Tips & Tricks

How to stay motivated when paying off credit card debt

Emma Nunes-Vaz
January 16, 2024

Same-day delivery. 15-minute groceries. 30 second TikTok videos. We’ve got so used to things happening almost instantly that we’ve come to expect it from all areas of our lives. Annoyingly, paying down your debt isn’t something you’re going to be able to do before the next episode of Love Island gets released. It’s a marathon, not a sprint and this leads us nicely to the first secret:

1. Be realistic and consistent

We all love being ambitious and finding motivation in that instant moment of taking action, but it often fades in the following days or weeks. You know that feeling when you’ve started going to the gym but one day really don’t feel like it or you’re not seeing progress so your motivation dwindles. It’s exactly the same when it comes to paying down debts and the answer is exactly the same, focus on being consistent not the outcome. And consistent doesn’t mean things can’t change, it just means taking one step forward every time no matter how big the step.

How does this manifest itself? Goals. Instead of saying you’re going to pay your debt off by a distant month in the future where you have no control over what your situation will be, be honest and realistic with yourself and commit to a goal now of paying a certain amount every month. This breaks the challenge down to be more achievable and gets you into a debt-repaying habit, while also removing a looming deadline which only creates stress and anxiety.

2. Track, Track, Track!

Progress is the name of the game. And to track progress, you need to find a method that best works for you. That could be a spreadsheet, in notes or if you prefer to be able to track your progress with incredible simplicity and ease then use us (Big-headed much? Yeah, but we know it’s true)  The frequency in which you do check-ins all depends on what your goals are. If you’re working towards paying a certain payment each month then you might want to do a bi-weekly check-in to make sure you’re on the right path to making that payment. That way if you’re slightly off path you have time to course-correct or might find you need to switch things up if your current approach isn’t quite working.

Lastly, you can’t celebrate your wins if you don’t track them which brings us onto one of the most important points.

3. Celebrate your progress

As you pay down your debt, be sure to celebrate your milestones along the way. Whether it’s contributing £2, £20 or £200 - even 1% of progress that’s been achieved is a step in the right direction and remember that progress is the name of the game We know this might feel counterintuitive, especially if you’re deep in debt but celebrating doesn’t need to feel like a guilty thing, nor does it need to be elaborate. It could be as simple as treating yourself to a coffee or a new book. The purpose is to take the moment to recognise the work you’ve put in and reward yourself for the hard work. This helps you reset for the next leg of the pay-off journey. 

4. Find yourself an accountability buddy

Having someone to support you and hold you accountable can be a great way to stay motivated. We aren’t talking about a teacher, student dynamic where you get punished for not reaching a goal, what we mean is your own personal cheerleader who knows what you are trying to achieve and can give you some motivation when you feel slumped.

Find a friend, family member or coworker who is also trying to pay off debt and work together. Similarly, there is an Incredible-y (👀) supportive personal finance community on Instagram who all encourage and share their journeys out of debt with one another. Maybe consider creating your own account (you can make it anonymous if that makes you feel more comfortable) and an inside tip is for your first post make sure to use the #debtfreecommunityuk hashtag

5. Times will get tough so accept it now

We won’t lie to you there will be times when you feel like giving up but that is completely normal. However, it’s important to remember why you started this journey in the first place as well as what it means to you once you reach that target. Remind yourself of the benefits of being debt-free and keep on pushing - remember your why!

Whilst journeys are never linear, it’s important to optimise ways to stay motivated so that you continue moving forward. If you are struggling to stay motivated, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There are many resources available to you including an Incredible-y helpful app (we promise we will stop with the puns once you download the app from the app store 😂).