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The emotional side of debt repayment

By 4th May 2019 No Comments

Dealing with debt is now very much a mainstream issue, which has its pros and cons.  The pro is that there is now a substantial body of high-quality and relevant content available online to help people address their debt issue.  The con is that there is also a substantial body of low-quality and misleading content available online, which could end up doing more harm than good.  Interestingly, however, regardless of its quality, content relating to debt-management issues generally tends to focus (almost) exclusively on the practicalities of the situation.  While this is actually very understandable, it’s also worth noting that debt management can also be a very emotional issue and that recognising and dealing with these emotions can be crucial to the overall debt-management process.

Debt management is a journey, often a long one

While it is, undoubtedly a cliché to say that the journey can be more important than the destination, like many cliché’s it’s based on truth.  You can arrive at the most beautiful destination in the world and not be in a fit state to enjoy it because of the horrendous experience you’ve had getting there, in fact, you may even decide just to turn around and head right back the way you came.  By contrast, even if you are arriving at an uninspiring destination, you could still see the best in it if you’re rested and refreshed after a great journey.

Pacing yourself is key

If you have a very low level of debt and you understand how you came to be in debt in the first place and have, if necessary, taken steps to address the root cause(s) of your debt problem, then you may be able to get yourself out of debt through a financial “crash diet”.  Such a severe approach, however, is very unlikely to succeed over the long term, in fact it may even put you off addressing your debt at all.  Basically, you might be able to live off beans on toast for every meal for a week, maybe even a month, but if you try to do it for much longer, the chances are that you’re going to wind up giving up in despair (and depression) and heading back to the bad habits which led you to this situation in the first place.

Turn dealing with debt into a game

Dealing with debt is probably going to involve some lifestyle changes, maybe some major ones.  Instead of focusing on everything you are giving up, focus on determining what it was you enjoyed about your lifestyle and try to replicate that at a lower cost.  For example, instead of paying for gym membership, you could exercise at home and invite your gym buddies round for a low-cost social evening, or you could switch gym membership for an activity which was lower-cost but still sociable such as a running club or cycling club.  Treat dealing with debt as a fun challenge or even a game and look for the positives.  If you really do have to give up something you’d rather keep, then do what you feel is right to hold onto the memories it evokes, such as by taking photographs of it.  These days, even the most basic smartphones have at least decent cameras and free photo-editing software can make the pictures they take look really good.

Celebrate small wins

Following on from the previous point, make time to celebrate the small wins which will help you to reach your overall goal.  For example, instead of waiting until you are completely debt free, celebrate clearing the balance on a credit card or, if even that is a major challenge, celebrate every time you bring the balance down by a certain amount.

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