What Is Debt Fatigue?

Debt fatigue occurs when a debtor becomes overwhelmed by the amount of debt incurred and the seeming futility of the debt repayment process. Debt fatigue may result in a debtor giving up on making loan payments and overspending again.

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Steps To Getting Out Of Debt

Understanding Debt Fatigue

Debt fatigue can happen when a large portion of payments go toward interest and the overall amount of debt owed does not appear to dramatically lessen as payments are made. Be it from student loans, mortgage payments, or credit card bills, working to pay off debt can feel like an impossible obstacle to overcome.

Experiencing debt fatigue may eventually cause a debtor to declare bankruptcy as a last-ditch effort to resolve the situation.

Key Takeaways

  • Debt fatigue refers to the feeling of hopelessness and depression that overcomes a debtor when their debt can seem insurmountable.
  • It may result in the debtor overspending again to incur more debt and becoming trapped in a vicious cycle.
  • Debtors can combat debt fatigue through smart planning strategies.

Debt fatigue may cause a debtor to feel depressed, burned out, and hopeless about the debt repayment process. Because it can often take years or even decades for debtors to repay their loans, it is easy to hit a wall, especially if a debtor has already made significant cutbacks to their lifestyle and spending habits to stay on track.

One of the worst and most immediate effects of debt fatigue is that the debtor may start to overspend and incur more debt again. Increasing the debt load will not help a debtor's financial situation and is likely to drive the debtor to insolvency.

To make debt fatigue less likely to occur, a debtor should make efforts to stop incurring additional debt and make a realistic repayment plan that allows the debt to be fully repaid as soon as possible.

By not dragging the debt out for any longer than necessary, the debtor will start seeing more dramatic results of the debt repayments sooner, preventing them from becoming overwhelmed by the overall debt burden.

Example of Debt Fatigue

Let's say Jamie took out a student loan to pursue her MBA. Subsequently, she applied for another loan to save on rent payments post-graduation by purchasing an apartment. In total, her debt commitments came up to $450,000. She makes monthly payments of approximately $1,000 to service her debt from her job after business school.

To avoid defaulting on her payment schedule, Jamie saves on luxuries, skimps on vacations, and avoids going out with her friends. After 10 years of making those payments and living a relatively frugal lifestyle, Jamie starts suffering from debt fatigue. She feels left out of her friends' conversations and is tired of thinking twice before spending her salary.

Frustrated with the state of affairs in her life, she snaps and starts spending lavishly, eating out, and taking expensive vacations with her credit card. But her spending spree results in massive credit card debt.

How to Combat Debt Fatigue

Overcoming debt fatigue requires planning, persistence, and endurance. Those facing large debts should create a strategy for beating it as soon as possible, such as the debt avalanche and debt snowball methods.

Because debt often feels like it will last forever, a debtor should focus on the reasons they want to be out of debt and their goals for life after debt. It can also be helpful for a debtor to set small goals and budget to allow themselves a small reward, like dinner out or a movie with friends, whenever they reach a milestone.

Because owing large debts is extremely common, if a debtor has friends and family in a similar debt situation, they might consider banding together to help each other remain accountable.