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How to Make Paying Off Debt Fun

How to pay off debt and have fun

It’s crazy to think that we’ve been debt-free for 7 months or so.  I remember thinking this shit was impossible.

We didn’t have much of a community around us when we were paying off our debt, we just kinda quietly did it.

Anyone who we did tell, looked at us like we had 10 heads, because… YOLO, right?

So, we blindly hammered away at that $109,000.  Month by month, we forged ahead.  We didn’t do it all the “right way”, we made mistakes, and I’m sure we missed some opportunities.

Thankfully, we did a few things right, and kept ourselves motivated.  Without that motivation, we certainly would have given up and just kept going about our “normal” lives.

Maybe you’re finding yourself in a similar situation, the debt seems insurmountable.  The time it’s going to take to purge yourself of the financial parasite will be too long.

I’m not going to sit here and lie to you, I don’t have some kinda secret to make achieving debt-freedom “fast and easy”.  It kinda sucks…  With that being said, it’s a necessary thing and you can do it without feeling miserable along the way!

I realize that my motivational speech collapsed on me there at the end, stick with me… I think I can recover.

Don’t Be a Debt Psycho

Have you ever tried to lose weight?  You walked into the gym on day 1 with dreams of a six pack.  You hit every machine, jumped on the treadmill and busted your ass.  Walking out of the gym covered in sweat, you felt great, and label day 1 a massive success!

weak cartoon

The next morning comes and you feel like someone beat the shit out of you with a pillow case filled with bars of soap.

You can’t move… and your face hurts for some weird reason…  What the fuck happened?!

You don’t ever go to the gym again because, well… it’s obviously cursed and you’re not looking for that kind of pain again.

Starting your debt-free journey is crazy similar.  Instead of dreaming of a six pack, you dream about being debt-free.  Life will be so much easier then, and I need to get there as fast as fucking possible.

Crank up the Dave Ramsey podcast, drink the guru Kool-Aide, and get all fired up.

Hell yes, I can wear the same undies for 3 years!  I can totally change who I am overnight and stick with it!

Fast forward a month and you’re sick of living on rice and garbanzo beans.  You say fuck this, order some take out, and buy some new shit off Amazon because you deserve it.  YOLO fueled rationalization!  Hooray!

The gurus are great for some injectable motivation, but this game isn’t all about motivation.  What sucks about motivation is that it’s fleeting, some days it’s high, other days it’s low.  The real MVP is discipline. <— Must Watch!!!

Having the intestinal fortitude to push through the days you lack motivation will be your key to success, or failure.

Pick Your Debt Intensity Level

Woman working on a computer

When you begin your debt-free journey, take some time to figure out exactly how long it’ll take to reach debt freedom.

Do the math, or use a handy mortgage calculator to figure out how long it’ll take to get out of debt with different levels of intensity.

When using the linked calculator, punch in your balance, interest rate, and the different amounts you plan to pay.

This will pop out a nice amortization sheet to show you exactly how long it’ll take to reach glorious freedom.

For example… Perhaps, you can go crazy intense and budget an extra $1,000 a month toward debt.  This $1,000 is really strapping you, but you can do it with a lot of discipline.

On this plan, it’ll take you 36 months to get out of debt.

Or, you can budget $800 extra toward your debt.  This plan gives you some wiggle room, and adds 6 to 8 months to your debt-free journey.

Not bad, right?  Remember, debt free is debt free… no matter how long it takes to get there.

Which plan is right?  That’s up to you, but you should consider how long you can tolerate the lifestyle required to get out of debt at the pace you’ve selected.

I would suggest you start slowish and work toward intensity.  Give your brain some time to get used to this new lifestyle.

Will it add some time on to your journey?  Sure, but that shouldn’t matter… because if you start outta the gates too hot, and quit… you’ll never be debt-free.

 Quick and Easy Debt-Freedom

meditation

Is there a quick and easy way to do this?  Simple answer… No.  Don’t get all salty and lose hope though, you can make it less shitty.

A general rule in hillbilly math says that “less shitty” is better than “shitty”, and the worst is called “real shitty”.

Now that we have that out of the way, it’s time to figure out how to tackle this bitch.

There are a few popular debt payment methods.  The snowball or the avalanche would be my recommendation.  Neither is overly complicated and both have pros and cons.

You’re either starting with the lowest balance (snowball), or the highest interest rate (avalanche) and then working up the balance list, or down the interest rates.  Neither is perfect by itself, but maybe a mixture of the two is the ticket?

Depending on your debt balance and your income, this might take a while… and that’s totally OK!

If I started over, I’d probably start with my two lowest balances.  Pay them off, get that sense of satisfaction and then target my highest interest rates.

You’re going to get a taste of victory and not lose a ton of money toward interest.

Everyone’s debt situation is different, if you’re lucky, your lowest balance will have your highest interest rate.  Wouldn’t that be peachy?

Do I Really Have To Eat Beans and Rice?

Child sitting alone

Holy shit, I hate that saying.  It makes this process seem fucking worse than it needs to be.

No, you don’t have to eat rice and beans.  You don’t have to sell all of your shit, and you don’t have deliver pizzas if you don’t want to.

Will doing those things speed up the process?  Absolutely, but you don’t have to do it to be successful.  Success in this game is getting out of debt, you don’t get bonus points for doing it faster than someone else.

The intensity advice sells books.  It doesn’t guarantee any level of long term success.

You abso-freaking-lutely don’t have to magically turn into some financial powerhouse overnight.  Lifestyle changes are definitely required, but there isn’t a time frame on your story.

Small progress is still progress.  Start by switching from the big-box store to a less expensive spot for groceries.  Find a cheaper cell carrier, a cheaper cell plan, cancel cable, or shop around for new car insurance.

Explore pain-free methods to find some extra cash.

Start slow and make some positive financial changes.  Maybe you go out to eat every Friday, cut it back to every other week.

Going out to eat with your partner might be the one thing that helps you keep your shit together.  Don’t live a life of deprivation because some guru said it was the “right” thing.

Celebrate, Baby… Celebrate!

Elvis Dancing

Who doesn’t love a good celebration?  I’ll celebrate anything, birthdays, my dog not pooping in the basement, mowing the grass faster than last week… I love to feel good!

It’s probably not hard to believe, but celebrating will have a big part in your long-term success.

I don’t believe the only goal here is debt-freedom.  There are many, many goals along the way.

Sit down and write out your debts and your goals.  Is the first extra payment a cause of celebration?  Why not??  Pop the bubbly!

Make a detailed list of your goals and how you’ll celebrate each one.  Now, I should put a disclaimer here… Don’t go further into debt to celebrate, don’t get all saucy on me.

Bigger goals warrant bigger celebrations.

We celebrated in a lot of different ways.  Sushi to celebrate paying off a debt, or the big one… a trip to Disney which occurred after we were totally debt-free.

Each celebration, no matter the size helped keep us motivated and focused.  Celebrating also made the process seem less shitty.  Remember… Less shitty is actually a good thing!

Looking at $109,000 would have been disgusting… I mean, it was disgusting… but we didn’t look at the total picture.

It doesn’t matter how much debt you have, or how long you think it’ll take to pay it off.  Break it up, and have some fun along the way.

Life shouldn’t be all about looking at the future.  Enjoy the process a bit, and get some damn sushi if you want some sushi.

Final Thoughts

Listen, getting out of debt is a fucking awesome goal.  It’s a life changing event, and it’s one of the few times that I can say the grass is actually greener on the debt-free side of the fence.

You’ll get there if you stay the course and don’t give up.

Don’t make your debt-free journey fucking miserable by trying to maintain some kinda guru inspired blistering pace.

Like an old man easing into a hot bath, debt-freedom isn’t about blindly cannon balling into the financial deep end.  Ease in, let those money muscles loosen up a bit.

After all, it was probably decade’s worth of poor financial practice that landed you here, don’t expect to change that shit over-night.  Don’t set yourself up for failure by putting an unrealistic plan in place.

How’s your debt-free journey going?  Comment below!

14 Comments

  1. Awesome post and so true! If you go at it too hard you could get burned out. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

  2. Awesome adivce! I agree, it is too easy to give up when you try to do too much too fast. Congratulations on getting to debt-free in the best way for your family!

  3. We paid down debt on a relatively low income (under $40,000 for two people) so it was a huge slog. There were many fights about money as my husband took a while to grasp some of the finer concepts of “Stop spending so much!” He eventually came around though, and we did our best to celebrate each time we hit a milestone. Or made any progress, really. Though by “celebrate” I mainly mean we just patted ourselves on the back.

    Glad more people are out there advocating that you don’t have to eat rice and beans to be frugal and pay down debt. Or get a second job (though yes, that’s handy in the debt repayment process).

    • debtandcupcakes

      October 15, 2018 at 3:48 pm

      Congrats on paying down your debt! Celebrating isn’t always about spending money. Patting each other on the back, or showing appreciation for each other goes a looooong way. Probably further than any purchase you can make. Awesome work!

  4. Another great read! In my debt repayment plan, my goal is padded by at least one additional year. For emergency reasons and just to include fun from any burnout. I know I can’t always throw every penny I make at my loans, but if I don’t have a full need for it that month, why not add it to minus some numbers.

  5. It never fails that whenever I read a post on paying down debt, I question our choice on financial optimization.
    I’d love to get rid of our mortgage, but we have 85k left at 2.875% on a 15 year – the tax advantages of maxing the pre tax buckets continues to bitch slap me.

    • debtandcupcakes

      October 15, 2018 at 8:18 pm

      What’s best for you is all that matters. We aren’t attacking our mortgage because the rate is low, well low for us! 2.875 is crazy low! As long as you’re happy, and on track… You’re winning!

  6. Awesome post. You drew me into your story. Gym analogy is just too good. I am still working on becoming debt free but networth is close to zero. While I am a leverage kind of person, I found valuable information in your post. I pinned your beautiful image too. Stay awesome.

  7. We are 35000.00 away from debt freedom. July 2019. And I’m hitting a wall! All I want to do is spend cash!!! However, I want this freedom more than I need a new couch so onward we go but I am starting to hate putting every extra dollar to debt. We’ve decided to plan on attending a festival, concert, or big event monthly as this will give us something to look forward to each month until we reach July… it’s the only way I can keep at it as we started this journey 3 years ago. Thanks for a good, quick read and reminding me that this is our journey and it’s the right one for us.

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