Celebrate Debt Reduction Milestones

Few celebrations are sweeter than those centered around accomplishment through sacrifice.

Sacrifice yields success

Simply put… Debt reduction takes sacrifice. It requires us to set aside immediate desires in favor of long-term piece of mind. It’s not easy, and we’re not robots. We run the risk of burn out, failure, tension with loved ones, embarrassment, and exclusion, but… The victory, and even the thought of victory, is just so damn sweet!

Even as I write this, I can already faintly taste it. It seems so far off, but I know that it’s within reach. I know that our plan, though not easy, will allow us to feast on our sweet victory over debt. I simply cannot wait.

From start to finish, the process of debt reduction is peppered with milestones. One of the ways to stay motivated is to appreciate and recognize each and every victory… No matter how large or small.

Celebrate your milestones

“…a milestone is the end of a stage that marks the completion of a work package or phase…”

In order to avoid burnout, it’s important to allow ourselves rewards for our accomplishments. This reward need not be lavish. Rather, it can be something as simple as a piece of your favorite pie (a la mode!) at the local diner, or that new video game your friends have been raving about.

Regardless of how you do it, celebrating each milestone gives you that small break you need to reflect upon your accomplishment, tease yourself with a taste of success, and then turn your attention and focus once again to the task at hand… Finishing the goal through completion.

Mrs. Jabs and I will most likely be paying off our Lending Club loan by the end of February. Once we do that, we’ll be left with two mortgages and two student loans.

How do we plan to celebrate the milestone? We’re not sure yet… But you better believe we’ll be living it up one way or another — without spending too much, of course!

Here are a few debt milestones reached from friends on Twitter:

  • @MoneyEnergy tweeted: “I just finished paying off 2 credit cards for good, with 1 left to go next month + 1 student loan. Celebrating with a budget!”
  • @TTaxChels tweeted: “Paid off all credit card debt. Celebrated with a woohoo!”
  • @RJWeiss tweeted: “Paid off our student loans recently. Celebrated by deciding to pay off our mortgage by the time we’re 30.”
  • @nomorespending tweeted: “We became debt free just b4 Christmas (£45k) no celebration just a feeling of a weight being lifted, this still with me now )

As you can see… Money is rarely a prerequisite for celebration! Especially among those dead set on paying off debt. Budgeting and paying off even more debt may not sound like a celebration to some… But this just goes to show what a great feeling one gets from destroying their debt!

A debt free goal and another huge milestone reached:

Nickel just paid off his mortgage. How did he celebrate?

“I kissed my wife and breathed a sigh of relief. Honestly, it hasn’t entirely sunk in yet, but hey… We’re done, so we don’t need motivation anymore! 😉 Truth be told, we’re going on a nice vacation this spring, and we’ll be basking in that fact that it’s being paid for by our lack of a mortgage payment.”

And guess what? Nickel isn’t the only one who’s hit a milestone recently.

Paul of FiscalGeek.com recently paid off an astounding $63, 535.65 worth of non-mortgage debt in just 11 short months! Paul and his wife decided to celebrate the same way they paid off their debt… Without spending any money! Here is what Paul had to say:

“We’re celebrating, but not in your typical fashion. Frankly, we don’t have two nickels to rub together right now because we really busted it at the end, so it just so happens that we’re celebrating via social media. Between Facebook, my blog, and Twitter we’re having a great time sharing our experience and celebrating with others.

The same day we paid off our debt also happened to be my son’s 9th birthday party, so we dovetailed with that celebration. We haven’t felt the need to spend any more money, as we’ve done plenty of spending over the years. Our reward is really knowing that all the extra money I find next month is truly mine! I’m so stoked about that.”

Immediately redirect cash flow

While your debt milestones should be celebrated, don’t screw around… As soon as you’ve blown off some steam, get immediately back into your plan.

If you still have debt, you may want to redirect all available resources toward the next debt of choice. If you’ve finally achieved debt freedom, you could redirect all your newfound resources into retirement savings, college savings for your kids, or giving it away!

Do whatever makes sense for you situation… Just be sure to keep your eye on the ball until you’ve met your goals.

What about you?

What was the most recent debt reduction (or other financial) milestone that you reached? And how did you celebrate?

9 Responses to “Celebrate Debt Reduction Milestones”

  1. Anonymous

    Celebrate by going back to work tomorrow to earn more money to pay more debts!! Ok, that isn’t very fun. I remember when I was paying off my debts, I made a list of them with their amounts and every month I would update the balance left.

    When I paid one off, I would celebrate by crossing it off the list. I know, pretty simple. But it felt really good!

  2. Anonymous

    We just paid off 2 major loans, a vacation, and next week we will add a student loan to the list! We have one student loan left to go and no more debt! We celebrated by opening a savings account to save for a house.

    Congrats to everyone on their successes!! I think this was a great post to do – sharing other people’s success. Makes me feel even more inspired!!

  3. Anonymous

    Okay, I admit it, I’m spending money! I have a healthy love of nail polish, so when these credit cards are paid off I’m buying 3 new colors. Then I’ll pay off my car. Then I’ll probably get a massage. Then I’ll pay off my student loans, but that’ll take another 15 years, so who knows what I’ll want to do when I’m 45??

  4. Anonymous

    Nicely said – don’t screw around once you’ve got your debt paid off – keep at it and redirect the cash. Boost your savings and emergency funds if they’ve been lacking. Fix the things that need to get fixed. Start a conservative investment plan. *Then* start planning for the fun stuff again. Remember, it’s just like healthy weight loss…. you don’t want to yo-yo!

  5. Anonymous

    Matt & Paul – Congratulations to both of you! Milestones are commonly used in heavy civil construction projects much for the same reasons.

    The front-end component of milestones is that it gives you a much closer, more reachable goal. Breaking down a large task saves tons of mental anguish. The back-end is just what you talk about here, a chance to celebrate!

    I had set a savings milestone for myself to be completed in Dec 2009. I reached it shortly after (this month) and plan to celebrate by continuing to blaze ahead!

  6. Anonymous

    Great post Matt and I agree 100%. These small celebrations were what helped us blast our way out, one credit card done, celebrate! Car paid off, celebrate! Saved your full emergency fund, go on vacation, that’s our plan!

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