On Building Endurance: Debt Repayment Edition


You think about it all the time. You scrutinize over numbers. You fantasize about the future. If you’re in debt, it is at the very center of your universe. There is no avoiding it.

Paying off debt is exhausting.

While we personal finance bloggers sometimes like to glamorize paying debt off with pretty charts and progress posts (Hell, I do it), it is really exhausting.

A lady I am working with (who is only doing a temp fill-in) asked me over lunch one day how I have the time to ”do it”. ”Do what?” I asked. ” Make your lunch everyday?”. She proceeded to ask me about my day-to-day life. Making assumptions like I must have a cleaning lady to help or my house must be in perma-disaster mode. She, as a fellow mom, who was embarking in the work-force full time for the first time in a long time, couldn’t understand how I do it everyday when she, after only two weeks, was barely treading water.

She knows I’m a full-time working mom and wife and to her the fact that I can manage those two alone without going bat-shit crazy is amazing to her. She has no idea how hard I’m busting my balls to pay off debt too and anyone in the same situation knows exactly just how exhausting that is.

If only she knew the endurance I have developed. The tenacity to work my ass off.

Her view of my life is the easy part. She has no idea I stay up late at night and spend any free time on weekends working on my blog and freelance posts. For fear of blowing her mind to pieces of what a woman with a fire lit under her ass might do, I won’t tell her either 😉

But if I did try and explain how I do it all I don’t know that I could. Something just snapped inside me one day and there was zero looking back. We were going to deal with it and that was that. No one can tell you what to do, until you get to that point, you likely won’t be successful in your endeavors. Over time you build an endurance level when it comes to work that to others make you look like a maniac when in reality, you working that hard is worth it. I almost never get a lunch break, I told the receptionist my usual one-hour break was too much so over time she has shortened it to the point that 75% of the time I inhale food between patients and move on with my day. Before this endurance level I would be spitting fire if she didn’t give me at least a 45 minute break. Sleep is a luxury that I don’t get often. Small child aside, if I went to bed at a reasonable hour, her 5:30-6am wake-up time wouldn’t bother me but I stay up much later than I should writing posts just like this because I have to (and want to).

When you want something bad enough, debt gone, saving goal achieved, weight loss, you make it happen. The truth is, there is no secret formulation. You find a spark within you that you didn’t know was there and sustain yourself on the fuel for however long necessary.

I remind myself daily why I’m doing this and for me, my daughter’s smiling face is enough 🙂


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  1. Great article, Catherine! I feel the same way sometimes. It was worth it when my wife and I got out of debt and it will be worth it as we continue to build our wealth. I agree that endurance is so important. If we hadn’t built up the endurance and discipline to keep working at it when we didn’t want to, we wouldn’t be debt-free today. It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it! Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed the article.

  2. Saving goal achieved and weight loss are just one of my goals to reach. Sometimes, I feel that I want to give up, especially when talking about financial matters BUT my daughter is here with me, who always brought me smile and energy always. Good job Catherine for this lovely post!

  3. Great post Catherine and even better pic! 🙂 I could not agree more, if you want something there’s not going to be some special secret or formula – you just bust your backside to make it possible. It’s not easy, generally speaking, but you put your head down and do whatever it is to reach that ultimate goal.

  4. Endurance and hard work are two big keys to financial health. I am a working mom too who has limited time, but I make the time to save money because it’s a priority in our lives right now and I love that the time that I put into saving money, literally pays off for us in the bottom line.

    • Catherine says:

      Hard work is key. If you half ass something you can’t expect to get the results you really want.

  5. What a great post! I often get a similar reaction when people find out I work 7 days a week, and often work 2 jobs in one day. However, endurance truly does build up! Sometimes I want to quit a job or take a few days off, but when I see my debt decreasing quickly, it is totally worth it. (and seeing that gives me a new push to work my butt off a little longer!)

    • Catherine says:

      When I was in my third year of university I worked two jobs for a summer and it was brutal. I was working a minimum of 75 hours per week.

  6. GREAT POST! I have trouble sometimes sustaining the “spark” that makes me start new things. Any thoughts on how to do this? I certainly don’t want to loose the spark too soon this time, I really want my debt gone, but motivation can be hard to find when shoes, clothes, handbags, vacations, eating out and other non-frugal activities are calling your name.

  7. I enjoyed this post. I know exactly what you mean, everyone at work always goes out and buys their lunch and say I’m so disciplined. I haven’t really got a choice because I can’t afford to eat out. They think I’m mad taking on weekend work too but they don’t know I’m £14k in debt 🙁

  8. I couldn’t agree more! If you want it – you will find a way to make it work. Hopefully that little spark or whatever it is in you lasts – I’m currently trying to reignite mine.

    It seems funny though, that for this co-worker of yours making a lunch every day is a big deal. Unless you are being very elaborate, it takes maybe 10 minutes to make your lunch? I used to always go home for lunch because I had an hour, which I also found to be excessive (and I had a really short commute, even if I walked). I can only imagine her reaction if she knew the whole story!

  9. This is great! It just goes to show what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it. It will all be worth it!

  10. awe she’s such a cutie! I wrote a post called how bad do you want it? That answer is going to be different for everyone. I know I want a lot of things pretty bad, but I also know some things I won’t sacrifice (sleep, balance, exercise, healthy eating, etc.). It’s funny how it’s easy to make assumptions about one’s life! I’m sure I’m guilty of it too with other people.

  11. I’m all fired up now, Catherine! Way to excite us! Whoop whoop whoop. It’s kinda like, well if we’re gonna do this thing, then we’re gonna do it right! Your daughter is great motivation for sure and such a little doll!

  12. “For fear of blowing her mind to pieces of what a woman with a fire lit under her ass might do, I won’t tell her either” LOVE that, Catherine, and it’s SO true!!!! When you’ve got that motivation in your head, you do what needs to be done, come hell or high water. It’s a boatload of work, but I know when both of our families are debt free, we’ll say without a doubt that it was worth all of the sacrifice.

  13. Hard work definitely pays off, and my gosh you sound like a busy woman. Kudos to you for having a vision and doing everything in your power to accomplish the goal!

  14. This is so true — it is hard to start anything, but determination helps, and over time you build strength. We’re all in it for the long haul. Thanks for this post; it’s such a good description.


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