How We Stay Motivated While Paying Off Debt

 

The hardest part of paying off debt is staying motivated while doing it. All of us debt-free wannabes start off with our heads full of dreams of being debt-free, the amount of money we will be saving, and how awesome our future is going to be. These thoughts alone keep us going for a while but eventually, the steam is gone. That moment when you start to lose momentum and feel like you will never get out of debt is the exact moment that you must dig deeper and find a reason to stay the course. Paying off debt is not easy but it is doable with a little grit and determination. We have struggled many times over the course of this year to continue but we have found that these things kept us going.

1.) Debt Binder: You can find all the details here.

2.) List of reasons why we want out of debt: When we first began this journey, we discussed our dream life and wrote out a list of why we wanted to get out of debt. We included everything, even the stuff that may seem mundane and silly to others. This list was not for anybody but us. We had the big stuff like having more choices, not struggling to pay our bills each month, being able to travel more, and being able to be charitable. We had the little stuff like not having to remember to pay so many people each month. The biggest thing at the top of this list was a feeling. We wanted to feel less stressed out all the time and more content in our daily life. It is hard to feel like that when you are being crushed by so much debt.

3.) Planning for our future: It is so much easier to save money and work hard when you are looking forward to something. We are leaving to travel long-term in 2020. We have been discussing where we want to go and what type of things we want to do when we get there. Cooking rice and stir-fried vegetables for dinner when you really want to go out for sushi is easier when daydreaming about visiting Japan.

4.) Reading Blogs and Watching Vlogs: I have read so many blogs and watched so many vlogs about saving money, paying off debt, and being debt-free during this year. I have also read/watched a lot of things about minimalism and mindful living. It all goes hand in hand.

5.) Talking/Blogging about it: Talking about it helps keep us going. We talk to each other about it. We talk to friends and family about it. It makes a difference to celebrate with the people we care about. A high five goes a long way. Blogging has helped me immensely with staying motivated while on this journey. If I’m tempted to mess up, I remember that I will have to confess that to all of you. I love hearing from readers that we have inspired them in some way. That was the entire reason that I chose to blog about this portion of our journey.

How do you keep motivated while working on big goals?

Our Debt-Free Binder

Our debt binder has been instrumental in our debt payoff mission. I believe it would be helpful to anybody on this same journey.

I began with a plain 1′ binder in a color I found nice. You could make a cover for it if you desire. I preferred to leave mine plain without any label or cover. When it is sitting on the counter, nobody can tell what is in it.

The first page of our binder is our priority list. When we first set it up, we put it behind the printouts. I found that I was flipping back to look at it so often that I moved it to the front. We agreed to work on our financial goals in a certain order. We chose an order that made the most sense with our long-term goals. That is followed by a full list of all of our debts and the exact amount we owed on them when we started. We cross these off after they are paid off.

The printables I used for my credit cards, student loans, and overall debt payoff were from www.debtfreecharts.com and they are free to use. I printed out the needed charts. I filled out the charts with our numbers. I wrote what the paper was for on the top of it. I took the total amount owed on each account and divided them by the number of lines on the chart. Then I filled in the lines on the side of the chart starting with $0 at the bottom and adding the numbers going up to the current total amount of that debt at the top. I placed them in the binder in order based on our priority list.

As we pay down our debt, I use a highlighter to color in what we pay off. I really enjoy filling them in. This has also been helpful with our kids. They understand what we are trying to do when they can see it. It has become a celebration every time we get to color in a line.

After all of our printables are the monthly check-ins. On the first of each month, I write out a list of all our current debts and our total. I love to compare the original with the new ones. This has become a part of my monthly budget schedule that I look forward to. I used to hate budgeting and dealing with money because there never seemed to be enough of it. After almost a year, I’m proud to say that budgeting and paying our bills is easy now. If you are at the beginning of your debt-free journey, it does get better. There will come a day that you can do your monthly budget in minutes without any trouble.

This debt binder was extremely helpful. I hope it helps you on your path to becoming debt-free. Don’t underestimate the power of coloring in the lines. If/When you have a setback, you can flip back through to see how far you have come. That mind shift is life changing.

November Goals

November Goals

  • $1500 on credit card #9
  • Christmas Shopping
  • Isabella’s Birthday
  • Continue Decluttering

Credit card #9 has a current balance of $3,362.55. It is our card with the highest balance. We changed the order slightly because the last one (Wow! Last one!) has 0% interest until July 2019. This way we pay less interest. We want to pay this one off completely before the end of the year. We plan to pay at least $1500 on it this month but if we can pay more we will. I wanted to set the bar really high after last month but we will be doing our Christmas shopping too.

We want to finish most of our Christmas shopping this month so that next month we can just enjoy all the festivities. I will be ordering most gifts online. Shopping early gives it time to get here and be returned if need be. Our Christmas budget is $1,000. This includes everything from gifts to wrapping paper to Christmas dresses.

Isabella’s birthday is in December. I want to book her party, choose a theme, send out invitations, buy supplies for gift bags, and order her cake. I need to buy her a present too.

We are continuing our mission to declutter our possessions. I plan to work on my bedroom and my closet this month. I went through my clothing when we first began this journey at the beginning of this year. My husband needs to go through his and I want to go back through my stuff. We still have way too much stuff. We are seriously considering packing up a lot of the stuff that we are on the fence about keeping, kind-of a mini packing party. There is a ton of stuff that we are unsure of. I think this would really help us to narrow down and get rid of more of the excess in our home. I’ll let you know how it goes at the end of the month.

What goals are you working on this month? Share with me below.

 

October End of Month Review

October Goals

  • Pay off Credit Card #8
  • Save Money and Just Survive
  • Research the Best Time of Year to Visit Our Top Locations
  • Continue Decluttering
  • List Some Stuff for Sale on Facebook
  • Start a List of Christmas/Birthday Presents

We started off the month owing $2,527.43 on credit card #8. I didn’t think there was any possible way that we could pay it off in one month. A year ago we wouldn’t have stood a chance. This month was a game changer for us. This month was the moment that we figured out not only how far we have come but also far we can go. We crushed this goal. We completely paid off every cent and it wasn’t even that hard. It was difficult, yes, but not the way that trying to come up with a large sum of money used to be hard. This was the month that we found out how much this year has changed us. We have been training ourselves to do hard things without even realizing it. We worked hard to save enough money and we did manage to survive.

We put the list of places we want to visit in order of importance and then looked up the best times of the year to visit our top picks. I looked at the weather, prices, amount of tourists, and any holidays that could impact our trip. My husband and I discussed the pros and cons of all this information. We decided on what times would be best and which times we should avoid for our top locations. We wanted to have this information on standby to help us to make better choices in the future.

We have slowly continued our decluttering. We went through Isabella’s and Octavia’s summer clothes as we packed them up. We only saved things for next year that would fit and were in good shape. We went through their winter clothing as we unpacked it. We also went through all of their year-round clothing like layering tanks and tees. We went through the rest of their room too. They got rid of another bag of toys and stuffed animals. We have been decluttering in layers. Each time we go back through we find a few more things to get rid of. I am considering doing another huge sweep of decluttering throughout our entire house.

So…I didn’t list a single thing for sale on Facebook. I meant to but never did. Maybe I’ll do better in November. I did get together a few boxes of stuff that I would like to sell, mostly DVDs and books. We plan to have a few yard sales before we leave. Anything of value that we don’t sell online will end up being put into a small storage room in our basement that we have set aside for this stuff. We will likely be adding clothing and toys to that room as we continue to declutter before leaving. I am still astounded at the thought of living out of suitcases in a couple years. Our family of five only having what we can take with us and a small storage bin for sentimental items is such a crazy thought.

I did start a list of ideas for Christmas/birthday gifts. I think I have figured out gifts for the girls. We have set our Christmas budget. It is much lower than what we normally spend. I’ll try to do a full post explaining all of it when it gets closer to Christmas. Michael and I decided to skip holiday & anniversary gifts for each other so we can apply more money towards paying off our credit cards. We know that paying off our debt sooner is more important than spending more on the holidays.

How did your October go? Did you meet any of your goals? Are you working on anything big or even little right now? Please share with us in the comments! Also, if you have any tips for selling stuff on Facebook, I would love to hear all about it!

Perfect Fall Day at Farm Haven in Union, KY

Spending a day at the farm is one of those obligatory fall things that we all do every year. Farm Haven in Union, Kentucky is one of our all-time favorite farms. We have gone a few times over the last few years. When we started talking about which farm to visit this year, my kids wanted to go to Farm Haven again.

There is a little building next to the barn where you pay for your admission, buy pumpkins, snacks, and drinks. We went through the corn labyrinth first. It has a wide path that is easy to walk with little kids. There were a few holes and bumps in the ground but it wasn’t bad. There were sunflowers and other flowers around the opening. There were butterflies flying around them. There is a corn maze too. It is bumpier and harder to walk through. We chose to skip the full maze this year.

While in the corn labyrinth, Ivy found a caterpillar. The girls had fun checking it out. We also found a few spare pumpkins growing in the corn. There were cute scarecrows scattered throughout. I’m originally from Indiana and feel oddly comforted being surrounded with corn so I was a big fan of the labyrinth. Octavia seemed to really enjoy herself too. She is two. It is so fun to see the world so fresh and new through her. She was so amused by the fact that there was corn on the stalks.

Our next stop was the barn. Inside the barn, there is a play area made of straw that the kids can crawl through. Isabella and Octavia went through a couple times. There is also a petting/viewing zoo in here too. It’s not very big but it is cute. There were two full sized goats, two baby goats, two kittens, and a donkey that bites (there is a sign). The man working there got the baby goats out so the kids could pet them. They were so cute. The girls bought some food and fed the goats. Isabella thought they were hilarious. Octavia was terrified that they would bite her. She watched Isabella and I feed them instead.

We picked out corn before getting on the hayride. They take you to the back fields to feed the cows. They don’t normally feed them corn so they are very excited to see the hayrides. The cows came running. Octavia is obsessed with cows currently and squealed with delight to see them running toward us. However, she was a little afraid when she realized how big they were. She still helped me feed them.

Once the food was gone, the cows started to walk away. The hayride continues around to a side road and circles around the farmhouse. The girls loved going past the chicken coop. The hayride is one of our favorite parts of this place.

Our other favorite part was up next. They have a hay bale playground behind the barn. It has a little maze that the kids can run through. They can also climb on the hay bales and run across the top of them. Isabella loves it. A few years ago, she was really afraid to run or jump on top of them. Over the past couple of years, she has started to really enjoy it. This year she had a blast running around with the other kids.

We picked out three little pumpkins to take home and paid for them. We walked over to look at the small log cabin before leaving. The weather was really weird that day. It started off a little chilly and then got really warm. I’m glad that we dressed in layers. While we were at the cabin the rain that had been threatening to fall all day finally came. We did a little photo shoot on the porch of the log cabin while we waited for the rain to pass. It resulted in some great pictures. I’ve included my favorites below if you are interested.

Happy Travels!