Today’s post title is based on our friend Kay’s comment on my last week’s post. When you’re working toward serious money goals, it can take work to find balance between spending and not spending. I think this is especially tough for those in more serious debt situations. In our case, we started out with a 65% debt-to-income ratio and consumer debt that equaled……well, a LOT of money.
It was tempting to throw in the towel and file bankruptcy but we chose to work our way out of it. This has been the tougher of the two choices by far. Bankruptcy would’ve been much easier because within the span of a few short weeks the game would have been done and we would’ve been out of debt.
Choosing to pay the debt off has been hard. We’ve been on a super tight budget. So tight that we’ve fallen off the wagon a few times and gone back into debt due to unexpected expenses. We’ve had to endure people we considered friends condemning and criticizing us for getting into debt and internet trolls doing the same. It’s tough to deal with people criticizing you when you’re working to fix your mistakes. It’s tough to forego entertainment options that cost money because you want and need to put that money toward debt.
However, money isn’t everything and a balance can be achieved, even in the tightest of financial situations. There are many ways to enjoy life every day while working on money related goals. This is the balance that we at Fruclassity like to tout. Yep, you could sell every worldly possession and move within walking distance of work and live in a barely-fit-to-be-lived in home in order to get out of debt faster. You could survive on several years of ramen noodles or rice in order to kick it big time.
If this is you and you’re okay with that, kudos!! I find that highly impressive, but the truth is that the extreme method of debt repayment just doesn’t work for everyone. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t make some serious effort to pay off your debt. If you’re not making serious effort, then you’re really not trying very hard and you need to question how badly you want to be debt free.
If you’re looking for balance, here are some tips for enjoying every day life while working on your financial goals.
Make Sure Your Budget Includes a Plan for Debt Freedom
Work out a debt snowball kind of a plan and get the ball rolling with debt payoff. Without a plan, you’ve got nothing. A plan will help you to be putting serious work toward your debt. With the debt snowball plan, you can kind of put your plan on autopilot. You just make the scheduled payments and get on with life.
Track Your Spending
This is my #1 rule for debt payoff. If you’re not tracking your spending, it’s way to easy to waste your money. It’s way too easy to forget about the little purchases that can add up to big bucks. If you’re not willing to track your spending, it could mean that you know you’re spending when you shouldn’t be and you should question your seriousness about debt payoff.
Sit Down and Have a Serious Discussion About Value-Related Expenses
Our budget is pretty tight:
- We rarely go out to eat (by rarely I mean once a month at the most).
- We buy clothes only when necessary – and then we work to get them at the lowest possible price.
- We stick to a strict grocery budget (roughly $65-$80 per month per person)
- We don’t buy stuff for our home or vehicles unless necessary
However, there are some purchases that hold high value to us and we refuse to compromise on. One is our pets. While extremists in the area of personal finance often tout giving away your pets, we won’t do that. They are members of our family and are important to us. We also choose to let the kids have one extracurricular activity in the area of sports.
Every person/family has things that cost money that are important to them; more important than dumping debt. If you want to enjoy every day life while paying off debt you need to narrow your list of expenses down and have a serious talk about what you’re willing to compromise and what you’re not.
Again, this has to be taken seriously. “Everything is important” isn’t the right answer. Not if you really want to get out of debt. Sacrifices have to be made; anyone who has successfully dumped debt will tell you that. When it comes to expenses – especially with kids – don’t make spending decisions based on what other people spend on or based on whether or not your kid will be liked or will like you. The very best gift you can give your kid when it comes to money is financial security so that they don’t have to support you when they’re older or move because you’ve lost the house.
Remember What You Truly Value
If I were to ask you to make a list of what you truly value in life, I’m betting it would go something like this:
- Friends and loved ones
- Everything else
What truly matters to most people if they’re being honest is being able to spend time with the ones they love. This does not have to include spending money. Or at least not very much money. Some of our very favorite experiences this summer have included having friends and/or family over to sit around the bonfire in our backyard and laugh and talk. Or bike riding at a nearby state park. Or swimming and playing at the local beach.
It’s togetherness that counts, and togetherness doesn’t have to include Disneyworld or spendy clothing or ridiculously priced iPhones or fancy cars.
You can have fun each and every day while paying off debt. It’s about getting a good handle on your true priorities while being serious about dumping debt. It’s about attitude. Think positive. Don’t view debt payoff and monetary sacrifice as a bad thing; think bigger. Remember that those short-term sacrifices are leading you to a much better place from a financial standpoint; a place where you no longer have to worry about money. That’s good stuff. 🙂
How do you have fun every day while working on your financial goals?