When you start focusing all of your attention and energy towards paying off your debt, you might find yourself sacrificing more than you realize. This realization didn’t come to me until I was sitting up to the breakfast bar in my grandmother’s kitchen when I was visiting her one weekend. I was telling her all about the progress I’ve made on getting out of debt and while updating her on the recent events in my life. Then she made a comment that actually quite surprised me. She said,
“Well no wonder you’re feeling like you’re in the dumps! You haven’t saved anything for yourself.”
For the record, I wasn’t looking for any sort of pity or handout from my grandma. I was simply telling her like it was with a hint of sugar coating. But, I guess that just goes to show you can’t get much past a mother with experience.
I decided getting out of debt was more of a marathon than the sprint I desperately wished it were. Since that moment, I decided it was okay to do something for me on occasion to help keep my spirits up and not so down in the dumps. Here’s 10 tips, in no particular order, to help you have a life while paying off your debt:
Go To a Nice Place For Dinner
Going budget every time you eat out gets old. When I was in the mood to go fancy, I would avoid eating out during the week to pad my “Restaurant” budget so one night during the month I could afford the Melting Pots or Cheesecake Factories of the world.
It’s a simple thing, but helps you feel like your worth more than cheap food all the time.
Indulge Your Hobby
Hobbies are important I feel like. They keep us engaged when we have free time and often keep us learning and growing. For me, photography falls into this category and if you’re into photography, you know there is a certain joy that comes when getting some new gear to play with.
To pay for photography gear, I would try to underspend in my budgets to create a little surplus of cash I could set aside for something small I could add to my photo gear collection. I wasn’t buying new camera bodies or new lenses, but rather the smaller accessories.
Take A Trip
Go somewhere! Have fun! In the 2 years it took me to get out of debt, I went on 2 cruises. One to Alaska and one to Mexico. Cruises was a great way for me to get away and have an amazing time because so much is included and it was a price I could work towards.
To pay for my cruises, I started saving all the plasma donation money I was earning each month. With about 5 months of donations, a cruise was paid for and I could go guilt free! While this does mean I could go gotten out of debt sooner if I didn’t go on those cruises, but I wouldn’t trade those adventures for anything.
Get New Clothes
I’m not saying, “Go crazy and buy 3 new outfits!” But every few months, it’s okay to buy a new shirt or jeans or shoes. It’s okay to look like nice and fresh as opposed to those who had a slumber party at the city park.
Getting new clothes was factored into my monthly budget of “Shopping.” I always had to decide what was most important to spend that money on for that month, but I could justify a new piece of clothing if it would fit in the budget.
Host Dinner Parties or Game Nights
Getting family or friends over for the company, good laughs, and engaging conversations helps keep you human… and most importantly, emotionally balanced. If anything, get togethers like this will distract you from your current financial worries.
For me, I hosted a lot of these parties. Game night doesn’t cost me anything and dinner parties are a lot more affordable than eating out. If you’re buying food, that should be factored into your monthly budget of “Groceries.”
Buy Some Cool Tech
Technology might not be a priority or interest in your life, and that’s fine, but you can’t deny feeling a little bit cool when you’ve got a new smartphone or accessory to go with it.
I remember when the original Apple Watch was set to come out. I had been saving my plasma money like crazy as I would decide over and over what Apple Watch I would buy. When it finally came, I couldn’t feel more legit! Still no regrets about buying it.
Visit Your Family
Family relationships are important – even if they tend to go sour from time to time. Spending time with family is rejuvenating as you spend time with people who love you. Understand you. And most importantly, support you in your endeavors. Visiting them simply provides the opportunity to let them into your life.
The only cost I incurred to visit family was the gas in my car to travel a few hours. While my family and extended family never really knew much of the details, they were supportive and encouraging every time. They would get excited and cheer me on to keep going with my efforts to get out of debt. Getting out of debt would have been a whole lot harder had I not had a support system.
Spend Time Outdoors
Ever wonder why people need fresh air? Or a change of scenery? I think it’s to gain perspective and reset a little bit. You start to appreciate the beauty that is our earth and that regardless of where you fit into this world, you can soak up the same sun and enjoy the same sunsets and sunrises as everybody else.
Being outside doesn’t have to cost you any money – just your time.
Find Time to Exercise
This is one more thing you can do to take control of your life. So much of your personal health isn’t dictated by some external force, but rather your personal effort. More importantly, it is another vital element to living a balanced life to better handle stress.
The cost to exercise can be as expensive or inexpensive as you make it. However, if this is a priority and you’re paying for a gym membership, the cost of it should be factored into your “Bills & Utilities” budget since it’ll be reoccurring. My advice – keep it cheap. You only need access to equipment – not a personal trainer or nutritionist (at least not while you’re getting out of debt).
Get Some Sleep
Whether it’s a lot of sleep or a little sleep, just make sure that it’s good sleep. The kind of sleep you get each night will, in the long run, be a contributing factor to how you handle the events in your life. The events in your life will be processed through your emotional and mental states that are often recharged through a good night’s rest.
This shouldn’t cost you any money other than time to educate yourself on the changes you need to make so that you are sleeping the best that you can with that time that you have to catch some Z’s.