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Want to Pay off Your Debt Faster? Roll the Dice


Sounds like an unconventional idea, right? But before you think I’m advocating gambling or some other form of irresponsible behavior, consider this idea: You can pay off your debt faster (much faster) by making your efforts into a game.

During my quest to pay off my credit card debt ($14K in one year!), I employed a variety of strategies to get me closer to my goal. One of the best tactics I used was to make a game out of eradicating the balances. The thing with games is that most people play to win and it was no different in my case—the more debt I paid off, the closer I was to winning the game.  I was more motivated than ever to finally conquer the credit card debt demon.

When I made my final credit card payment in August of 2008, I had officially “won” the game: I was credit card debt free!

If you have debt you’re trying to pay off, consider some of the following ideas to help speed up your efforts. In this case, it’s absolutely true that the harder you play, the more you win.

Spell Out Your Goals

If you love words, perhaps you’re a fan of the game Scrabble. Much like how you use the tiles you’ve been dealt to create words and earn points in Scrabble, charting out your debt payoff goals gives you a clear idea of where you’re starting and where you’re going. It also helps you to understand what your options are and what you’re up against. Like those random letters you’re building words out of, setting and listing realistic, tangible goals can work wonders when it comes to paying off debt.

Reward Yourself

While it’s true that if you continue to overspend and fritter your money away you won’t make any real progress in paying off your debt, it’s also true that small, inexpensive (or free!) rewards can have a great impact on your motivation.

Consider the game of Monopoly. Perhaps you’re down to your last dollars and you’ve just squeaked by Boardwalk (which happens to have a hotel planted firmly on it). What happens next in the game? You pass Go—and you receive $200 just for doing so. How’s that for motivation to take another spin around the board? Who knows, maybe you’ll land on Free Parking and be handsomely rewarded for your determination! Remember this analogy when things get tough during your debt payoff journey—remember how it feels to have the resolve to just.keep.moving.forward.

Acknowledge Setbacks

If you’ve ever played Chutes & Ladders, you know that falling down a chute doesn’t mean the game is over. It simply means you’ve had a setback and you continue along until someone reaches the final square.

The same concept applies to your debt payoff efforts—there will be times when your best efforts might not be enough. There will be times where you make mistakes and “slide” back in your effort to pay off your debt. Rather than give up, dust yourself off and try again.

What tactics and strategies have you used to pay off your debts?

This post was written by Jen, a staff writer from The Happy Homeowner

Get Out of Debt


My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. And here I thought I was going to learn a new blackjack technique!

    In all seriousness, I am very competitive so, making games and competitions out of things are what motivates me. I make it a point to look at how much I was putting towards my debt each month and then think about putting that into investments that will grow and be worth more money in the future. That is one thing that really got me excited.

    • I love it–I’m the same way with challenging myself to keep improving my habits.

      Maybe some blackjack tips next time? 🙂

  2. Totally right about the game idea. If we make (most things) a game we do better. Human nature?

    • I really think so–it’s amazing what a bit of competitive energy can do for your motivation 🙂

  3. Love this post. Who doesn’t want to pay off the debts faster right? With enough determination and direct goals, this is never impossible.

    • Thank you! You’re exactly right–determination and direct goals are integral parts of successfully meeting your goals

  4. I used this similar “game” strategy to pay off my mortgage in 2 years. It works! But don’t forget the rewards. If you don’t give yourself rewards, you’ll lose interest.

    • Wow…that’s incredible; kudos to you!

      And yes–rewards are important for keeping your motivation high!

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