Paying off your debt, like losing weight, can be a struggle

The dollars, like the pounds, never seem to come off fast enough. How can you stay on your spending “diet” when the ultimate goal seems so far off? Budgeting experts offer these tips to prevent debt fatigue.

1. Create Bize-Size Goals

That huge credit card or line of credit balance can seem daunting. Divide it into smaller chunks, and make those the immediate target. Don’t think of the $10,000 you owe-focus on the $1,000 you can repay this month. Instead of seeing a debt mountain that you’ll never climb, you keep getting to the next peak.

2. Be Aware of Spending Triggers

People often ignore the underlying reasons why they spend, says Laurie Campbell, executive director of Toronto-based Credit Canada, which offers debt and credit counselling. She says that’s a major reason why people get off track when repaying debt. Do you spend in reaction to, say, a bad day at work or relationship problems? Consider other ways to deal with those triggers, such as working out or talking to friends.

3. Picture Your Progress

Beyond looking at diminishing balances on a statement, keep a tangible reminder of how well you’re doing. Gail Vaz- Oxlade, host of Til Debt Do Us Part on the Slice network, suggests using a chain, where each link represents, for example, $100 of debt. Every time you pay off that amount, remove a link, continually reinforcing your efforts.

4. Don’t Be Too Rigid

It’s easy to get frustrated and fail if you don’t factor in any luxury or entertainment costs. As with a food diet, permit yourself the occasional treat. “You have to allow some flexibility within the budget,” says Campbell. Realistic and sustainable lifestyle changes can ensure what she calls “success without complete deprivation.”

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