Paying off debt is a major undertaking. It’s a huge commitment that requires planning and making sacrifices. Trust me, I understand.
My husband and I have dealt with student loans, car loans, credit card debt, you name it. It’s been quite the journey but we are finally getting ahead and enjoying the fruits of all our hard work.
We’ve had some really bad days. Sometimes it can feel like you’ll never pay off your debt and everywhere you turn, experts will be telling you to make sacrifices. The Dave Ramsey’s of the world will preach against dining out, going on vacation, buying a new car, and just living your life.
It’s not the nicest thing to hear but it’s completely understandable. In order to become debt free, you’ll have to cut back and live differently. You can’t continue living the lifestyle that got you into debt in the first place.
However, paying off debt can be stressful and draining. It’s important to hold on to some things for your mental health, comfort, and sanity. Here are 6 things you don’t have to give up to pay off debt.
Everyone defines “fun” differently, but depending on your preferences and creativity, it doesn’t really cost much to have fun so why cut it out just because you’re in debt?
Make a list of all the things you like to do for fun, then figure out how you can make some hobbies and activities more affordable. If you like to attend sporting events, you can look at tickets to see local teams instead of professional ones.
If you like bowling or going to the movies, figure out when the discount days to stretch your dollar. Go to free events in your area, get outside during the summer, or check out free or discount days for museums and the local zoo.
I’m not going to lie, during my aggressive debt pay-off days, I spent many nights at home even on weekends. I still made it fun by hosting friends and family, renting movies from the library, or playing video games with my son and husband. Our apartment has a pool so during the summer, we’d spend some afternoons there or ride bikes.
Many people believe that paying off debt means they have to lead an unhappy life. Some may fear that if they seem happy during this stage, they may not crave debt freedom enough.
Give yourself permission to be happy no matter what your situation looks like. Happiness is a choice and you are
free to be happy or miserable. Make the most of each day. Treat yourself every now and then, especially when you hit a financial milestone.
I like to adopt the concept of ‘enjoying the journey’. This involves having a more positive attitude and being grateful for the good and bad. Find happiness in the people and world around you and realize that your debt doesn’t define you.
Debt often brings a lot of stress and anxiety into your life. You will need to take extra good care of your body so it can deal with the stress.
Does this mean you have to run out and buy a gym membership? No. Do you have to purchase your groceries at fancy organic shopping marts? Nope.
You can still exercise and eat healthy meals without spending lavishly. Start by getting in more daily movement whether it involves going for a bike ride or taking brisk walks around the neighborhood. Be conscious of your portion sizes and incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet.
Be mindful that what in (or not in) your bank account doesn’t matter if you don’t have your health. You can’t provide for your family or be around long-term if you don’t take care of yourself first.
4. Your Dreams
Dream big. I know that sounds like a corny poster, but it’s true. Don’t ever let debt or any other obstacle stop you from going after your dreams. Money is a common dream-killer. Debt doesn’t have to be forever.
If your dream is to become an entrepreneur, realize that you can start an online business for cheap these days.
Even if you can’t afford to invest much in your dreams due to debt, start small and spend time doing your research and developing your skills. Volunteer or barter your time and services for resources or mentorship.
Get creative and only allow debt to slightly change your timeline and not discourage you from fulfilling your dreams entirely.
If you’re deep in debt, people may tell you not to even think about traveling. You don’t need to jump on an airplane and spend two weeks in a foreign country to have an adventure.
There are plenty of great adventures to be had. Look around you. Explore your neighborhood, go on a hike, stop by a national park or visit a family member in a nearby state.
You may be hustling hard to makes extra money to pay down more debt, but don’t forget to slow down and enjoy a few laughs. This goes right along with being intentional with your happiness no matter what.
Make sure you find humor and joy in your life. Laughter is a gift and it can be very therapuetic.. As Robert Frost once said, “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane”.
What’s the biggest sacrifice you’ve made while paying off your debt? What have you learned or discovered while paying off debt?
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