Diana – I agree getting another loan doesn’t solve the problem it attacks a symptom of larger behavior or situational problems. If you don’t change the pattern that got you into debt, you will end up with a new loan and more debt. Great point!


bdurfee February 1, 2008 at 9:19 pm

You kicked $70k in debt? Now that’s what I call an expert! Thank you for these great tips.


Debt Tips > February 12, 2008 at 1:23 pm

Some excellent points. #3 Is a ‘must do’. Monitoring your situation and progress is crucial.


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