It can be challenging to find the balance between paying down debt and living life. For the most part, we tend to associate happiness and pleasure with spending money.
None the less, paying off debt is essential to enjoying life and reducing stress. We often underestimate the impact debt has on our overall mental wellbeing.
Here are a few tips that helped me get on track without sacrificing on life.
Don’t live on rice and beans
You’ve probably been told or read a number of articles that advocate a life of restraint until everything is paid off. Personally, I don’t think this method is realistic.
You might be able to swing it for a short while but depending on how much you owe, it could take months or even years to pay down. Are you really willing to live miserably for that long? I know I couldn’t and I didn’t.
You can’t afford to wait to be happy (pun intended).
All though I’m not advocating a life of indulgence, sometimes you just have to live a little. Never indulging is an extreme just like overindulging. Aim for moderation!
I personally couldn’t give up sugar or chocolates (yes, I am totally addicted to all that ‘good’ stuff). Instead, I aim to have a more consistently balanced diet. I have the occasional desert but I don’t binge on or ban sugar.
The same goes for paying off your debt. It’s fine to splurge once in a while if splurging means living. Do what brings you happiness.
If you keep stopping yourself because of debt, eventually, you’re going to break. You’ll either binge (and spend way more than you would have had you only splurged occasionally) or you’ll be perpetually unhappy. Regardless, it’s not a healthy option in the long run.
More often than not, banning spending can mean losing out on opportunities. Sometimes the unexpected comes out of things which cost money.
Take for example going out to dinner with a group of friends and meeting someone who could change your life (on a personal level or in your career). You never know who you might meet, the things you might do, and how those might change your life.
If you never do anything because you’ve prohibited yourself from spending a cent then you certainly won’t get any of these opportunities.
Know when to spend money
There’s a line between splurging and spending. Be careful not to cross it. You might be digging yourself even deeper into the hole.
Trust me when I say deep down, if you are truly honest with yourself, you’ll know the answer to whether you should or should not be spending money on something.
It’s sort of like having a little devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other.
Problem is, we tend to want to listen to the little devil and ignore the angel. The devil is more fun and in the moment. You want something, you buy it.
In the long run, though, you’re doing yourself a disfavor. You’ll end up being disappointed in yourself for your lack of self-control and even more stressed out because you’ve spent money you should have put against your debt.
So the big question is:
“What can I splurge on? How do I determine where the line is?”
Think of what you want.
Is it something you’ve just got an urge to do?
Or have you been aching to do it for some time? Are you passionate about it? Has this made you happy in the past?
Do you think it will brighten up your day, your week?
Or will that joy leave as quickly as it came?
Is this just something you want in the moment? Are you likely to forget about it in a few hours?
If you are honest with yourself in answering these questions, it should be pretty clear what you should and should not be splurging on.
Check out 4 tips if you’re behind on bills it will give you more advice on getting a handle on your debt and digging yourself out of the hole.
Get yourself some side hustles
One of the fastest and easiest ways I paid a good chunk of my debt off with was selling stuff I didn’t need or want anymore. You’d be surprised the things other people see value in where you might not.
Check out my post on How to easily make $1,000 in extra income each month.
If you’ve run out of things to sell, browse the Craigslist free section. Some good stuff comes up on there sometimes and that little bit of extra cash might make you feel less guilty about splurging.
Some other really easy side hustles include:
- Embrace the art of flipping. Check out how you can easily make $1,000 a month here.
- Become an Uber driver
- Food delivery
- Sign up as an Airbnb host and rent out your place
- Online surveys
Maybe you have a skill that you can leverage off of? Start contracting! It may not be very steady income but any extra cash is welcome.
Want some more insights on finding a side hustle that works for you? Click here for easy side hustles you can start for free.
Refinance with lower interest rates
If you owe money on your credit card, you’re probably paying the highest rates imaginable as far as debt goes. When money is tight, it’s easy to rack up the credit card paying for food and bills.
Problem is credit card interest rates are through the roof.
Most cards run at about 20% interest. You could get yourself a line of credit for closer to 7-10%. That’s less than half the interest!
If you’ve got a balance on your credit card you can’t pay off this month, get yourself to the bank and ask about a line of credit. Banks will generally be able to transfer your current credit card balance onto a line of credit.
Depending on the interest rates, you’ll be able to save yourself a good chunk of change each month. Well worth the effort of going to the bank!
Based on the kinds of other loans you have, you can always renegotiate the terms of your loans or find a different bank with better terms.
It’s easier than you think and more often than not, banks will give you what you ask for or something in between. You just have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone and negotiate.
Where there’s a will there’s a way.
I know it’s a little cheesy but there I truly believe that if you set your mind to it, you can get it. Be determined, you can pay off your debt without sacrificing on life.
It’s easy to get discouraged and honestly, life’s a bitch sometimes but no matter how shitty your current situation might feel, there’s always an upside and a way out. You just have to force yourself to see it.