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  1. #1

    Debt Pay Down is a Marathon

    Debt Pay Down is a Marathon - Not a Sprint

    Sometimes when you’re in the middle of a large debt pay down it feels like you’re running a marathon. Paying off a large sum of debt can feel overwhelming and exhausting. And when you’re financially and emotionally exhausted it’s common to feel defeated.

    But with a positive attitude, a good pair of sneakers and a good set of cheerleaders you can finish the debt marathon. When you start believing in yourself, others will get on board and that makes the run that much easier.

    Below are some of the similarities I’ve noticed between debt pay down and running. Although many of us (myself included) have not actually run a marathon, I think that most people can identify with these analogies:

    Winning the Debt Marathon

    • Start out slow. When you’re first getting back into marathon shape, emotions are high. It’s exciting to feel like you’re finally getting back in control of your finances. This excitement often causes us to get a little over ambitious. Remember that slow and steady wins the debt race. If you start out running too quickly you might “over do it” and become too tired to finish the race.

    • Run in your comfy shoes. Sure, those fancy brand name sneakers might look nice, but are they comfortable? The running and debt “experts” are happy to share tips and tricks that work for them. But don’t let them tell you what works for you. You know how the sneaker feels better than they do because they’re not wearing it. If the shoes are giving you blisters, toss them!

    • Don’t expect immediate results. If the most you’ve run at one time is 5 miles, don’t expect to be able to run 20 miles the following day. Building up endurance takes time. Your debt pay down race will be more effective if you build good habits and learn good money management principles.

    • Don’t buy fancy sports drinks. When you’re running, good old water will keep you hydrated. When you’re paying off debt, most “debt relief” systems are a waste of money. Those systems are based on false promises and won’t make you a better runner. Find the debt pay down strategy (or combination of strategies) that work for you and ignore the hype about debt forgiveness and loan consolidation. You don’t need expensive tools to help you pay down debt.

    • Don’t compare yourself to others. Whether you run the marathon in 2 hours or 2 days doesn’t matter. Debt pay down is personal and your pace shouldn’t be based on, or determined by, your peers’ progress.

    • Stretch-You might not feel sore immediately after the run, but the next day it’s going to hurt. Your muscles have to tear to get stronger. Budgeting and paying down debt is probably going to hurt a little at first. You’re going to have to make sacrifices and give up some of the things you enjoy to become debt free. Keep running and keep stretching. The more you do the easier and more pleasant (because you’ll see the progress) it will become.

    • Find Cheerleaders. When I was paying off my debt my family and friends were incredibly supportive of me. Their cheering and support kept me going when I wanted to quit. Surround yourself with supportive people who will keep you accountable. There will be days you don’t feel like running, those are the days you need your debt cheerleaders.

  2. Debt Pay Down is a Marathon
  3. #2
    Another great post and analogy. Most of the time taking on too much at once can actually end up backfiring - I think that lasting change often happens gradually - you need to put positive habits in place to reinforce and guide every day actions. Making small but important changes first (like starting to run a few times a week) can have much larger positive effects on your life and health just a few months down the road.

    The interesting thing about this analogy is that your personal health and debt really do impact each other in more ways that you can imagine. I would be willing to bet that improving habits that effect your health and well being will also have a positive effect on your finances.

  4. #3
    Registered User Enthusiast
    This a good point, I definitely started out too fast. I put too much money onto my credit card but didn't budget it well, so of course I had to pay for groceries, etc on the card. Now I'm putting a more manageable amount on my cards per month. I've accepted that it's going to take a long time to pay off.

  5. #4
    Registered User Enthusiast
    It's hard not to compare yourself to others when it comes to debt. I have friends from college who have already paid most of their debt off, but I have to remind myself that their parents are helping them a lot with living expenses, so of course they can pay their debt down faster.

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