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LaToya Irby

Does Paying Off Debt Mean Being Miserable?

By February 18, 2013

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Paying off debt is hard, but "Why the Second Year of Paying Off Debt is Hardest" makes it seem like paying off debt is the most agonizing thing you'll ever do in your life. The author writes:

[...]We will continue to solicit roommates to share the burden of rent in our miniscule house, where we have started to keep the heat at 58 degrees in the middle of Midwestern winter. I will once again consider selling the rest of my clothes, my final possessions, which will leave me with one old hoodie, so many tee shirts from high school, and a pair of shoes that do not fit me or any human person. I will apply for overnight jobs, because I had been getting a solid six hours of sleep most nights, and that's time I could be working. I will find no solutions, and I will cry while looking at cards in Whole Foods.

I'm not criticizing the writer of this particular article, because I don't know the details of her situation. However, I think there's a lesson for all of us who are working hard to pay off debt: it doesn't have to be miserable.

Your debt plan can be as difficult or easy as you want it to be. You can take the more extreme route, living as frugally as possible, e.g. rinsing and reusing paper towels or surviving on Ramen noodles, but if you're painfully miserable while doing it, you have to question whether your plan is too aggressive. You can loosen your plan, e.g. work fewer hours on your part-time job or splurge on a fancy dinner every once in awhile, but realize that, by doing so, you're also increasing the amount of time it takes you to pay off your debt, perhaps by a month or maybe a few months. Is that so bad?

You must also consider how long-term misery will affect your health and well-being. Stress is linked to serious health problems like depression, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and possibly cancer. All of these can indirectly affect your debt repayment progress, e.g. more sick days at work or increased medical bills, and, more importantly, these health issues can affect your life. Being depressed while paying off debt can also be demotivating, causing you to lose focus or abandon your plan all together.

If paying off debt is stressing you out or making you miserable, revisit your plan. Use a debt repayment calculator to see the impact of diverting $25 or $50 from your debt to something more enjoyable - a date night, nice bottle of wine, trip to the bowling alley.

Debt Repayment Articles: 15 Tips to Make Debt Repayment Easier | Overcome Discouragement in Paying Off Debt | 7 Reasons Paying Debt is So Hard

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