A Resolution with Results: Here’s to a Debt-Free 2019

The holidays have ended—and we’re sure that you spent more than you meant to. Starting the new year off right is always the goal, but pitfalls are unavoidable. Achieving your very own debt payoff plan requires an intense level of commitment. It’s easy to get discouraged when you realize the amount of time and sacrifice it takes to see significant results. Here are some tips you can follow to help you stick to your debt payoff plan.


Be Realistic

This is, without question, the most important tip. It’s impossible to stick to a debt plan that was never possible to begin with. If you’ve overestimated the amount you can pay or underestimated the amount of time it will take, you might want to throw in the towel. The plan you start out with may not work for your entire debt journey. Readjusting along the way will ensure you have a plan based on your changing financial situation.

Take a look at your current income and expenses to calculate the amount you can really afford to put toward your debt each month. You can — and should — pay more when you can, but create your plan based on the amount you can reliably and realistically pay each month.


Write it out

Putting your debt plan down on paper increases the likelihood of success. All you need to do is write down your debts, the due date, the minimum payment, and any additional payments.

Once you’ve got your plan in print, keep it in a place that you can reference often, adjusting as you go.


Track your progress

Your balances will go down with each payment you make toward your debt. Note that the balances on accounts receiving the minimum payment will only go down by a small amount each month. The debt that receives the larger monthly payment will go down faster.

Every so often, compare your current debt balances to your starting balance to see how much debt you’ve cleared so far. Don’t be discouraged if you’re not where you thought you would be. Instead, celebrate whatever progress you’ve made and stay committed.


Tell Somebody

A lot of people start blogs and social media pages to share their debt experiences in order to keep themselves accountable, and to join a community of other people who are also working to pay off their debts.

For example, search debt related hashtags, like “#debtjourney” or “debtfree”, on Instagram and you’ll find posts from people who are all on similar journeys.

Partnering with someone who’s also working to get out of debt will also help motivate you to stick to your debt payoff plan. It could be a friend, co-worker, spouse, or family member. You can bounce ideas off each other or support each other when you feel discouraged.


Be smart

This is a no-brainer. Continuing to use your credit cards makes your debt problem worse not better. It’s hard to adhere to your payoff plan if you see your goal being pushed further and further into the future.

Focus on living below your means and sticking to a budget so that you don’t rely on credit. If you can’t resist using your cards, hide them – or better yet, cut them up. Necessities can (and should, while you’re on your plan) be paid with cash.


Find Inspiration

The web is filled with stories from people who have paid off substantial debt, maybe even more than you’re working toward. Not only can these stories serve as a source of inspiration, they can also provide useful tips relevant to your personal experience.

Search “debt success story” or “paid off debt” to find real-life examples of people who’ve beaten the odds and learn from their achievements.


Keep your eye on the prize

Picture your life without the debt. Imagine how great it will feel to longer have the monthly payments and not have the debt. You’ll have much more control over your finances and the freedom to make some different decisions. Perhaps more importantly, think about how much you will have grown as a person having achieved something so great.

Paying off your debt deserves much more than a pat on the back. People plan celebrations for the completion of other major life events — a college graduation or job retirement. Accomplishing something as major as paying off your debt deserves some recognition. However, if you plan a celebratory party (and, if so, more power to you) don’t spend a fortune!

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