This post is the third in a series following my journey to pay off debt, especially the process of paying off student loans.  Why talk about debt and money on a college blog?  Simple.  I can’t blog about college and grad school and not blog about money.  Money issues are the #1 cause of college stress!  If you missed the beginning of the series, be sure to check out my post introducing this money challenge and last week’s post about setting a budget that works.

What gets you motivated to reach your financial goals? Here are 4 things that get me excited to pay off debt! |

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. That just means that I may receive a small commission if you buy a product linked on this page.  It sure helps towards paying off those student loans! For more information, please see my disclosures page.

Budget Boot Camp Week 3

I just wrapped up week 3 of the 90 Day Budget Boot Camp.

I love eating out, but am I willing to give it up for a little while to be debt free? |

 This week’s challenge was to plan ahead…to defeat your triggers.  What are the events or situations that trigger you to spend money and break the budget?  Is there a particular situation where you tend to spend?  For me, my trigger is a failure to plan for lunch.  To stay on budget, I need to pack my lunch each day and not eat out.  I can eat out when I don’t have debt!  Yes, I’m going extreme here, because I extremely want to be debt free!  But packing a lunch requires planning and follow through.  I really need to do it the night before, but sometimes that doesn’t happen, so I end up eating out.  Eating out works against both my financial fitness goals and my physical fitness goals right now.  When I pack a lunch, I tend to eat healthier and have better portion control, and if I eat out, I don’t have time to go on a walk at lunchtime.

Pay Off Debt by Beating Your Spending Triggers

Defeat your spending triggers to pay off debt faster! A little planning can make those nasty triggers less powerful. |

The idea of planning for the trigger is to reduce the number of situations where I’ll have to have super willpower.  Can I remove the trigger or take the steam out of it, or take the choice out of it?  In my case, I stocked my desk at work with nonperishable lunch and snack options.  If I forget to bring a lunch, I have choices right there so I don’t have to eat out and spend money.

Staying Motivated

It also helps to get motivated and stay motivated with the advice and stories of others.  You
can keep up the momentum and remember why you are making the hard choices.  The WHY will get you through this.  Here are four things that get me excited to stay on budget and pay off debt.

#1 Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover

Dave Ramsey’s book breaks down the process of getting financially on track into “baby steps.” Each chapter is filled with stories of people who have done this before, so you can get pumped up!  In this whole process, Dave Ramsey’s book has become the strategy for the big picture process of attacking the debt and getting debt free, while the 90 Day Budget Boot Camp is building the muscles to stay on the budget that I set.  The two programs are nicely complementary
Baby step 1 is to build a $1000 “baby” emergency fund as fast as you can. The idea is that if debt (credit cards) is your plan for dealing with emergencies, you will never get out of debt.  So while you’ll build a more robust emergency fund later, before you even start to aggressively pay off debt, you need a small emergency fund so that your emergencies don’t make you go back on your goal. I had a decent emergency fund before my car accident a few months ago, but hadn’t rebuilt it yet, so that’s my focus for the next few weeks.  As of right now, I have 20% of that goal complete, and I’m on track to be there by the end of the month.  I get super motivated by the stories from Dave’s book about how Murphy didn’t seem to come around so often once people had that emergency fund.  If you’re ready to get motivated – and get a great strategy – to get your finances on track, I really recommend Dave’s book.  I read it in a weekend, haha.

#2 Share the Journey!

Comment with your best budget tips, and be featured on The Cafe Scholar's Facebook and Pinterest pages! Make sure to include your social profile so I can tag you in the post! |

It was super uncomfortable to write my first post about my journey to pay off debt, and how far I have to go.  But since I started blogging about my budget challenge and debt repayment journey, I am super excited to tackle the challenge each week!  I talk about it all the time, not even just online.  My coworkers, my banker, and even the hotel concierge from this weekend’s work trip know what I’m all about.  It helps me get excited, and it also helps me stay accountable.  I don’t want to mess up, because people know.  I’m not going to beat myself up when I stumble – this group is also a great cheering section! – but the accountability definitely helps!  If you want to stay motivated, don’t hide your mess from the world.  Instead, share your journey.  When you are open about it, you feel so much lighter, you stay accountable, you have a cheering section, and you might even motivate someone else to take the plunge and get on a budget.  Your story doesn’t have to be finished to help someone.  Share your journey to pay off debt on a blog, on social media, or even with your group of friends. And if you have a great budget tip, share that too!  Leave a comment with your best budget tip on my post about breakthrough budgets, be sure to include your Facebook page, and I will share it to The Cafe Scholar’s Facebook and Pinterest accounts!

#3 Don’t just get Physical, Get Visual

I'm 20% of the way to my baby emergency fund. How far are you? #babystep1 |

I’m not the most visual of people, personally, but it really helps to visualize your goal.  This post from The Cultivated Nest has some great ideas for creating visual reminders of your goal.  Try to come up with a visual in a place you will see often: your bathroom mirror, cell phone, screen saver, on your wall, or even taped to your debit card!  There are lots of free templates to create your own debt thermometer to fill in as you pay off debt.  Or borrow an idea from the weight loss community.  I once saw an episode of Extreme Weight Loss where Chris had the athlete-to-be move beans from one jar to another every time she lost weight.  You could do the same as you pay off debt.  If your goal is really big, try creating a visual for the smaller goals too, so you have something to celebrate early on.  Since I’m on Baby Step 1, I created a visual for my “baby” emergency fund savings, which I will update each week until that goal is destroyed!

#4 Listen to the Screams

I love listening to all the "debt-free screams!" on the Dave Ramsey Show! I can't wait till I get to do my own debt free scream! |

The debt-free screams, that is!  I was recently introduced to The Dave Ramsey Show by my friend Julie (who is an amazing voice teacher, by the way!).  I listen to the podcast on my commute, and my favorite part is hearing people who come on the show to do their debt-free screams.  These are people just like you and me.  People from all walks of life, levels of income, family situations successfully pay of debt and live to tell the story.  People that just decided to be different.  I love hearing about their journeys to independence, and that sheer joy when they scream “we’re debt free!”  Each time, I imagine my own debt-free scream and I am super motivated to get this business done.

Now it’s your turn.  What is one of your favorite ways to stay motivated towards your financial goals?

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. That just means that I may receive a small commission if you buy a product linked on this page.  It sure helps towards paying off those student loans! For more information, please see my disclosures page.

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  1. I motivate myself thinking about my kids’ future. It’s a no brainer, with 3 of them I cannot be in debt and I need tons of savings 😉 Total Money Makeover is great, opened my eyes. Baby steps work very well for me.

    • Alicja, that’s the best motivation! Are you on baby step 2?


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