Make Paying Down Debt Easier and Fun (No, Really!)

You're more likely to do a thing if you're knee-knockingly terrified about it, right? Wait, no, that's utterly wrong. Yet that's probably how the vast majority of us feel about debt. You have every impetus to whittle it down, but it's easy to get lost. But what if you could gamify reducing your debt load?

Sean Pyles over at NerdWallet has laid out four steps that can give you some structure for addressing what probably feels like an insurmountable problem. His first piece of advice: Don't turn what you owe into the monster under the bed. Being clear about how much debt you carry can help you develop a strategy to clear it out.

Once you've got a number in your head, you can start breaking it down into smaller tasks. NerdWallet recommends a 50/30/20 approach: Half your income goes to necessities like rent and food, 30 percent is for you to spend as you wish, and 20 percent goes toward savings and debt reduction. (The site has a handy calculator for those amounts if you don't want to do the math.)

Now that you've got your rules established, it's time to challenge yourself and do the thing to achieve the goal. Keep track of how your spending and saving go; tell a story about it, gaming-style, if you want. Once you're in the groove, reward yourself for pulling off a win or sticking to your budget. Whether it's treating yourself to a fancy drink or adding a cool sticker to a planner, make sure you incentivize yourself.

Just as your debt can seem as intimidating as a final boss, lightening your debt load can feel kind of abstract while you're in the thick of it. Anything you can do to make it more concrete and more palatable will help you get it done. After all, if it were easy, everyone would do it — so why not make it easy?