Paying Off Debt Is Easy

why it's hard to pay off debtPaying off debt is easy. In fact, it’s one of the easiest things on the planet, at least conceptually. Just like with losing weight, saving for retirement, or making sure your mortgage doesn’t leave you house poor, paying off debt is a matter of numbers. Anyone with elementary math skills should have the ability to stay debt free. If paying off what we owe is so easy, why on earth are so many people drowning in debt?

The Easy Part of Paying Off Debt

If you know how much you owe and how much you make, plus all your monthly expenses, all you have to do is plug your numbers plus any applicable interest rate into a debt payoff calculator. That will tell you how long it will take to pay off debt. You can even play around with different payments until you find the term you want. Easy as pie!

The Parts of Getting Out of Debt That Aren’t So Easy

It’s Hard To Admit You’re Wrong

I think Jim and I both wanted to be out of debt long before we made any effort to get there. You see, before we had any hope of being out of debt, we had to take a long hard look at our lives and realize we were doing it wrong. Everything society and many of our friends and family told us was wrong. Even though we have 16 years of college education between us, we were not smart enough to know we had it wrong. Until you realize you are wrong and make a decision not to be in debt, you’ll never make any progress.

It’s Hard to Change Your Lifestyle

If you are in debt, it’s probably because you spend more than you make or have made bad financial decisions in the past. We get used to instant gratification, eating out, and having new things every month. Accepting that you need to cook, use your stuff until it wears out,  and that you need to have money in your account before you actually buy something takes a bit of getting used to.

It’s Hard to Find More Money

As we said above, when you’re used to conveniences, it’s hard to decide what to cut out of your montly spending. Should you cut cable? new shoes? the gym? coffee? your kid’s karate lessons? going on the annual summer trip with your in-laws? Do you cut some or all? If you decide to earn more money, it’s hard to find motivation to use what little free time you have for more work.

It’s Hard to Say No

If you’re used to going out with friends or buying nice presents for you family members’ birthdays, it’s really hard to say no when a spending opportunity pops up. It’s hard to say no to your kid when they want to do or have what every other kid seems to have. Sadly, there probably will be people in your life who don’t share your desire to change, and they will try and pull you back into the lifestyle of debt. If they really understood, then that might mean they are wrong too. As we said before, that’s hard.

It’s Hard To Overcome Setbacks

Inevitably, once you start paying off debt, you’ll have unexpected things that will set you back. One trip to the ER, one car repair, or one leaky roof can suck up your debt payoff money like an Oklahoma tornado. It’s easy to let that be your cue to start spending again. You’ll feel like saying “What’s the point?” or “I just can’t get ahead.” You can, but it’s really hard to start again after a wipe out month or months.

It’s Hard Not To Blame Others

Since it’s hard to admit we’re wrong, we often blame all kinds people or things for why we are in debt. Whether it’s your job, your boss, you health insurance or lack thereof, the stock market ,the banks, credit card companies, your family, blah, blah, blah. Does it really matter what choices led you to this point, even if they were beyond your control? Sorry John, but we have to be like Elsa from Frozen and let it go. If you truly want to be out of debt, you have to stop blaming and take responsibility for yourself. Dwelling on what could have been will kill your chances of what could be in the future.

There Is An Easy Part

After you get the ball rolling on your debts, seeing the lower balance every month becomes your reward. While there are always obstacles and devils on your shoulder, the longer you stick to your plan, the more it becomes habit. Somewhere along the line, you’ll learn an appreciation for money that you probably never had before. If you appreciate your money, you won’t spend it on stupid things that don’t add value to your life.

In a way, I’m very thankful for our debt because it made us become who we are today, people who don’t need to live paycheck to paycheck, keep up with the Joneses, or work until we drop dead.

What other reasons make it hard to pay off debt? Why don’t more people do basic math before buying something they can’t afford?



Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of


  1. I think it is very difficult to get out of debt when the money just isn’t there. I just read an article about these couples who got out of debt very quickly. A few of them had inheritances. To me, that does not count. Not all of us are fortunate enough to have relatives that are leaving behind large amounts of money when they pass on. I would rather much read about the couple who lived in their van for four years vs. the other. My own opinion.

  2. I agree that it is easy to pay off debt, providing the income is there. However, motivation I believe is very important. One of the problems today with the millennial generation is their heavy debt load. College costs are sky high and consequently high student loans. I recently read an article where two young physicians who are married just completed residency with $425,000 in combined student loans. Even for a physician, that debt will keep you awake at night.

    1. It certainly limits your choices if you have that much debt. You’re likely going to take whatever pays the most instead of being able to practice how you want.

    2. That much debt certainly limits your choices. You have to take whatever pays the best regardless if it’s how you want to practice or not. Nobody in optometry school has dreams of working for Costco, but if you are in debt and it’s $90k with no strings attached, that’s hard to turn down.

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