10 Mental Barriers to Paying off Debt: You Don’t See the Point in Asking for Help

rfz_mental_barriersAt the start of The Debt Movement, we introduced the topic of mental barriers that prevent us from paying off debt. Why? Because even the best-laid plans can fail and, when that happens, we’re left to wonder what to do about it. The fact is, good intentions and solid planning are important but they won’t move us forward without self-awareness. So for the rest of The Debt Movement, we’re going to talk about each mental barrier that prevents us from paying off debt so they can be conquered once and for all. Remember, there’s a lot more to securing a solid financial future than simply crunching numbers in an Excel spreadsheet!

Mental Barrier Number Ten: You Don’t See the Point in Asking for Help

Do you ever think you might tell a friend about your debt and then think, “What’s the point. They won’t even understand”? What about the idea of seeking help? Have you ever gotten close but then thought, “there’s nothing anyone can do to help me”? If yes, then you’re encountering a mental barrier which could actually prevent you from reaching your debt payoff goals.

I completely understand how you feel. Admitting to debt can feel embarrassing, shameful even. And we often feel that, because we got ourselves into this situation, we should also get ourselves out of it. But forget all of that! Debt has unfortunately become a way of life for many – before they even realized it was happening. There’s no reason to feel shame and no reason to isolate yourself. Now, let’s talk about how sharing your debt story can actually help you pay off your debt.

Why You Should Seek Help: Support

The first reason sharing your debt story can help you reach your debt payoff goals is because of the fact that you will inevitably receive emotional support from your loved ones. Sometimes we hold on to our debt secret for so long that we forget how much of a burden it became. Then, when we tell people we are usually met with an outpouring of support and a feeling of weight lifted off our shoulders.

I can speak from experience on this one. The minute I told my friends I had debt, everything changed. Gone were the days of them being frustrated if I would say no to dinner out. They suddenly had an intimate understanding of my financial standing and did everything they could to help me strategize ways to pay it off and help me stay motivated along the way. The funny thing is, other friends with debt would even start asking me for help too.

It’s true. When you admit to your own debt, you will find that your loved ones quickly share their own debt stories. It’s almost as if we’re all just waiting for someone to come out with it first so we can all feel comfortable talking about it. And just like other goals such as eating healthier or becoming more active, the more you talk about it with your loved ones, the more you can all help each other reach success.

Why You Should Seek Help: Strategy

The second reason sharing your debt story can help you reach your debt payoff goals is because it allows you to have more people to help you strategize. There are many ways to pay off debt and there may even be some strategies you’ve never heard of!

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For example, you could try the debt avalanche method, in which you pay off your highest interest rate accounts first, the debt snowball method, in which you pay off the smallest amounts first, or some combination of the two. You could also try biweekly payments, which would allow you to split your monthly payments in half and could take years off the life of a long-term loan.

The point is, with so many methods to paying off debt, it’s not always easy to know where to start. But you don’t need to have a financial planner to figure it out. Share your story with others to find out what worked for them, what didn’t work, and gather both practical information and emotional perception to choose the best strategy for you. Two heads are better than one!

At the end of the day, admitting to debt and even asking for help can be the hardest steps to take. But the emotional support you’re bound to receive, combined with the help you can seek in strategizing debt payoff methods, will allow you to view your situation in a totally different light. It’s like taking a step back and seeing your situation for the first time – giving you a clearer vision and renewed motivation. So tear down that emotional wall and share your debt story – your future self will thank you!

This is the conclusion of our 10-part series on The Mental Barriers to Paying Off Debt, created to help participants of The Debt Movement, the ReadyForZero Community, and YOU reach your debt payoff goals. Visit this post to view all ten mental barriers and what you can do to break them down.

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  • John S @ Frugal Rules

    “I can speak from experience on this one. The minute I told my friends I had debt, everything changed.” I too experienced the same basic thing when I was in debt, which was great to have the support needed. It wasn’t until I sought out help that I actually became serious in attempting to pay off the debt.

    • Shannon_ReadyForZero

      It’s amazing isn’t it! I think we spend too much time fearing judgement from others and then it’s such a nice surprise to receive support instead. And then telling people also helps us stay accountable for our goals.

      • My girlfriend and I just met for coffee and were talking about our debt. It helps me feel better about my situation…being in so much debt can make you feel like a failure in a race you didn’t realize you were in until it’s too late. Great post!

        • Shannon_ReadyForZero

          Thanks so much and how great that you two were able to have a casual chat about your debt! It’s always great to hear about more people sharing their stories and using that as a way to stay encouraged!

  • William@BiteTheBullet

    I was waiting to see if it would come up, but it didn’t, so may I add one more to the list?

    You don’t have another plan for the money.

    I’ve seen it many times: someone is all elated at making the final payment on their car loan. Then panic sets in: what do I with the $500 a month I suddenly have? Invest it? What in? What if I lose all my money? How can I invest such a piddly amount? You mean I have to do that each month now?

    So they go buy another car… because “I know payments. I can manage that.”

    If you have a vision of what to do with that $500, it adds motivation to get rid of the debt, and when the big day arrives, you’re ready to make a seamless transition to the next act in the drama of your financial fortunes.

    • Shannon_ReadyForZero

      Thanks so much for mentioning this point William! You are absolutely right! We work so hard to pay off debt and then afterwards it can sometimes feel anticlimactic while we try to figure out what to do with the money that was being applied to debt payments. It’s absolutely true that having a plan for that money once you’re debt-free is an important component in making sure you stay that way. Plus, why let go of the positive momentum from all the changes it took to pay off the debt in the first place. Those changes can be used to increase savings, save for retirement, and so much more.

  • Christian Losciale

    Shannon,
    I have a few friends who really don’t understand what debt can do to them. Rather than ask for help or even do a little bit of research, they carry on bad habits like paying the minimum, carrying balances and applying for more cards!

    It pains me to tell them the truth. I’m glad RFZ did this series. I’ll have to share it with them.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

    • Shannon_ReadyForZero

      I’ve definitely been there before! I’m so glad that you found this series useful and I hope your friends do as well!

  • Mike@WeOnlyDoThisOnce

    The emotional drain of being in debt is so often overlooked; thanks for addressing this. Great post, Shannon.

    • Shannon_ReadyForZero

      Yes it is and you’re very welcome, Mike!

  • nctexasgal42

    I have been married for almost two years, and have known him for 6 years. During the time we weren’t together he would pay for almost anything I needed without any expectation of me paying him back. Now we are in this for the long haul and we haven’t even started to combine any money. I went to school and got 20000$ in student loans plus problems with my car…I feel all alone in this and it is debilitating.

    • Shannon_ReadyForZero

      Thanks for sharing your story with us and please know that you’re not alone in this! Talk about this with your spouse and strategize together for a plan to pay it off. Don’t forget to use tools like ReadyForZero and advice from great personal finance writers from around the web to help come up with solutions that work best for you.