How the Rubber Band Method Can Help You Get Out of Debt

By Jackie Beck   Updated 05/10/2021 at 8:52 am

I’m about to tell you something REALLY simple that can totally change your life.

It’s so simple that if I just tell you right out, you’ll probably roll your eyes and move on. But you shouldn’t.

So let me tell you a quick story first to set the stage…

I used to be a financial mess.

For years, I struggled to make ends meet. To pay off debt. To even just get my finances in some semblance of order.

Then I got divorced, and soon I was facing a job loss too. Things got worse. Basically, I was a mess.

I realized I’d better get my financial act together for my own sake and my son.

You know what happened? I started to actually focus on my money. I made it a priority instead of a wish.

And THAT made all the difference.

I was able to do a complete turnaround with my finances. (See our debt payoff story here.)

When you make something a priority and work on it every day, you make progress.

Sometimes you make more progress than you might originally have imagined.

Yeah, I know. Focusing is easier said than done.

It’s easy to get sidetracked with the little details of life. Maybe you’ve got this big project you’re working on right now. You’re really busy. Or you or a family member get sick. Something very stressful happens. Or maybe you’re just tired and want to relax when you get done with work.

So while you WANT to get out of debt, you put things off till tomorrow.

Things like “Make a budget” or “Track my spending” or “Make an extra $50 to send to debt this week” kinda fall by the wayside.

Unfortunately, years can go by that way without you making any progress. Don’t let that happen. Use this method instead.

What if you could be certain you were moving toward debt freedom everyday?

Wouldn’t it feel good to know that you’d done something positive? That you were getting closer to your goal?

And to do all that without it having to be this big huge deal that takes a ton of time and effort?

Enter the rubber band method.

It’s SUPER simple. (It was actually used differently as a parenting method, but it’s great for debt for several reasons.)

Here’s what you do. You put a rubber band on one of your wrists each morning when you brush your teeth. Pick a wrist and always start with the same one.

Then move that rubber band to your other wrist at any point before the end of the day by meeting one single condition.

How do you move the rubber band?

By doing something, ANYTHING, that will move you toward your goal of debt freedom. Even the littlest bit. You decide what that something is.

The key is to move that band each day so that you form a habit and make continual progress. (Even if you did multiple money-related things the previous day.)

It’s like a daily rubber band reminder of your biggest goal, and when you move it you’re essentially rewarding yourself for taking your daily step in the right direction.

Positive feedback and continual progress are a great combination. Soon you’ll be on your way to a habit of debt freedom.

Here are some sample actions you can use to move a rubber band:

  • Track your spending for the day, or even a single purchase.
  • Consider whether you want to continue spending that amount on that item, or whether you’d rather spend more or less.
  • Pay one or more of your monthly bills.
  • Automate a bill.
  • Enter the information for at least one debt into your debt snowball.
  • Send any extra amount toward your target debt.
  • Pick an expense you might want to reduce.
  • Make a call to cancel or reduce that expense.
  • Talk with a loved one or friend about something you’ll be able to do when you’re debt free
  • Celebrate the progress you’ve made so far (even if it’s just shouting “Woohoo!” and giving a fist pump like I used to do.)
  • Sign up for Digit.
  • List something for sale. (You can put the money you get toward debt, and you’ll have less clutter too.)
  • Add any amount to your emergency fund.
  • Decide not to buy something you don’t need.
  • Ask for a discount on something that you’re buying (even if it’s as small as a coffee) just to see if you get one this time.
  • Download this free budget form.
  • Fill out one or more items on the budget form.
  • Arrange a babysitter so you can talk to your spouse about why being debt free matters to you, and to find out how they feel.
  • Look at how far you’ve come already.
  • Bring your lunch instead of buying it (that’s a money success!)
  • Sign up for the (FREE) Debt Mindset Reset 7-day email course.
  • DO a Debt Mindset Reset action item for the day.
  • Look in the mirror and tell yourself “I only spend money I already have”. (This is a great one because you will ALWAYS have time to do it.)
  • Post a picture on your fridge or computer that symbolizes why you are working to get out of debt.
  • Look at that picture and think about how much it means to you.
  • Do anything at all that you feel is a step in the right direction.

You get the idea. The point is to pick something, do it, and move that rubber band each day!

So are you in? Comment below or share this post if so! (And move the band, because that counts as a step in the right direction too!)

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Using this rubber band method to help get out of debt is so simple!

17 thoughts on “How the Rubber Band Method Can Help You Get Out of Debt

  1. My philosophy is, whatever works for you in making progress on repaying debt, do it! Too many people procrastinate on tackling debt because they’re daunted by tracking spending, preparing a budget, not knowing how to get started or which debt to attack first, yadda yadda yadda. Anything is better than nothing! Just get started, right?

  2. I love, LOVE the list of small tasks, as well as the reminder rubber band for priming good decision-making. Awesome post. Sharing it on Facebook pronto. :)

  3. I’ve heard of using rubber bands to stop a habit, but it’s always sounded like a punishment to ‘snap’ the rubber band on your wrist when you catch yourself doing the habit. This is WAY more positive, and much more my type of thinking.

    Thanks for the tip! (*moves rubber band to right wrist for commenting on 1 blog post today!)

  4. If you do 2 good things for the day, do you just move the rubber band back to the original (first) wrist? –essentially just moving the rubber band back and forth all day?

    1. No, you just move it once per day. But if you take more than one step in the right direction on the same day that’s awesome!

  5. I just ran across your blog. Great ideas on how to get out of debt. I really like the idea of the rubber band and moving it from the debt wrist to the out of debt wrist when you do something to move closer to out of debt each day. I think that would help keep my focus on getting out of debt each and every day. I am a strong proponent of budgeting for everything and then being diligent in sticking to the budget. Budget the things you can tighter and use what is left over to pay off debt. Super post! Thanks!

  6. Hi Jackie, like the practicality and simplicity in the message. It keeps the process straight forward and in time helps build positive habits that will help you reach set goals. Every step counts.

  7. Your credit score can have a huge impact on your debt, because it ultimately determines the cost of borrowing money and your interest rates on your credit cards. The lower your score, the higher your interest rate, the more it will take to pay off your debts.

    1. But without any debt I really don’t care about my credit score. You do not need a credit score. I am debt free and have been able to do pretty much anything I was able to do before. It may take a few extra steps (i.e.: manual underwriting for a mortgage in the future) but all in all it has given me a better quality of life and lowered my stress level exponentially. Now when I get paid, my money is mine and I get to keep it, spend it, save it, invest it, make it work for me. Your best money making tool is your income. Get out of debt as quick as you can! Life gets simpler.

  8. I can see doing that if you used pretty stack bracelets not ruber bands that would look stupid and unprofessional in the work place.

    1. Of course you can use a stack bracelet (or anything really) instead to remind yourself. The point isn’t the rubber band itself, it’s making tracking your spending a daily habit.

  9. I like the rubber band idea. I am getting debt free by(1) refusing to buy what I do not really need. (2) paying what I have no choice about first – utilities, cable, auto loan, etc. then withholding what I absolutely need for food and gasoline. The remainder is divided among the credit cards. (3) the balances under $100.00 are to be paid off first each month out of that and then most of the remainder is put on the highest debt.(4) I never pay the minimum required. Even if I have only $5.00 to add. Looking at how longit takes to pay a dent off that way is a great icentive. All of the larger debts have been transferred to 0 interest deals and I divide them into equal amounts for the term of the deal. I am becoming debt free and it feels so good. I am retired with SS and a pension. Also I add at least $5.00 monthly to my emergency savings fund and all of the coins I have at the end of the day.

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