Are you fed up with living with debt? It’s a stressful way to be, and the only way out is to start your journey with a debt payoff plan. Of course, you already know that it’s going to take cutting back in some areas of your life to make it happen. But did you also know that discipline is a huge factor in your debt payoff journey? Here’s why.

How to Get Started on a Debt Payoff Journey

When you’ve decided to tackle debt once and for all, you may be wondering where to start. Follow these 3 steps to get started paying off debt.

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1. Assess your debt: Create a list of your current debts, including the amount and interest rate. Be sure to include all lines of credit, loans, and outstanding bills.

2. Calculate your repayment strategy: Use a loan payoff calculator to decide on the best repayment strategy. Popular options include the debt snowball, where you pay off the lowest-balance debt first, and the debt avalanche, where you start with the highest-interest debt.

3. Create a plan and stick to it: Once you decide on a strategy, figure out how much you’ll need to pay per month and where that money will come from. Set your plan in motion and see it through until the end. This is the point where discipline becomes essential.

Why Discipline Is Important

Google defines discipline as “training someone to obey rules” and “using punishment to correct disobedience.” But don’t let that definition scare you. Discipline just means sticking with the plan and course-correcting when you fall off track.

It’s important to practice discipline in debt payoff because it enables you to sacrifice in the present for a better future down the line. And it’s very closely linked with willpower. Once you’ve calculated your monthly debt payments, it’s going to take willpower to make the right financial choices, even when life throws you curveballs and temptations.

4 Ways to Increase Financial Discipline

There are a few ways to strengthen your discipline muscle to ensure you’ll stay on track.

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Define Your “Why”

It’s far easier to reach a goal when you have motivation behind it. Taking time to determine why repaying debt is meaningful can serve as that motivation during a lengthy debt payoff journey.

Your why might be that you want to get out of debt so you can start to save for your children’s college. Or maybe you’re paying it off because you’re planning a big cross-country move. No matter why you’re determined to repay debt, it’s important to verbalize it and keep it front and center as you move forward in your journey.

Set Regular Check-ins

Whether weekly or monthly, setting regular check-ins is a great way to stay on track over time. The more frequently you check-in, the easier it is to correct behavior before you end up unable to cover that month’s debt payments.

Setting a check-in is especially important if you’re paying down debt with a partner. It’s much harder to stay on track when debt payoff responsibilities are shared. But the shared discipline of being able to hold each other accountable will be doubly valuable as you progress.

Make Payments Automatic

A surefire way to make sure you stick to your debt payoff plan is to entirely alleviate the need for discipline. And the best way to do that is by automating every debt payment possible. When you rely on auto-draft to take the money out of your bank on payday, you won’t have time to even think about spending it on something else.

Focus on the Big Picture

When you’re in the throes of debt repayment, it can feel like you’re not getting any traction. And while month to month it may seem like you’re paying, paying, paying, and not getting anywhere, it’s critical to take time to review your big picture.

Keep a spreadsheet that will allow you to see how much you’ve paid on each debt. Then, when you’re feeling low, look at how far you’ve come and the impact you’ve made already instead of how far you are from the end goal.

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The Bottom Line

Sticking with a debt payoff plan can be grueling. And having discipline is a way to make sure you follow it through to the finish line. Once you calculate your monthly payment, use strategies like finding your why, monthly check-ins, and automated payments to ensure discipline stays high. Before you know it, you’ll be happily cruising along the road to debt-free living.

Brooke Joly

Brooke is a freelancer who focuses on the financial wellness and technology sectors. She has a passion for all things wellness and spends her days cooking up healthy recipes, running, and snuggling up with a good book and her fur babies.