The waiting is the hardest part. – Tom Petty
There’s a secret I want to tell you about getting out of debt with intensity: it’s boring.
For me, that can be a stressful. My day is usually filled with lots of chaos, but in a good way. My job is fast-paced, and my mind is constantly stimulated with exciting projects, deadlines, and challenges.
But no matter how quickly the day goes, the paychecks still only come in at regular intervals. The cycle goes like this: work, get paid, then pay on the debt with every paycheck. After the money has been processed with the bank holding the student loan, the process is complete. Repeat.
Since I’m paid twice a month, it can make the whole thing just feel slow.
I want to get this over with. I am angry. I want to be done now. But that’s not how this works. We have to be diligent, and we also have to be patient (a little).
This week I’ve had anxiety about the process. I started thinking about retirement, saving for college, getting a house someday, replacing the cars, and family vacations, and … Ugh!
Getting out of debt is a lot like trying to lose weight. It is so easy to put on weight (at least, for me). All I have to do is mindlessly eat and give myself no restrictions, then magically one day my clothes don’t fit anymore.
Debt isn’t any different. All I have to do is mindless spend without restrictions, and just like that I can wander into debt — or at the very least — spending everything I have on things that are frivolous and detrimental to my overall financial health.
I have to constantly remind myself to slow down, take a mental break, and breathe. This is happening. We are working a plan. The plan is going to succeed, and it’s going to succeed this year. Calm down, Eric.
That’s not to say I’m not trying other things to get the ball rolling a little faster. I am working on a freelancing gig, but the money won’t be rolling in for awhile. We will likely get something with our tax returns, and we have an appointment with our tax preparer for Feb. 19 to do our taxes. I am constantly looking for ways to save a dollar here, or gain a dollar there.
Move forward, wait. Move forward some more, wait.
Generally speaking, I’m a calm person. I tend to think that whatever happens in life, most often everything is going to work out fine. That all goes out the window when I’m dead set on a goal. It consumes me, and when progress doesn’t happen as fast as I want it, I start to break down.
I wish there was some magical way to get this last leg of our debt snowball done. But there’s no white knight coming. We have to do the work, we have to be mindful in our spending, we have to patient.
We are going to win the war. But these battles are going to be hard fought until then.