Do you have what it takes to pay off your debt?
If you recently made the decision to pay off your debt or are in the beginning stages of your journey, you may be wondering if you have what it takes. Will you see this thing through? Will your debt-free journey be successful?
Making the decision to pay off your debt is in itself an accomplishment. Deciding to change your habits and behaviors to see the results you desire is no small feat. However, just like runners prepare themselves physically and psychologically before a marathon, it would benefit you to prepare yourself for your debt-free journey.
Luckily you can do that without months of preparation and carb-loading. Some prep, however, is definitely in order, as having unrealistic expectations about what it takes to pay off your debt is the quickest way to end your journey before you see any real progress.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Begin to Pay Off Your Debt
For this reason, there are some questions that you can ask yourself before you begin your debt-free journey or get too deep into it. These questions are not an official checklist for "debt-reduction candidacy," if there ever was such a thing, but they will shed light on what you will face as you pay off your debt. Ask yourself these questions, and be open and honest as you answer.
Are you able to tell yourself no?
Your ability to say "no" to yourself will affect your debt-free journey in many ways — the outcome, how long it will take, and your morale along the way, among other things. It's also necessary to master saying no to yourself before you can say no to anyone else — which leads us to the next question...
Can you say no to others?
For some people, telling others no will be harder than telling themselves no. It's especially hard to say no to those closest to you, however learning how to do so will be crucial on your journey.
Can you work at something even if the payoff is not immediate?
Depending on how you much debt you are tackling and how you are addressing it, you may have to slog your way through for a little while before seeing massive results. If you're able to chip away at a goal while keeping your eye on the prize, you will likely succeed.
Are you able to sacrifice?
Sacrifice is necessary if you're going to pay off your debt. Are you willing to do it? Are you willing to give up things to reach your goal?
Can you resist temptation?
You will be tempted during your debt-free journey, so brace yourself. You'll be tempted to return to your old habits, tempted to give up, and tempted to make decisions that will delay your goals. Your ability to withstand temptation will be a factor in your success.
Can you put the opinions of others to the side?
Because not everyone will understand or agree with your decision to dump your debt, you will have some naysayers. Some will doubt your ability to pay off your debt; some will downright criticize your choices. Being able to turn a deaf ear to their opinions and criticism — especially to those closest to you — will serve you well.
Are you okay with being different?
Remember, you're going against the grain by choosing to pay off your debt. And the differences will continue even beyond making that final payment. If you are okay with not being like everyone else, you will do well on your journey.
Do you have support?
Choosing to pay off your debt is not something you can do without support of some kind. If you're single, you can find support by identifying a close friend or relative that you trust and who is level-headed to be your accountability partner. If you're married, you need more than your spouse's support; you need their complete buy-in.
So, how did you do? Now this list of questions is by no means an exhaustive list, however, the more questions you answered "yes" to, the greater likelihood you have at succeeding in paying off your debt.
And if you didn't answer them all favorably, do not worry. That is not an indication that your debt-free journey will automatically fail. Rather, you now know the areas you will need to work on and be aware of as you pay off your debt.
Related: Looking at student debt