This One Mental Trick Will Make Paying Off Your Debt Feel Easier
Life happens. And sometimes when life happens, you accumulate debt. This can be an exciting thing, like if you purchased a home and now you have a mortgage. It can be a stressful occurrence, like if you were once less responsible with your purchases and now you have a credit card to pay off. And of course, it can fall anywhere in between and envelope a whole swathe of emotions: student loans, medical debt, taxes.
But the reality is most of us have debt: According to reports, U.S. consumer debt is at $13.51 trillion. And for many of us, that debt causes a significant amount of anxiety, given a recent poll from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) shows that two-thirds of Americans are stressed about their finances, like paying bills. So while this trick won't solve everything, it will bring new perspective to your debt, hopefully making it feel more meaningful and like less of a burden: Rename your debt.
What does this mean? According to financial therapist Bari Tessler, it's just the simple trick of stopping calling debt, debt. Instead, rename it as a word or phrase that reminds you of the positive reasons that you spent the money in the first place. "For some people, it's out there, but for some people, it's what gets them ready and willing to sit down and do their bookkeeping. This is their own life and reflects something that they are trying to create for themselves," says Tessler. "Plus, it helps you put judgment to the side. We all have ideas on how we think we should be spending money, and we are allowed that."
This isn't an excuse to be reckless, of course. You need to be responsible with debt, as it can bring dire consequences. But if you've found yourself in one of those "life happened" situations, you don't have to beat yourself up over it.
For example, if you have student loans but they lead you to a career that you love that leaves you fulfilled—consider calling it your "dream job loan." If you purchased a home for your growing family, call your mortgage "family stability." And it doesn't have to be these big momentous occasions, either. You can do this for simple credit card debt as well. Go on vacation that put you in the red for a few months as you were paying it off? Call it "mental well-being." Needed to furnish a new apartment that is maybe a bit outside your means? Call it "nesting." It doesn't even need to be that specific. If you've accumulated debt because of a variety of occurrences, put it into perspective by calling it "life transition." Sometimes things don't go as planned, and your life needs to adjust because of it: That's OK.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.