11 Steps to Avoid Burnout When Paying off Debt

Jen SmithDebt, Personal Finance9 Comments

avoid burnout while paying off debt

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The key to avoiding burnout while paying off debt is to reinvigorate your motivation. Here are 11 ways you can stay motivated and energized to avoid burnout when paying off debt.

1. Work With Purpose

The first step to any journey is identifying the destination. It’s no different in becoming debt free. But debt freedom isn’t the destination. It’s an essential stop along the way, but understanding that there’s life after debt is imperative to making it out of debt and staying there.

What’s your purpose for getting out of debt? Ours is to have career and lifestyle freedom. We want to be able to quit or be let go from our jobs and have savings to hold us over until we find something else or create our own career.

When the struggle is real it’s this purpose that will grab you from your whiney tower and pull you back down to reality.

2. Use Time Management Hacks

Do you feel like you need more hours in the day? Maybe you just need better management of those hours.

There are productivity methods you can use to be more efficient and avoid burnout. I’ve been really interested in the Pomodoro method of breaking tasks into 25-minute chunks with 5-minute breaks. Lots of freelancers swear by it.

Start with the tasks you have, do those more efficiently and see if extra time to rest doesn’t pop up right when you need it.

3. Eliminate Tasks

Maybe with the best productivity hacks, you still can’t fit it all in. Between multiple jobs, family, friends, errands, keeping a semi-clean house, cooking, etc, etc, etc; you can’t do everything.

If your time is worth more working than doing simple tasks then you can afford to delegate rather than work less. You can hire someone to clean your house, have your groceries delivered, or buy the precut veggies.

Prioritize the tasks that get you closer to your goal and eliminate the ones that don’t.

4. Give

Giving time or money can feel like you’re connecting to the world even in your gazelle-intense bubble. We do it by volunteering and giving to our church but there’s no shortage of options for you to sacrifice a little to make a big difference in others lives.

I also think giving of your experience is helpful. It’s cathartic, reminds me what I’ve accomplished and helps others learn how to live through my story. You can do it through Facebook, Instagram, or by starting a blog.

I’m obviously an advocate for sharing stories through a blog. The number of people you can reach is huge. It’s also a way to pad your income and lay a foundation for establishing career freedom. You can read my how-to on starting and monetizing a blog here.

5. Exercise

I use exercise to break up the monotony of my day. When I was working three very inactive jobs exercising was the outlet where I could make the stank face I wanted to make all day and no one would ask me what was wrong.

And I don’t need to remind you of the physical benefits exercising has on improving energy, sleep, and motivation — but clearly I will.

I pay big bucks for Crossfit because the community and direction are invaluable to me. But there are plenty of ways to work out for free or cheap if it’s not as high on your priority list.

6. Celebrate Wins

Every time we pay off a loan we have a little celebration. Sometimes it’s as small as texting a ton of emojis back and forth and sometimes it’s having a meal out.

More than once my disdain for cooking has motivated me to put a little extra on a loan to clear it up and go out for dinner. Having fun times to look forward to keeps us motivated and has ultimately helped us get where we are quicker.

7. Stop Being a Perfectionist

Perfectionism is the enemy of progress. Relinquish the need to have a perfect budget, perfect income, or perfect life circumstances.

Emergencies will come up, weaknesses will win, and income may fluctuate but if you drive yourself crazy over every setback you’ll never win!

Embrace the mistakes and “Murphies” and you’ll have a much better time getting through this thing.

8. Track Progress

In our apartment we had a thermometer we’d color in when whenever we made a payment. It got lost in our recent move (RIP thermometer).

People have come up with really cool ways to visually track their debt progress. You can check them out here where I also have a downloadable thermometer pdf you can print off and color yourself!

9. Share Your Successes

I have a friend living 1200 miles away from me who texts me whenever she pays off a debt or makes a substantially good money decision. It allows me to encourage her by telling her how proud I am of her, how great she’s doing and I send lots of bitmojis.

Travis and I do this too. When we do well with money we lift each other up and encourage each other in our strengths.

Hearing from someone else that you’re doing well isn’t fishing for compliments, it’s reassurance that you’re making it! Find someone you can share with. This is really easy with a spouse but a supportive friend works just as well.

10. Keep Good Company

Having friends that are also paying off debt or are supportive of you doing it is clutch. Saying no to spending money can be isolating. Having friends who want to hang out at home or at parks instead of bars and restaurants make the weekends much easier.

Some people don’t care about their financial future right now. It doesn’t make them bad people or even irresponsible.

I repeat: It doesn’t make them bad people or irresponsible.

But you’re in a different place than they are and you need to keep company that’s on the same page or you’ll keep spending and spending because saying no every week is near impossible.

11. Be Real

Don’t be fakin it. If you’re behind on your debt snowball don’t pretend you’re doing fine.

The more you lie about your progress the more backed up you’ll feel which could lead to giving up. When you’re honest with yourself and the people around you, you’ll stay committed to the process and help more people with your story.


I hope these steps will help you avoid burnout and stay committed to this process, because it is worth every sacrifice and every no that comes out of your mouth. And I’ll be here every step of the way to see you through it.

We have been so burnt out! These tips were so helpful in motivating us to start again!

9 Comments on “11 Steps to Avoid Burnout When Paying off Debt”

  1. I think celebrating wins is so very important!! Not only because it will keep you sane, but it’s also part of self-care especially going through a process like paying off debt… it will help you stay encouraged and keep going!

  2. I’m so glad to see you count Crossfit as a “worth it” expense, too! I love the Crossfit work out and community, but I have struggled with the cost. I eventually came to the conclusion that being healthier (physically and mentally) was worth it, even if it did slow the financial goals.

    1. Me too Caron. I gave it up for about 9 months and realized I’d rather give up unhealthy habits in order to keep my healthy ones.

  3. Pingback: Why the Myth of Moderation is Keeping you in Debt - And How to Get Out - Saving with Spunk

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