Paying off Debt? Follow your Own Rules

paying off debtWhen it comes to paying off debt, I’ve realized two things: it’s a long process, and you have to make your own rules. Depending on how much debt you have to begin with, it can take years to get yourself out of the red.

As a semi-personal finance blogger, I’ve read dozens of stories from other personal finance bloggers about how they’ve paid off debt and the sacrifices they’ve taken to reach that milestone. I’ve concluded a few things when it comes to how I choose to pay off my debt.

Be Your Own Financial Advisor

It’s tempting to read everyone else’s success stories and compare your own story to theirs. Perhaps they were able to pay off their debt faster than you and now you’re wondering what you’re doing wrong.

While it is extremely important to make sure you’re taking a good look at your finances and cutting out anything superfluous, if you find that you’re doing everything you can and you’re making steady accelerated payments toward your debt, then don’t beat yourself up about it simply because someone else has paid off their debt faster. Maybe they have a larger cash flow or maybe you had a couple of family emergencies that derailed your debt payment plan.

Obviously, someone who had their education paid off by their parents is at a much better financial starting point than someone who graduated with $30,000 in student loans.

In my case, my husband was unemployed for four months while he went to school. At this point, we weren’t focused on paying off debt, we were focused on paying our bills and keeping a roof over our heads! More recently, my husband got injured and had to take a month off work without pay. We still managed to contribute an extra $100 toward debt repayment for the month, but it wasn’t at the top of our list.

Getting ideas and tips from other people and finance books is great, but at the end of the day, only you know your situation. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be doing everything you can to pay off your debt, but if you’ve run into some extraordinary circumstances, it’s okay not to beat yourself up about it.

Choose what’s important to you

Some people may subscribe to the plan that you shouldn’t spend money on anything fun while you’re trying to pay off debt. I am not one of those people.

I would rather add a few months toward my debt repayment plan than to forgo life experiences, such as traveling. I’m not one to treasure things so I don’t buy a lot of clothes or items that I find superfluous. However, someone else may really get a lot of joy from a particular item. I don’t think anything should ever be completely eliminated, but rather, find a way to fit it into your budget.

If you reach certain milestones in your debt repayment plan, budget in a reward for all your hard work and sacrifices. Everyone has their own opinion of what’s important to them. Don’t let other people’s remarks determine how you choose to spend your money.

It’s okay to be jealous

At the end of the day, it’s completely okay to be jealous of everyone else’s success story. But don’t let that jealousy derail you from paying off debt. It can be way too easy to just give up because paying off debt is hard and it can take a long time to see results.

Instead, let the jealousy fuel your ambition toward paying off debt faster. Continue to look at ways to trim your budget and increase contributions toward debt repayment.

As long as you can say to yourself that you’re doing everything you can to pay off your debt as quickly as possible without compromising your morals and values, you have every right to be proud of what you’re trying to accomplish. And don’t let anyone else try and tell you otherwise.

photo by vectorportal

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Written by Erika

Erika blogs at Newlyweds on a Budget about couples managing finances, newlywed life and everything in between.


Erika blogs at Newlyweds on a Budget about couples managing finances, newlywed life and everything in between.

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