To pay off $500 in six months, you’d need to put $83.33 per month toward the credit card bill. That’s $20.83 per week. Think about what weekly or monthly expenses you could cut or or lower to free up that amount.

If you review your budget and find that there is nothing you can cut or lower, review it again with a few frugal friends to see if they have any suggestions for you. If you still cannot come up with the extra wiggle room to make your goal, then you either need to extend your goal’s end date or you need to find an additional stream of income.

4. Check the Map Regularly

If you’re driving to a new-to-you destination that is many miles away, you will probably consult your map often to make sure you’re on the right road and haven’t made any wrong turns along the way. You need to do the same with your financial goals.

Set up a bi-weekly or monthly accountability meetings to review your goals, chart your progress, and consider if you need to make any course corrections. It’s much better to determine early on that you’ve made a wrong turn, than to take the wrong highway for an hour only to end up having to backtrack once you finally discover your mistake!

5. Celebrate the Mile Markers

Don’t forget to celebrate the milestones along the way. Plan a party or go on a special family date every time you pay off a credit card. Put $5 in a special “Family Vacation” fund jar every time you save another $50 dollars in your savings account. Or, maybe make a commitment as a family that if you all stick to the budget for an entire month, everyone gets $10 in “blow money” to spend on whatever they want (be sure to budget this in, of course).

You’ll likely encounter many bumps, potholes, traffic jams, and unexpected road construction while you’re en route, but if you keep moving forward–even if at a crawl–you’ll achieve much greater financial traction than you could have ever dreamed possible!

Crystal Paine is a wife, homeschool mom to three, author of the best-selling book, The Money Saving Mom®‘s Budget, and founder of MoneySavingMom.com, a site dedicated to helping you maximize the mileage of your money. 

Publication date: October 19, 2012