Paying off a substantial amount of debt is difficult, but certainly not impossible. With belief and commitment, you can tackle your debt and get rid of it for good. It’s all about getting into the right mindset and really wanting to be free from debt! The road to debt freedom contains plenty of ups and downs and as well as these, you might find yourself experiencing a rollercoaster ride of emotions along the way.
Every Wednesday for the next 10 weeks, I’ll be writing about some common emotions that go hand in hand with tackling your debt along with some practical advice on how to deal with them.
Stage 1: Fear
Fearing your debt can lead to a ‘fight or flight’ response depending on how you manage to cope with this feeling.
I felt this emotion for a number of years, using the ‘flight’ coping mechanism before finally facing up to my debt. Now I choose to ‘fight’. 🙂
What is fear?
“An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.” Source: Oxford Dictionaries
Ain’t that the truth. In the circumstances of facing up to your debt, fear will probably occur when you realise any or all of the following:
- You’re not sure of how much debt you’re in exactly.
- You’re in debt deeper than you thought possible.
- You can’t afford the monthly repayments.
- You start thinking that disposable income is just a rumour.
- You want to buy a house, get a new job, get married, start a family… but you can’t afford to make lifestyle changes because of the financial implications surrounding your debt.
Yep – fear relating to debt is a general worrying feeling of the unknown and ultimately the very real threat of a financially uncertain future.
How to get through the fear stage of debt payoff:
Don’t let things get worse
If you’re feeling this emotion, you probably know deep down that things are out of control in terms of your debt. If you ignore your debt now, the feeling of fear will only get more pronounced as time goes on and you dig yourself an even bigger hole to get out of. Now is the time to take action and face up to your debt. Don’t delay!
Find out the facts
One sure fire way to get through this unpleasant stage is to know what you’re up against. If you don’t know how much you owe – much like us a year ago – talk to your creditors. Write it all down: the balance; your monthly payments and the interest rate for each one. If you have the original credit agreements handy, that’s even better. Keep them all together, in a safe place.
I set up a spreadsheet detailing all our debts to include all of the above information. That way, I can lay my hands on it whenever needed and update it every month with each debt repayment.
Make a plan
Once you know the extent of your debt, you can stop yourself from getting into even more debt and make a plan to pay back what you owe. This might be by increasing your monthly payments if you can afford to or talking to your creditors to work out a reduced payment plan if you’re struggling. Tracking your spending is a good way to keep on top of your finances and highlight areas where you can save money to pay more off your debt.
Although things might seem overwhelming, you’re starting to eliminate your fear of the unknown and this really is the most important stage of the process to get through. Once you stop fearing your debt, you’ll soon be back in control again and things will be on the up!
Can you relate to this emotional stage of debt payoff?
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