Well we made it to the last week of our Do It Today series over how to live a debt-free life. We only have 4 more steps to cover. If you have not read about steps 1-8, please go back and do that now. If you are all caught up, let’s move on and finish this thing strong!
Let’s recap the first 8 steps before moving on to the last few:
- Take stock of your debt
- Don’t dig yourself deeper
- Negotiate a lower APR
- Create an emergency fund
- Create a budget
- Trim expenses
- Create a debt snowball
- Boost your income
If you have worked on these 8 steps already, you should be prepared to finish the last 4 steps strong.
Step 9: Put All Extra Cash in Your Snowball
Let your debt snowball grow by packing it with all your unexpected income. Seasonal bonus at work? Add all or most of it to your snowball. Unexpected refund (aka Stimulus payments)? Let it go toward paying down your debt. Birthday gift money from Great Aunt Sally? You know where it’s going!
It isn’t easy to say goodbye to an unexpected windfall, but all that extra money will help you reach your goal that much sooner. It might seem unfair or like the last thing you want to spend your birthday or Christmas money on but it is only for a season. It won’t have to do that forever if you get the debt paid off now.
I used to have a gym membership at Planet Fitness and my favorite thing to do there was the 30 minute circuit. If you have never been to Planet Fitness and don’t know what I am talking about, this circuit includes 20 stations: 10 machines and 10 stepping blocks. When the green light comes on you do at least 12 reps on your machine or continue for the full 60 seconds until the red light comes on. Then you rotate to a stepping block for 60 seconds and so on and so forth. There is a one minute resting period between each green light. I would always tell myself, “You can do anything for 60 seconds.” So I did. I would push myself for 60 seconds and then have a break. I know that paying off your debt will take longer than 60 seconds but YOU CAN DO IT! You are pushing yourself hard now so that you can be healthy for your future. Remember, it’s only for a season.
Step 10: Make It Automatic
Now that you’re maximizing your payments toward the debt you’ve prioritized, make sure it happens by automating your payments. Set up an automatic transfer in your designated amount from your checking account or your savings account to that debt each month, and it will be well on its way to disappearing!
Step 11: Track Your Progress
Update every bit of progress you make on the debt spreadsheet you created a few weeks ago. Keep your spreadsheet in a visible place so you can quickly and frequently track your progress.
Watching those numbers shrink will give you the motivation you need to work harder and make it all happen quicker. Just imagine; one day, you won’t owe anyone a single dollar!
Tracking your progress is so important for any endeavor. When you get frustrated or feel like you are getting no where just look back to where you started. In the past three years I have lost 80 pounds and you better believe I tracked that progress. I took before pictures, pictures 3 and 6 months in, and pictures after a year. I knew I was changing and losing weight. My clothes were too big and I felt like a different person but nothing hits me harder than looking back at where I started to where I am today. Looking back can either make me mad that I ever ‘let’ myself get in that position in the first place or I can let it be a celebration for the hard work and lifestyle changes I have made.
Step 12: CELEBRATE!
Is your debt shrinking? Have you gotten rid of one of your outstanding loans or lines of credit? Well, then it’s time to celebrate!
Don’t beat yourself up for the debt you are in just work hard to change it. Celebrate the victories (not by spending more money) and make note of where you started and where you are 3 months, 6 months, and a year later. If it takes longer than that, so what! Keep going. Keep striving to be the healthiest you can be.
Take the time to celebrate every small goal you’ve reached on your journey toward paying down debt. You don’t need to spend much to celebrate an achievement; find inexpensive or even cost-free ways to reward yourself.
Celebrate big. You deserve it!