I’m no stranger to credit card debt. In fact, The Frugal Path household is currently on our journey out of debt that was created by not having an emergency fund. Just because my wife and I are working our way out of debt doesn’t mean that it’s always easy to get out. Our culture constantly bombards us with ads. You hear them on the radio, watch them on television and the internet and see them during your daily commute. These ads are designed to make us purchase a service or product and they can be very persuasive.
Statements are just numbers.
This almost constant stream of desires and wants can sometimes make paying off debt seem pointless. When your credit card statement comes at the end of the month it appears as cold hard numbers and doesn’t really show what was purchased with the card.
The numbers represented on the statement obviously represent the items that you purchased. However, they just list the store and the amount paid. I understand that it doesn’t make sense for the credit card companies to itemize everything you purchased. That would not only be an ecological nightmare, but also a logistical one as well.
When you finally open your statement it can be easy to just push paying it off until the next month indefinitely. Why? Because you forget what was purchased. You might still be wearing those jeans that make your butt look awesome, but you’ve forgotten that you paid $77.50 with plastic. You may also be showing off the photos from your $3,000 cruise last week, but forgot that you haven’t actually paid a cent for it.
Credit Card Purchases Aren’t Tangible
Kate Bingaman-Burt went through a struggle very similar to the scenarios presented when she was attempting to pay off her debt. Sunday Feb 10th, 2013 I listened to her story on MarketPlace Money. Like many, when Kate’s credit card statements came in at the end of the month she had a difficult time paying them. The statements weren’t tangible items and she had a hard time relating the statements to her purchases. Instead of throwing in the towel and staying buried in debt Kate began drawing her purchases.
During the interview Kate explained that drawing these items “humanized” them for her. The statements were no longer just cold numbers and she also put more thought into the items that she purchased. If you’re curious about Kate Bingaman-Burt’s artwork be sure to check out her book: Obsessive Consumption: What Did You Buy Today?.
Make Your Debt Tangible
What if you’re not super artsy and drawing isn’t for you but you’re still having a difficult time with the cold facts on your statement? Don’t despair, there are other ways to make your debt tangible.
A few years ago when we got serious about paying down our debt we created a debt thermometer. Every month we’d track how much debt was paid off and had a tiny celebration. The celebrations were nothing crazy, maybe a fist bump or high-five. However, these tiny victories did help to keep us motivated. It made paying our debt tangible with a definite goal. The thermometer also helped us visualize how far we’ve come rather than just how much debt we had left to pay down.
Have you ever been in debt and out of motivation? What techniques did you try to help get you out of debt? Did they work?
Photo Provided By: cdaltonrowe