The psychological perks of paying off debt

A new set of temptations
A new set of temptations © jason cox/

After you put your last debt payment behind you, a new set of temptations will rush at you.

For one, your restored credit score will flag credit card companies, who will try to woo you with competing offers, says Dlugozima. The moment a new card application pops into Hildebrandt's mailbox, "I immediately throw it in the garbage," she says.

That kind of swift resistance is necessary to avoid the onslaught of temptations.

Stovall says the newly debt-free may feel enticed to celebrate their solvency by making a big purchase. But that's exactly the wrong move. "Whatever they did to pay off debt is really the new normal," she says.

Kinney recommends small treats when quarterly or yearly goals are achieved. It's important to celebrate success. "That way you're meeting the need to be rewarded along the process, and not building it up so you just want to go on a spending binge after you've paid off all your debt," he says.

For Hildebrandt, her biggest temptation "is to not delay gratification." Once her family emerged from debt, she couldn't help but notice all the things they needed. But instead of purchasing everything that came to mind, they made a list, prioritized and bought only the most pressing items within their budget.


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