Hi Money Manifesto readers! I’m Katie from Slowly But Surely, where I write about tackling my goals, specifically getting out of debt. I started this year with $68,000 of student loans and a credit card balance and I’ve started tackling the debt pretty aggressively.
At the beginning of the year, I moved home to live with my parents rent-free. I do the cooking while they pay for the groceries. I work remotely at an entry-level marketing position and I pay off extra debt by babysitting, dog sitting, and running my own side business, Katie Pelton Resumes. These efforts have lead to paying off over $5,000 worth of debt so far this year and becoming credit card debt free! It has been incredibly rewarding, yet consuming.
The more I learn about personal finance, my passion and motivation grow. No matter how hard I work, I continually use any spare time to find ways to earn a few extra dollars to pay off debt. I find myself taking as many side jobs as I can get, endlessly reading and writing about getting out of debt, and constantly discussing my new knowledge with family and friends.
I’m making great progress but I’m still a long way from being debt free. Even when I’m doing everything right, the slow process is exhausting!
The biggest lesson I’ve learned in this process is to maintain realistic goals to avoid debt fatigue. Debt fatigue is “when a debtor stops making payments on his or her debts and starts spending again after being overwhelmed by the amount of debt incurred and the seemingly futility of the debt repayment process (the overall amount of debt owed does not appear to dramatically lessen as payments are made),” according to Investopedia.
I often catch myself working all day, babysitting at night and when the baby goes to bed I’ll help a client with a resume or read finance blogs. I need to remind myself that although time is money, I need to pace myself for such a large goal. Sometimes when the baby goes to bed I need to grab a good book and just enjoy some peace and quiet, guilt free. Sometimes I need to enjoy a happy hour or girls weekend with friends instead of babysitting.
Finding a balance may seem contradictory but it keeps me from feeling like a slave to this goal. It is important, however, to keep these limited breaks affordable so I’m not taking away from major debt progress or worse, getting into more debt! When I take these breaks I’m able to return with a refreshed motivation for getting my next babysitting job or making another big debt payment.
It is also important to push myself while keeping my expectations low, which is completely out of the norm for me. In the past I was too strict and had unrealistic expectations as to when I would see progress, which set myself up for disappointment and ultimately debt fatigue. Now, I map out the minimums I can make in a month and make a timeline from there. Any additional progress is just a huge pat on the back that motivates me to keep working.
It might seem simple, but these reminders have made all the difference so far in continually paying off my debt in a big way. It’s only been three months but I look forward to maintaining this momentum!
Have you ever dealt with debt fatigue? What useful tips can you offer from your experience that you used to get over it?