Have you ever heard financial advice that is basically “hurry and do absolutely whatever it takes to pay off debt as quick as you can, even if it costs your mental health and all of your relationships?” Essentially meaning, you can live your life later, once you are out of debt. For people like me who have six figure debt (or more!) you’re going to be paying off debt for a long time. No matter how many sacrifices you make in your budget, it is a simple fact that you are going to be paying off debt for years. And so, you run a pretty high risk of getting burned out if you aren’t careful. There is only so much time before you burn yourself out and burn important relationships in your life (which I’m guessing are probably actually more important to you than getting out of debt– but sometimes that is hard to remember).
Life is meant to be lived. Your current choices impact what kind of life you are going to live. And your former choices, such as going into debt, are now limiting your current choices. So let’s free you up from debt so you’ll be able to make the kind of choices you want to make in the future, but let’s do it in a careful way so that you don’t get burned out. Here’s how to pay off debt and still have a life.
YOU CAN STILL HAVE A LIFE AND PAY OFF DEBT. HERE’S HOW.
Redefine what “having a life” means to you.
The first thing you ought to consider in trying to balance having a life and paying off debt is exactly what “having a life” means to you. Because at it’s core I mean, if you are alive, you have a life. Does it mean going out every night? Could it mean going out regularly, like, once or twice a week? Does it mean taking expensive vacations? Could it mean using credit card rewards points or scaling back on vacations while you pay off debt? Put together a list of what having a life means to you, and think of ways you can scale those activities back in terms of expense, and not cutting them out entirely. [Related: How We Vacationed in New Zealand for 2 Weeks FOR FREE.]
Plan fun into your budget.
Another way to have a life when you’re paying off debt is to plan fun things into your budget. If you give yourself a little wiggle room to have fun, you’re more likely to stay on track. So create a budget category for fun but then here’s the tricky part– stick to it! Don’t go over budget.
Find ways to do things for cheap or free.
There are plenty of things you can do to have a life and pay off debt. Simply find things that are cheap or free. Instead of going to expensive concerts, for example, find cafes, parks, etc where local musicians are playing for cheap or free. Rather than going to an expensive restaurant with friends, have people over and have everyone bring a dish to share.
Make more money.
Another simple way to still have a life while you’re paying off debt is to start earning more money so that you can make extra debt payments while still having enough for a little cushion to spend on fun things. Here are plenty of things you can do to make money on the side.
Figure out what’s important to you.
The truth of the matter is, we are all on different debt repayment journeys. It might not bother you that much that interest is accruing on your debt and that you’ll spend more by paying it off a little slower than the person next to you. Or, if you’re like me, the fact that interest is accruing and you are spending money on literally nothing, will bother you a lot and you’ll want to get out of debt as quickly as possible. Take a minute to quickly jot down the things that are most important to you. (Ideas: family, financial freedom, friendship, career, etc). Once you are clear about what’s most important to you, start living your life in line with what’s most important to you. When you prioritize the things that matter most to you, you can’t go wrong.
Use debt tools to make it easier.
The best way to pay off debt and still have a life is to use tools that make the whole process easier. You can track your debt in one easy to see place, make friends with like minded people who are paying off debt, and ask debt questions to true debt pros in the Paidback app. Rather than spending time bogged down with the “how to” of paying off debt, you can get it and forget it, allowing you to live your life.
Remember the faster you pay it off the faster you can have a life again.
Remember to keep your end goal– paying off debt — in sight. The faster you pay off debt, the faster you can do all the things you may be feeling deprived of again. So on the days you may be feeling burned out or tempted to spend more than you should, think about your end goal and how it will feel to reach it,.
Build in rewards for debt payoff progress.
Another smart way to have a life while paying off debt is to reward yourself when you make progress. When you reach certain milestones, have built in rewards systems. For example: “When I pay off $5,000 in debt, I can buy that $40 shirt I’ve been wanting.” This will satisfy your feeling for wanting to have a life, and will also motivate you to keep going on your debt journey so that you can earn more rewards!
Give yourself a reality check.
Sometimes, the sad truth is, we just need a hard reality check. You are going to have to sacrifice some things now so that you can pay off debt. It doesn’t mean you are going to have to sacrifice everything. But because of your choices in the past, you are now in a place where your choices are limited. So make the choices you need to today to get out of debt so that your choices in the future will be unlimited! Your reason for going into debt may have been perfectly justified– you might have racked up credit card debt out of necessity when you lost a job or got divorced. Or maybe you have student loans from going to school or maybe it’s a personal loan for a business venture that went bad. Whatever the reason, getting out of debt is going to set you free in terms of living the life you want. So make the sacrifices necessary and get it done. 🙂
You can pay off debt and still have a life. But, you’ll still need to make some sacrifices and you’ll certainly need to prioritize what’s most important to you. With a little creativity and commitment to paying off debt, you’ll be living the life you want in no time.
Ready to get started paying off debt? Get the free guide! Our Debt Payoff Starter Kit is completely free and will walk you through how to get started paying off debt in 4 simple tasks so you can pay off debt and still have a life! Get your free copy here.
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