Self-Limiting Beliefs about Debt and the Boogeyman



Note: due to the success of my first article Do You Have Self-Limiting Beliefs About Money?, and because I think our belief system can directly impact our ability to successfully manage our finances.  I thought I would follow-up with another post on self-limiting beliefs about debt. And how these beliefs can keep you from paying off the balance of your debt.


In my previous article, I discussed three common beliefs that will either put you in debt or keep you there.  The beliefs that…

  • Making more money is the only way to get out of debt.
  • Taking out a loan is the only way to buy a vehicle.
  • Not being very good with money is why you’re in debt.

All of these self-limiting beliefs have one thing in common – they are false. If you believe them you’re probably hindering your ability to become financially independent.



Self-Limiting Beliefs about Debt and the Boogeyman -pay off the balance



A Quick Re-cap On What Self-limiting Beliefs Are? And Self-Limiting Beliefs about Debt

Self-limiting beliefs are beliefs that may be established during childhood, through our work experiences, life events or the relationships we have with friends and family.  The beliefs are generally opinion based rather than fact-based. And are a result of a misunderstanding of a specific topic.  As time goes on these beliefs are reinforced by our individual emotions and behaviors, so the beliefs become stronger even though they may not be completely accurate.

Centuries ago the belief that the world was flat kept sailors confined to their own geographic locations. They only ventured out on to the ocean as far as they could see.  The fear of falling off the edge of the earth limited their ability to explore, and to experience different cultures and continents. Of course, the world isn’t flat and once this belief was demystified, explorers like Christopher Columbus and Hernan Cortes discovered new civilizations.


The Boogeyman – A Self-Limiting Belief

On a lighter note, and a bit more 21st century, when we are children the fear of the “boogeyman” and things that go “bump in the night” represent real fears and threats. These fears are our first experience with self-limiting beliefs.

When you were growing up how often did you jump from the bed to avoid being grabbed by the mythical beast lurking underneath? Or maybe, before you went to bed you made sure the closet door was closed so that whatever was inside couldn’t get out. 

Of course, over time we learn that the boogeyman is only a figment of our imagination and we overcome the fear because we learn to think rationally and differently about the belief. In addition, mom and dad helped reinforce the right emotions and behaviors to help us overcome the belief.

When it comes to money, some self-limiting beliefs can be detrimental.  Your beliefs about money may keep you in debt, not allow you to save money or keep you from making more money.  Overcoming these beliefs can be the difference between financial success or staying stuck in your current situation.

In addition to the three self-limiting beliefs I covered in my first article, here are two more that can negatively impact your ability to get out of debt.





There is Plenty of Time

This self-limiting belief is prevalent when we are younger and less experienced with money. It’s a perspective that somewhere down the road we will make more money, correct our spending habits and then get out of debt.

If you’re in debt, “plenty of time” allows you to forego the uncomfortable process of being frugal and budgeting your money. It allows you to avoid the feeling that you have to give something up.

At the end of the day, “plenty of time” is about procrastinating.

If you’re in debt you already know you’re paying high-interest charges that are probably crushing your budget. The monthly payments are forcing you to spend money you don’t have. In addition, your debt is probably creating a whole bunch of stress. It’s limiting your ability to really do the things you want to do.  It’s impacting your emotional well-being, the choices you can make, the opportunities you have.

Overcoming this self-limiting belief requires a different approach. An approach that comes from the perspective that although you have plenty of time, you want to make the most of it. And making the most of it isn’t just about money or time. It’s about improving the future and your overall lifestyle.

Being able to shift this self-limiting belief from one of “there’s plenty of time” to a belief that is more immediate and has a sense of urgency, something like –  “I am sick of all this debt and I want to get rid of it NOW!” 

It’s about looking beyond the negative financial impacts debt has and thinking about the other areas of your life. Areas that will be positively impacted when your debt free – your confidence level, your behaviors, the other facets of your life.


Related Post:


It Will Take Me Forever to Pay Off My Debt

Combine “forever” with “debt” and this self-limiting belief can single-handedly suck any positive emotions you may have right out the window.  And leave you thinking, why even try and get out of debt. Why even try to get started.

This self-limiting belief works like this. As you make your monthly payments on your debt you regularly see what you’re paying per month, the balance left to pay and the interest rate you’re paying  In your mind you do the math and realize it’s going to take a very long time to pay off the balance – forever.

If you have $5,000 in credit card debt and are making a minimum payment of $50 per month, in your mind, you calculate it will take at least 100 months to pay off the debt ($5,000/50, excluding interest) – that’s over eight years.

Receive $100 off the purchase of a new TV that would be great. Win $100 from a lottery ticket that would be awesome. Live to be 100 even better.

100 months to pay off your debt – not so good. In your mind 100 = Forever. Fortunately, this is a self-limiting belief can be easily overcome if you look at it from this perspective.

First, understand that regardless of how you got into debt, debt is never a lifetime sentence. You just have to be realistic about what you’re trying to accomplish.  You can’t spend five years racking up debt and expect to pay it off in two months. It will take some time, but it’s not forever. Setting the right expectation for yourself when your tackling debt is an important aspect of staying motivated through the process.

Second, understand the facts about paying off debt and how you can expedite the process of becoming debt free. For example, if you can pay more than the $50 minimum per month, here is the impact on $5,000 of debt.


  • $100/month = pay off the balance in 50 months
  • $125/month = pay off the balance in 40 months
  • $150/month = pay off the balance in 33 months
  • $200/month = pay off the balance in 25 months

To keep it simple I have not included interest charges in this example, however, the impact to expediting your debt payoff is the same. Pay more than the minimum and it decreases the years to pay off the balance. Calculate your debt pay off here.

As a means of expediting the payoff of debt I highly recommend using the Snowball Method.  It’s simple to understand, provides an emotional boost as you make progress and it debunks the “It will take me forever to pay off my debt” self-limiting belief.


Both of these self-limiting beliefs have a tendency to work together and inevitably create an environment where even getting started on your debt pay off plan can be a challenge. They both lead to procrastination, frustration and are an emotional brain drain.

However, remember this. Many have fallen into the debt trap and worked their way out and created their own financial independence – you will too. Don’t let these self-limiting beliefs keep you from getting started.


Helpful Resources:



Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck




How do you overcome self-limiting beliefs? Comment below.



Kevin is the owner of FTP and the author of the personal finance book series Filling The Pig. He uses his past successes and failures with debt, saving cash, investing and running home-based businesses to educate others about successful money managment and Creating a Lifestyle of Opportunities.


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