Obsessed with Paying off Debt?

For every person who has made a commitment to get themselves out of the vicious cycle of paying off debt and vows to become debt-free, there comes a point in time when you realize you are obsessed with paying off debt.

You calculate your total debt and are probably shocked by the number. You then crunch numbers repeatedly to see how fast you can pay it off. You start to imagine all the things you can cut from your life so you can contribute more toward paying off debt. When you can’t cut anything else from your budget, you start to figure out ways to make more money so you can contribute more toward debt. You probably even begin selling stuff you own for a fraction of the cost at what you bought it for.

Perhaps at one point during this paying down the debt plan, you run into a small emergency, maybe an unexpected car repair. The fact that this derails your debt repayment for the month is too much for you to handle. It drives you nuts.

You end up at the grocery store, vowing to eat packs of 10 cent Ramen for the rest of the month in order to stick to your debt repayment plan. It’s at this point that everyone realizes you’re obsessed with paying off debt and you’ve officially lost it.

Many personal finance blogs and even news stories focus on the sensational stories of people paying off crazy amounts of debt in a limited amount of time. These people become the envy of others who have tried and failed to pay off debt as fast as possible. Comparing yourself to them can you make you feel deflated and make you question whether you’ll ever be able to pay off debt.

I know that many personal finance experts extol the virtues of being “gazelle-intense” when it comes to paying off debt, but even gazelles get tired. It can become incredible easy to lose sight of the goal when it feels like no matter what you do, the finish line remains really far away. You can get financial advice here.

With anything in life, it’s important to find a good balance. When you become fixated on accomplishing a certain goal, whether it be paying off debt, losing weight, or saving for a vacation, it can be easy to obsess over reaching the goal.

However, creating small goals within one large goal can become the stepping stones you need to climb the proverbial mountain of debt. Instead of focusing simply on the finish line, write out a few small goals that you can meet that will ensure you stay on track. For example, perhaps you normally spend $1,000 on Christmas gifts. Try and cut it back this year by half—find gifts on sale, do a gift exchange or make some gifts instead of buying them.

Perhaps one month, something unexpected happens. It can either derail you or you can recognize it for what it is—a minor setback, not the end all be all when it comes to debt repayment.