Finances

What Keeps You Motivated

If you’re working away at paying off debt or saving for something large like a house or car, what keeps you motivated to achieve your goal?

We’ve been working hard at paying off our mortgage for the past three years now. Overall, we’ve stayed focused and committed. It’s one thing that we feel the Lord has clearly asked us to do and so we’ve been striving towards that finish line. 

Life happens, distractions and expenses hit and it’s easy to get sidelined. For example, a year after we started, our car had three major repairs within a couple months for approximately $400 each time. We weren’t anticipating it and didn’t have that much planned in our budget. 

Our car finally got to the point a year later when the repairs were more than the car was worth. So, we sold it to the mechanic for scrap and have gone without. Thankfully we have a work vehicle we can use so we aren’t completely without, and our family has been generous with lending us theirs when needed. 

I’ve also lost my job, have paid for needed home renovations to save on heat loss, and had medical expenses. 

But that’s the normal ebbs and flows of life. We’ve also had amazing moments when we’ve had extra income and bonuses. We’ve found creative ways to save money with our utility usage, groceries, hair cutting, and so on. 

We’ve run with it and dumped what extra we could on the mortgage in the high times and done what we could in the low. 

When watching the “Debt Free Screams” on Youtube, Dave Ramsey typically asks the interviewee what they found “the secret is to getting out of debt”? Many of them have said these answers:

Discipline
Commitment
Sacrifice
Saying “No” to things and people
Doing and sticking to a budget
Have a purpose or goal
Accountability
Communication

Delayed gratification can be a tough thing, especially when it takes years to work towards our goals. All of the things the people mentioned are really important and key to obtaining success. If you want something bad enough, discipline and commitment will help. But having accountability and something to show you your progress are also important. 

Michael and I talk about all of our finances. We know what each other is purchasing and why. We sit down, go through our bank accounts and review our budget every month together. Some months are fun while others can get a little heated. The point is that we do it together and communicate about it. There’s no hiding which is huge!

Secrecy in finances with your spouse is a catalyst for disaster. If you’re single, it can be even easier to spend your money and hide stuff from your accountability partner. Be open and honest, even if you spend more than you had planned. Everyone falls off the bandwagon at times. Honesty helps you to get back up and keep going without potentially falling as much next time. 

Find something to keep the incentive going. Michael and I talk about dreams and goals we have when the debt is paid off. We set little rewards for ourselves when we’ve paid off a special milestone number, like when we reached just under $50,000. We have a chart we colour in each time we pay off another $1,000.

To be honest, I think the hardest thing to do in all of the points listed above is saying “no” to people and things. It’s so easy to think, well it’s only $40.00. We can afford that. But each little outing builds up quickly. If you’re a very social person, make sure to allocate a certain amount each month towards an allowance for yourself, or as Dave likes to call it, a “commission”. Another option would be to have a fun or personal line in your budget that applies to eating out, events, etc. Remember though, the more you put into that, the less you put onto your debt. 

It’s actually quite surprising how quickly you can pay off your debt if you stay disciplined, committed, and persevere through. It’s worth the sacrifice you might have to temporarily make for a few months or years to achieve a lifetime of freedom. 

We never thought a few years ago that we’d be as far as we are towards our debt-free journey. We’ve set up a good support team, watched countless “Debt Free Screams”, and said no to a lot of stuff. But this journey has totally been worth it because it’s not just about paying off some debt, it’s about learning a life of discipline, financial health, and generosity. We’ve worked as a team and built a way stronger marriage than we would have. Working towards something together and cheering each other on is such a valuable gift and lesson. 

So I ask you, what keeps you motivated?

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