When you’re in debt it can be really hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve been in debt now for around 14 years and whilst at one point we got on with our lives, as we had good jobs and were paying off the debt, the heavy feeling of being in debt has always been there.
It’s like an unwanted and whiny voice inside our heads whispering things like, “You shouldn’t buy those jeans you know. And why are you paying for that gym membership! You can’t afford it!”
Every buying decision we’ve ever made has been affected by this little voice and its questions. Whenever we bought something we shouldn’t have, we felt guilty – and rightly so, as we should have been overpaying our debts to our creditors instead.
We had a lightbulb moment in January of this year when it dawned on us that if we don’t actively do more to get our debts paid off and really focus on doing so, we could be in this situation… forever! And with a little girl to raise, we owe it to her to clear our debts and teach her never to make the mistakes that we did.
So how to stay positive and keep overpaying debts?
It’s been six months now since we started really trying to overpay our debts. As we don’t earn that much between us, it’s been a case of scrapping around for every penny and making savings where we can. We can’t commit to second jobs because my husband works away frequently including evenings and weekends and then it’s down to me to solely care for our daughter.
Nevertheless, by keeping our situation at the forefront of our minds, we’re making the right decisions around purchasing, spending less on monthly shopping by being more organised and selling lots of things on Ebay. There may come a point where the entire contents of our house will have been disseminated to buyers on Ebay!
Since blogging about our debt, I’ve discovered that we’re not the only ones in a a shed load of debt. And reading about other people’s stories and how they’re keeping positive and paying their debt back has really helped us.
Every time, we get some spare cash, whether it be £30 or £300, we’ve been making over-payments on our credit card (see our debt ladder for our progress!). The feeling is just brilliant when making these extra payments!! Even though we’ve got such a long way to go, we can breathe a little bit easier each time.
By looking at our debt from a more positive perspective and not getting too down about it – after all, we are actively doing something about it – it’s really helped us to stay positive and keep us on track.
Setting small goals seems to help too – for me, I really want to clear one particular debt by Christmas, even though I know I will have to pay back £750 per month to achieve this. It seems impossible – almost! I say that because I’ve just overpaid £500 through scrimping and saving, the minimum payment is £100 which is due to go out shortly and now I only (!) need to find £150 by the end of July to hit this month’s target!
As well as setting small goals like this, we also have a vision of hope for the future. Once the debts are cleared, we want to overpay our mortgage and put more into savings, for our daughter and for our pension fund (which is currently in a poor state!). Ideally we want to be mortgage free! May as well aim high!
One thing we haven’t done is to give ourselves a deadline for paying back our personal debt. We haven’t calculated what the minimum term could be – it will definitely take a few years, probably more – but we don’t want to get distracted and disheartened by thinking it could take a very long time. So our small goal of paying back this particular credit card by Christmas is where we’re currently setting our sights. We will set ourselves a new goal come January!
What sort of goals do you set yourself for paying off debt or for saving money?