We hear a lot about how yo-yo dieting can cause problems with weight gain. Each time you drastically diet in order to hit a weight loss goal, and then finish the diet, the weight comes back faster and in greater amounts.
In some ways, debt can be like a yo-yo diet. You might aggressively pay down the debt, but what happens when you finish paying it off?
Many people who have paid down debt quickly find themselves back in debt again later. Part of the biggest issue with staying out of debt once you pay off your obligations is the fact that you haven’t really tackled the root cause of the debt.
When you’re caught in a cycle of yo-yo dieting, you aren’t actually changing your daily, regular habits. Instead, you end up viewing the weight as the problem, and you make unsustainable changes to your routine in order to reach a specific goal. Once you reach that goal, you revert to your old behaviors because you are unable to keep up with the drastic changes you made to lose 10, 20, or 30 pounds. Pretty soon, you find yourself regaining all that weight — and then some.
In some cases, debt can have the same problem. You might aggressively tackle your debt, paying off a few thousand dollars in a short period of time. It feels really good to reach that goal, but have you really changed your money habits? Some of the extreme strategies you employ to tackle your debt might not be sustainable in the long term. Old habits re-assert themselves, and your debt comes creeping back. In some cases, it can come back bigger than ever.
Smaller, Lasting Changes
As I fight with my weight yet again, I’m taking a different approach. Instead of aiming at a weight goal and doing what it takes to reach that goal in the shortest amount of time, I’m slowly changing my habits. I’m adding more exercise to my regimen. I’m slowly replacing some of my nutritional choices.
These smaller changes mean that my weight loss is proceeding at a slow rate. However, it also means that I am more likely to maintain better health over time. Because I’m changing my habits to tackle the causes of my yo-yo weight situation, things feel different this time. I feel like I’ll be able to stick with the changes I’m making because they aren’t huge. They are more sustainable over time.
You can take a similar approach with debt. Smaller changes can help you make the most of your money, and reduce your debt at a sustainable rate. You might not be able to claim dramatic results, but you are more likely to have better long-term financial habits. Small changes to the way you approach your money can add up over time, and they can also be more sustainable, allowing you to stick with them, rather than losing your resolve later.
In the end, getting off the yo-yo cycle requires making changes to your lifestyle. Once you change your lifestyle in a sustainable way, you are less likely to give up down the road.