One of the best ways to increase your success in managing student loans is to celebrate each and every win.
For some, the simple act of making a lender phone call is enough to cause great stress. If you successfully call your lender, call it a win and celebrate. If you stay under budget for a month and can pay a little more towards your loans, celebrate even bigger. Pay off a loan? Now it is time for a big celebration.
Why so much celebration?
For those of us that are not numbers-oriented people, there is little value in the typical steps taken towards paying off a student loan. Making a payment is normally more of a disappointing event than an accomplishment. Simply looking at a balance sheet doesn’t generate much satisfaction.
The problem with losing enthusiasm is that it makes a difficult journey even harder. If it doesn’t feel like you are making progress, you are much less likely to stay consistent with your plan.
Celebrating does not mean spending money
If you just paid an extra $50 this month towards your student loans, it doesn’t mean that it is time to buy a brand new tv or take a vacation. The celebration here far exceeds the steps taken.
The biggest mistake people make with celebrating student loan success is that they want to celebrate by spending money. Spending money to reward yourself for paying down debt is counter-productive.
Fortunately, there are several ways to celebrate without spending an extra dime. For many, spending time watching a favorite movie, playing an instrument, or listening to a favorite artist is a very enjoyable experience. Celebrate with guilty pleasure reality tv or favorite food. Treat yourself without breaking the bank.
The ultimate goal of all of this celebration is to build good habits. If you start looking forward to making your student loan payment because it means a treat, you will quickly find your debt is a little bit more manageable.
A Plan of Action
Make a list of all the things you “have been meaning to do” with your student loans. It could include little steps like calling your lender or setting up your budget. It can also include bigger steps like refinancing at a lower interest rate or figuring out a repayment strategy.
Once you have a list of all the things you want to accomplish, write down the rewards that you can earn for each success. Writing it down may seem silly, but there is something about putting pen to paper that makes it feel more real. One of my favorite methods of tracking progress and rewarding yourself is the door of student debt.
Finally, get others involved. Have your mom cook your favorite meal to celebrate your first month under budget. Have your significant other prepare a surprise for you if you get your repayment plan squared away. Student loans can be deeply personal, but if you get others involved and invested in your success, you are far less likely to fail.
Rewarding yourself for every little step taken with your student loans may seem a bit ridiculous at first, but it works. You will be amazed at how you can squeeze out some extra money each month as long as you are properly motivated.