How to Overcome Debt Fatigue

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If you are tired of having loans and more loans to pay or running from people you owe, or even the feeling of coming close to living on the streets because you always have close to nothing in your pockets, then you are not alone. Many Kenyans are constantly borrowing to make ends meet or meet certain lifestyle expectations – completely ignoring their debt level and/or spending recklessly. Most people have reached a point where they don’t even care anymore. They have reached that point where paying back the debt seems like a futile goal, and then their spending becomes more, and not less. This phenomenon is what we call “debt fatigue”. 

Debt fatique is sort of like being in a great depression – some huge hole of debt you just can’t seem to pull yourself out off. The miseary seems to be compounding everyday with no sign of a light at the end of the dark hole. It can make you lose all hope and just throw in the towel; start self sabotaging becomes the norm as you spend more and getting more into debt. 

Ways to Overcome Debt Fatigue

Since, the most drastic effect of debt fatigue is overspending as a result of deperation and hopelessness, here are some ways to bring sanity to your debt hysteria: 

1. Talk Yourself off the Ledge

Remember that you are not alone and that there is no reason for despairing, you can acknowledge that it is not a futile cause. The time to act is now!  Believe in yourself. Start paying off your debt slowly and stop borrowing. It is wise to become more frugal and evaluate all your spending so as to stick to necessities until you are debt free. As you do so, you will gain more courage and confidence to complete your goal. 

2. Share Your Debt Troubles

Remember the old adage: “a problem shared is a problem halved”. Part of the problem with debt fatigue is the mental battle it takes to get out of it. Tackling the feelings of shame and hopelessness will help you overcome. So, talk about your troubles with a trusted friend – someone who will listen and not judge you. Doing so, will help you feel less alone, less shame and give you the hope to carry on. Having someone who you can be accountable to, is key to get you out of debt. 

3. Create A Debt Repayment Plan

Make it as fun and as motivating as possible to track your debt repayment by using a progress chart. You can draw series of squares that represent amounts you pay off to fill a square, draw clusters of spirals or create a Pac-Man-esque game. To make it even more fun create a reward system for every mini-milestone you accomplish i.e. treat yourself out or spoil yourself to feel the taste of victory. It can take years to clear debt, so do whatever you can to keep yourself on track and motivated. Your future self will thank you. 

4. Pay Based on Interest Rate

Pay down you debt starting with the debt with highest interest rate, working your way down to the debt with lowest interest rate. To do this, first list of all the debt you have and rank based on interest rate – the highest, first and the lowest, last. Add in extra money to pay the high interest rate and don’t neglect the low interest debt at the same time. 

5. Pay Based on Amount Owed

If you feel the aforementioned strategy won’t get you where you want to be quick, then try paying off the smallest debts first and work your way to the largest. This is the Dave Ramsey method. To do this, list your debt based on how much you owe – the smallest to largest but don’t ignore the largest as well. You pay off the minimum payments on the debts, attacking the smallest debts with any extra money you free up from unnessary spending. This way, you will be able to pay off the small debts quicker, working your way to reducing your debt list to attack the big ones last. 

6.  Make the Most of Deals, Coupons, Gift Cards and Cash

Since you are determined to pay off your debt as soon as possbile, don’t forget to live a little too. Take advantage of deals, coupons, gift cards and cash that may come your way to splurge on yourself a little. Depriving yourself while paying off your debt will only take a toll on you and make things worse. Living a joyless existance, is allowing debt control and ruin your life.

Inspite of your current condition, don’t forget to live! 

7. Get A Side Hustle

Adulting is hard. It is even harder to take responsbility for your actions but also very fulfilling. If you are interested in increasing your income, you might want to consider to getting a side hustle that doesn’t require a lot of money to start. With the current economic climate in Kenya, side hustles are always a great idea. Though time-consuming and tiring, they can be very rewarding and are the best way to speed up the debt repayment process. 

Key Takeways: 

So, you are in debt! 

It isn’t the end of the world. Keep to the core truths – you are not alone, and you can survive this. Being debt-free isn’t a life without payments, its a chance of life with oppourtunities. So, don’t be ashamed to live within your means. Staying true to yourself and your current situation will help you cope better with debt fatigue and the fog will soon lift and free you. You will be fine. 

Go Forth and Conquer!


If you have any questions on your own personal financial situation or need help getting started, feel free to send me an email at [email protected].

Image credits: by Pixabay via Pexels

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Irene Makanga
Irene has an MBA in Finance and is an avid businesswoman, passionate about financial literacy.

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