The last stretch of any journey is often the hardest. There are less than three months left in 2016 and for those of you trying to get out of debt this year, these might be the most taxing months yet. Not only are you likely worn out by all your hard work to pay off your debt so far, but there are also extra spending temptations in the months ahead as we get into the holiday season.
How do you get to the end of the year without blowing your budget so that you can ring in 2017 debt-free? Here are some tips to help you stay on track during this last stretch.
Remind Yourself why it’s Important
Sometimes it can be hard to remember why you started a journey or set a goal for yourself. If you’ve already paid off some of your debt, then you might not feel the same level of anxiety that you felt when you first started your repayment journey in January 2016. That might make you think that you don’t have to repay you debt as aggressively anymore.
However, when you made repaying debt your goal, it was because it was something important to you. You likely wanted to relieve yourself of the stresses that debt brings. You also might have had plans to do something with the money that you’re currently putting towards your debt once it’s paid off. Remind yourself why you’re working to get out of debt in the first place and recommit to follow through with it.
Also read: 12 months to being debt free – August
Tackle Your Debt Fatigue
Debt fatigue is that feeling you get when you’re frustrated and tired of focusing all your attention and money on your debt. If you’re feeling that way, then this could impact the final months of your repayment since it might cause you to splurge on something you can’t afford. Instead, try to be aware of how you feel and do what you can to proactively deal with your emotions. That could include giving yourself small rewards or a short debt repayment break. By ensuring you don’t get too frustrated or worn out, you’ll prevent yourself from being led off track by a bad or impulsive decision.
Related read: 12 months to being debt free – June
Ask for Help
Being able to ask for help is critical to getting out of debt, but it’s especially important in these last few months. That might mean that you ask a friend or relative to babysit instead of paying for a sitter, or that you suggest to meet up with your siblings at a coffee shop or someone’s house instead of going out for dinner. Find ways to lean on your network for support, and ask them to keep your budget in mind when you plan outings together.
Budget for the Holidays
One of the most common mistakes that people make when budgeting is that they fail to put aside a certain amount for gifts and entertaining. This is particularly problematic around the holidays. To ensure that you can stay on track, start saving now to ensure you have enough for the holidays. Cut back on other expenses from now through November, so that you can have what you need to get through December without blowing your budget or getting behind on your debt repayment.
Once you have an idea of how much money you can set aside, you should sit down and look at what you really need to buy. If you don’t have enough to cover it all, some great ways to cut back on holiday spending are to consider preparing more cost-conscious meals when you’re entertaining, making presents rather than buying them, or deciding among your friends and family to give smaller gifts or skip gifting altogether.
If you just can’t cut back on any of your expenses – or you can but still don’t have enough – consider getting a second job in order to make up the difference. There are a lot of part-time opportunities around the holidays, mainly in retail stores or with Canada Post.
Don’t Worry if You Get Off-Track
If you’re not on track to meet your goal, try not to stress about it. Recalculate the time it will take you to finish paying off your debt and recommit to your goal. The point of committing to being debt free in 12 months wasn’t to cause you additional stress but to help make it easier for you to focus on your goal of being debt free. If it takes a few extra months, that won’t matter once you’re fully in the clear.
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