How to Deal With Debt Fatigue

When a person is overwhelmed with a large amount of debt, the thought of continuing on with a debt payoff goal is, at times, nearly unfathomable. This, my friends, is called debt fatigue. Most people working toward a debt payoff goal or any other goal toward financial success have to deal with battling debt fatigue at some time or another, so if you’re in the throes of dealing with debt fatigue and are feeling like giving up on your goal of being debt free, don’t despair. It happens to the best of us. We’ve been on our journey toward debt freedom now for nearly 2.5 years. I can’t count the number of times that one or the other of us have wanted to give up. Last summer, after a particularly hard month, I pretty much spent a month with a proverbial pillow over my head. I just couldn’t go on. It was too hard. The work of paying off debt was too hard. Dealing with discouragement was too hard. Not buying the things we wanted to buy was just too hard, and I wanted to quit.ย  I didn’t, though, and so we continue on, trudging our way through each debt, knowing that the end result of debt freedom will be worth the trip.

Are you dealing with debt fatigue? Is the thought of starting – or continuing – on your debt payoff journey too much to bear? If so, take heart.

Here are some tips that can help you as you work to push aside fatigue and discouragement and encourage yourself to stay on track with your financial goals.

1. Adopt the one-bite-at-a-time mentality. There is a reason the snowball method is so successful when it comes to paying off debt. By breaking down your debt into bite-sized chunks, and putting all of your effort toward one debt at a time, you have a better chance of succeeding as a whole with your debt payoff goals. Whether it’s the debt snowball, the avalanche or whatever other method you use, implement the one-bite-at-a-time mentality to help you put concentrated efforts toward your debt payoff goals.

2. Live in denial. Well, sort of in denial. What I mean by this is to temporarily push aside your fears and thoughts about all of your debt except for the one debt you’re currently working on paying off. Pretend the other debts don’t exist, just for a bit, and focus on the smaller bite of the current debt you’re working on paying off. Sometimes focusing on the whole debt picture is just too overwhelming and causes people to think “I’ll never get this debt paid off.” By pretending that the other debt doesn’t exist for a time so you can focus on one debt, you can better bask in victory and encourage yourself as you watch that one debt balance diminish. Then, when it’s paid off, you can transfer your focus to another debt.

3. Think positive. It’s so tempting when working on a long-term goal to get caught up in discouragement and hopelessness and feel like you are facing an impossible situation. However, it’s important to remember as you work to pay off your debt that every penny of debt that you pay off is a victory, and should be celebrated as such. If you have $100 less in debt than you had last month, that’s a victory! It may not be the victory that you want, but it’s something, and moving forward – even moving forward slowly – is better than not moving at all or going backwards. Be proud of every step you make toward debt payoff, no matter how minimal it might seem at the time.

4. Realize that every journey toward victory has setbacks. Every journey toward a victory or goal has its ups and downs. Setbacks and rejections are a part of life, but there are good ways to deal with rejections and setbacks. Walt Disney was rejected by over 300 bankers before somebody gave him a loan for his first Walt Disney theme park. Looking at the worldwide success of Disney theme parks today, that seems ludicrous! But back then, in the real world, I’m sure his idea looked like nothing but a massive risk with little chance of success. Maybe your debt payoff dream looks like it has little chance of success too, because of setbacks you’re experiencing or the enormity of the goal you’re looking to achieve. Every big dream, however, has setbacks. In a debt payoff journey, things happen. Expenses come up, jobs are lost, budget busts happen. When you experience a setback along the road to debt freedom, don’t give up. Simply get back on your horse and continue on the journey, rejoicing in every step forward and every move to continue on.

My dear friends, you got this. Don’t let any person or any circumstance tell you that you can’t achieve debt freedom. With continued financial education, effort and commitment, you can indeed enjoy the debt free life you’ve always dreamed of.


*Photo courtesy of Got Credit

14 comments on “How to Deal With Debt Fatigue

  1. I also recommend celebrating intermediate milestones. If you have a $10,000 debt to pay off, maybe you celebrate at every $1,000 paid off, for example. I have also recently implemented a visual representation of my debt (my practically now-infamous penny scale) and it also made me feel much more positive and in control of my debt. Good luck to those who are feeling a little blah or a lot down. Chin up!

    1. Smart tips, Kirsten – thank you so much for sharing! I know the visual reminders have worked well for us. It helps you to actually see the progress every day. Otherwise it’s easy to forget you’ve gone anywhere!

  2. I love #1 for I think a lot of people in the beginning try to really do more than they can handle. I found that making small adjustments slowly that doesn’t throw you off balance dramatically in your life helps. It’s just easier to stay on track and be motivated.

  3. This list is encouraging to me also, as some one whose only debt is our mortgage but our goal is to bump up savings radically. Sometimes it seems as if the goal is way out of reach and we will never get there, so I really appreciate these points from that perspective. I think it will also help to be grateful for how far we have come instead of worrying over how far we have to go. Thanks!

    1. Becky, I can tell by your attitude that you guys WILL get there! Keep up the great work, and don’t forget to let us know when you’ve reached your goal! We can’t wait to celebrate with you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Celebrate the small victories and milestones too. Every $500 or $1K what every amount helps keep you motivated. I always keep my eye on the end game. What would my life be like if I was debt free. It was enough of a carrot to keep me going even during rough days.

  5. I remember those days. Just getting stress sick from it all. I wish I’d had wonderful resources like Fruclassity back then. You ladies are doing a wonderful service, helping a LOT of people out of the quicksand of debt. You should sleep well knowing that. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks so much, Kay. That’s our goal. We both know what it’s like to struggle with debt and want to help others free themselves from the burden.

  6. Another great piece of advice is to look back at your progress. Sometimes when you’re so focused on your end goal you forget to celebrate all of the amazing things you’ve already accomplished. Take some time to look back and it will motivate you to continue on your journey.

    1. Agreed, Dane! Sometimes we get so caught up on how far we’ve yet to go that we forget how far we’ve come! Great comment.

  7. I would like to get to a point where I take setbacks in stride. I remember in our first year of debt repayment, my husband’s business was so slow for two months that we could put nothing against our debt at all. I lost sleep, and I felt it way too severely. I think that an emotional steadiness develops as we keep on keeping on, whether progress is great or not happening at all – and that steadiness is an antidote to the emotional drain that can cause debt fatigue.

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