Pay This Debt off First (or Last)

There’s no getting around it. Paying off debt can be really hard. It’s a financial sacrifice to throw extra money towards a debt when you’d likely prefer to use those dollars for other things.


But, to add insult to injury, some of us carry balances that hold a little more emotional weight than others. This is when paying off debt can reach next level difficulty, not just financially and mentally, but emotionally as well.


That is why it’s occasionally important to consider the emotional weight your debts carry when prioritizing them in your debt elimination journey.


As we continue our debt series, breaking down 5 of our favorite debt payoff methods, today we are doing a deep dive into the “Emotional Heaviness” strategy. Spoiler alert: It’s not the most mathematically efficient way to pay down debt and, therefore, can be excluded or even looked down upon as a debt payoff method.


My thoughts, though, are that if prioritizing or putting on hold a particularly triggering debt is the inspiration you need to get from start to finish, then you absolutely should. No shame. No guilt. The point is that you persevere to the end. You’re the boss of how you reach the finish line.

Here are a few hypotheticals:


  •  You went into debt for a purchase that you especially regret.  


  • You’re coming out of a difficult divorce and have some lingering debt from your previous marriage.  


  • You’ve won the battle over a serious illness but the road to recovery was costly and followed you home in the form of medical payments.  

While this list isn’t exhaustive, and some people’s emotions might be more or less affected by them, they’re a few examples of debts that might carry some particularly triggering weight. So, how do you implement the Emotional Heaviness strategy into your path towards being debt free? 


First, I’m assuming that if you’re paying down your debt, you’re kind of irritated by all of it to some degree.  But, there’s a difference between a general irritation versus something that stings in an especially painful way. 


If you have a particular balance that causes you extra anxiety, sleepless nights, shame, or any other substantially negative emotions then it’s probably a good sign that it needs some extra attention. This is especially true if the thought of paying this debt off (or not paying it off) is hindering you from any sort of forward motion.  


If you’ve determined that you do indeed have some emotionally heavy debt, here are the next steps I recommend taking…

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  • Start by determining a foundational debt payoff method to work off of.  You can find a list and brief description of our favorite debt elimination strategies here


  • Next, list out and prioritize all of your debts based on your chosen method.  


  • Third, give yourself the freedom to move that emotionally heavy debt to the front or back of the line even if it deviates a bit from your foundational plan.


  • Lastly, commit to your plan and put it into action.  

It bears repeating that there is no shame or guilt with taking a less “logical” or mathematical approach when necessary.  All that really matters is that you persevere to the finish line and that journey is going to look different for everyone. It might also be worth your while to bring an expert alongside you. We have coaches on standby who would love to talk through the complexity of your situation and encourage you to the finish line while giving you specialized advice along the way.  If that resonates with you, go ahead and schedule a complimentary call with one of our coaches today.  We’ll do a deep dive into your situation while discussing a plan that will propel you towards reaching your goals. 

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