How Realism and Creativity Can Help You Get Out of Debt


Sometimes I get frustrated with my life (and myself) because it seems that paying off debt is an endless process, a perpetual torture of saying “no”, a continuous refusal to spend on something that makes me happy. It feels that there is no end, no light and no way out.

I make one payment after another after another but nothing happens. I think one of the reasons I go on my shopping binges is because I want to feel alive. When all you do is work, pay bills, budget, pay some more bills, cut expenses, refuse purchases, you end up feeling tired, miserable and deprived.

The other day, when I was in a bad mood, contemplating our debt reduction action plan, I almost gave up. Believe me, I would not be the first or the last one to give up. Some of us do know what we want and still surrender. Some of us are intently focused on achieving our financial goals, and still stop in the middle of the road. Some of us have enough reasoning and motivation to keep going, and still halt to a full stop.

But then I remembered that there are things, good positive things, that can help me to change my attitude.

The following is for those of you who are like me:

who have doubts
who feel like they are being trapped
who are exhausted by never ending debt
who want to feel alive
who hate that big gap between where you want to be and where you are now.


I can say that I am going to pay off ALL my debt in one year. I can also say that I am going to the moon.

Numbers speak louder than any words, plans and dreams. We cannot make double payments on our bills. I wish we could! But it is not possible. We still need to eat, pay our mortgage, pay our bills and take care of our pets. And… yes, we still need to be able to travel, shop and have fun.

Being realistic with what I can do and cannot do helps me to decide what I should do.


Call me naïve. Call me a fool. I like to daydream, imagining our life AFTER we pay off our debt. I visualize a dazzling version of our life after debt. Somehow it makes it easier for me to stick to our budget and keep myself away from the malls. Those day dreams and images of what life can be are my motivation. They keep me going. They build my anticipation of a better life.

Most importantly, I always pay close attention to that gap between where we are now and where we want to be. I know it is getting smaller and smaller.

It might not be as noticeable at first, but believe me, sooner or later you see the difference.

27 thoughts on “How Realism and Creativity Can Help You Get Out of Debt”

  1. I have found being realistic with myself a big plus these days. In the past I have devised plans on how to reach goals in a manner that would be unattainable and lead me to failure. This is not my objective of course. This past year or so I have been trying to be more realistic with myself and I have been a lot more successful. When we outline a plan based on what we can actually do we feel much more accomplished. At least this is what has happened to me.
    Good luck with paying off your debt. I think if you are realistic with your timelines and your strategy you will do just fine.

    1. Being realistic is much tougher than people think. But it helps to set achievable goals and not get discouraged down the road.

  2. I’m quite good at the realistic part. That is a whole letter in setting SMART goals – specific, measurable, actionable, reasonable, and time-bound. I’m getting better at the creative side, though I’m sure there is some issue with living in the future and ignoring the past, motivation and positive thinking/imagery have been shown to be positive contributors toward achieving goals. Thanks for the thoughts!

    1. I love graphs. It is one of the reasons I installed that tracking bar on the right hand side. 🙂

  3. You should find a different way to feel alive! 🙂
    How about doing something to pump up your adrenaline like sports or rock climbing?
    I think if you make progress every month, you’re doing pretty well. It might take a long time, but you’ll get there.

  4. I am seeing the difference! It feels great but that doesn’t mean it’s not a challenge to keep up the good work. I have a very big goal for 2012 ($20,000 debt payoff) and it’s already required me to say no on an almost daily basis. Want to go out to dinner? No. Can you come visit me in hawai’i? No. Can you come to my bachelorette? No (but I am paying $$$ to go to the wedding). I don’t like saying no but its the only way I can get out of debt. I just worry sometimes that I’m going to have no friends left once the debt is all paid off :)!

    1. I’ve been saying no a lot. Some friends stopped inviting me to functions already. 🙂 But true friends understand!

  5. I am ralistic but very ambituous: and we did pay loads off in two years. What I noticed is that the more ambituous my goals regarding debt repayment the more sensitive I become to earning opportunities.

    As to doubt, at one point about eighteen months ago I was telling my husband that I will have to merge my accounting system and my creative writing attempts and call it a day. I didn’t and it is going well.

  6. Yes I agree that you should be realistic, but if you have a true passion to get rid of your debt you should also be willing to make some sacrifices. Travel and fun were not part of the picture when I was slaying my massive $60k in debt. Sure I missed it, but the vision of life without debt was enough to make me realistically want to sacrifice now for a better future. Don’t use realism as a scapegoat or a way to enable your spending is all I’m saying.

  7. Lisa @ Cents To Save

    I know just how you feel Aloyssa! I try to pay the debt down, try not to eat out, try to find the best bargain but sometimes I am my own worse enemy. It will take time, but eventually I will get the debt paid down. And so will you! 🙂

    1. I can actually see that light in the end of the tunnel. A couple years ago, I didn’t. So I guess that day will come eventually.

  8. Great motivational post. I’m very impatient and want to see results today. I’ve found that if I just practice a little patience it pays dividends because the day after I was impatient is when I usually start seeing the needle move on whatever result I’d been hoping for.

    1. Patience is my weakness. Actually I should say the lack of it! I am really impatient and learned the hard way to wait, and wait, and plan, and work hard. After all, good things are worth waiting for.

  9. I love this post.. striking the balance between realism and sustainability is something I struggle with. Gotta start thinking more creatively about how to earn, save, and spend.

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  13. Don’t give up! Although you are speaking specifically about getting out of debt, these two tips are great for achieving your goals and dreams. Thanks for the motivation!

  14. I don’t think doing that visualizing is naïve — I think it’s smart. Stick with it and you’ll get to enjoy that dazzling vision 🙂

  15. Debt can be depressing… But by being creative about ways to pay off your debt and realizing that you need to pay your debt off as soon as possible will help you achieve your goal. I submitted this post on reddit. Good luck!

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  17. Even if you are out of debt and working on other financial goals, sometimes it is so difficult to remember that right now, in this moment, is your life. Not tomorrow, not two years from now, but right now. And this may be the only “now” you get! Or you might wake up two years from now and wonder where all the time went. Sure, you met your goal, but did you enjoy the journey?

    Good post!

  18. Greeting from far away India. I KNOW the feeling that you described. Been living it every single day. Very recently an incident happened where a friend of mine sort of commented that I do not KNOW how to go out and have fun like she did (which in fact involved spending loads of money on a continuous basis). Quite depressing comments but I just brushed them off and continued with life. 🙂 BUT it does feel good to know that I already am debt free except for my mortgage AND I look forward to being mortgage free in about 5 months time BEFORE my 45th birthday. BUT I had to give away a lot of todays for tomorrow.

  19. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who has been doing a little homework
    on this. And he actually bought me breakfast due to the fact that
    I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So let me reword this….
    Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to discuss
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