Back in 2009, my husband and I became debt-free, except for our mortgage. Since then, I’ve regularly weighed the pros and cons of saving money vs. paying off the mortgage. Regardless of which I’m targeting, both are long-term propositions so my motivation flags every few months.
Here’s how I get back on track when that happens:
1. Study the numbers – It blows my mind to think about how much debt we’ve paid off and how much money we’ve saved in the last 10 years. I always marvel when I think about how far we have come, and it makes me realize anew that our current goals are also attainable if we stick to our plan.
2. Revisit what life used to be like – Going back in time and remembering how it felt to be buried in debt, and the hopelessness that sometimes used to overwhelm me may seem like an odd thing to do. But then I think about where we are now, and again, remember that we can do this.
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3. Envision how I will feel and what we will do when we reach our goals – Just as reliving the bad times can motivate you in the now, so can projecting yourself into the future. My big goals right now are to pay off the mortgage and take care of my children’s education. Once that’s done, I am looking forward to my dream vacation (a luxury Alaskan cruise), and maybe a timeshare in Hawaii. Thing about making those dreams come true helps motivate me to accomplish what needs to be done first.
4. Set interim goals – I’ve come to realize that one of the reasons I stayed so motivated when we were paying off debt was because it was so easy to want to pay off one debt and move on to the next one. I could see that debt snowball grow, and the balance owed go down. My current goals just don’t have the same kind of “built-in” motivation, but I can create my own by setting specific interim goals. For example, next month I am planning to cut my spending in half by shopping less – and the money I don’t spend will be put into savings.
5. Brainstorm new and creative ways to achieve your goal faster – This is the ultimate motivator. Finding new ways to boost your payoff or savings goal is exciting, and that excitement can propel you toward your goal faster than anything else. A simple Google search will turn up thousands of ideas for cutting costs and increasing income, and all you need are one or two new ideas to make a difference in your motivation.
Whatever your goal may be … good luck!