Debt can really suck the enjoyment out of living a fulfilling life. In order to not feel like you are solely living to pay off your debt, you need to find the right balance between paying off your debt and still enjoying life.
Although some financial experts say you should live on ramen noodles until your debt is paid off, extreme tactics like this are definitely not for everyone. Feeling a sense of personal fulfillment is a key part of your life and should not be ignored. Of course this does not mean you should disregard your debt or go out and spend all you have, but you should come up with specific goals for your money that will still allow you to pay down your debt and have some fun while doing it.
Planning how you are going to handle your money will help you reach your debt goals and your life goals much easier. List all your debt, all your sources of income, come up with small targets to meet along with your big ones. Plan out all your spending so you know what you need to stick to. Without a plan for your money, you will start spending where you shouldn't and you will most likely wind up adding to your debt.
Boosting your income is a great way to come up with extra money to pay down your debt faster or save for an important goal you have. This can be anything from dog walking to becoming an Uber driver on the weekends. Side gigs are really great because you can work them around your schedule. You can also look into making money online, now this is something you can do anytime and anywhere.
Splurges like shopping and lattes can really add up. Go through you monthly spending and see how much is going towards clothes and other not so necessary things. You may find you are dropping a few hundred dollars a month. For this reason, you must prioritize in order to achieve any financial goals you have. Come up with other ways to entertain yourself while also saving money. This can be a movie night in, a potluck dinner with friends or a sunset on the beach. Before you know it, you will have racked up a nice amount in savings.
Take the time and figure out what matters to you. Is it a fancy wardrobe or being able to go on a big trip once a year. While doing this exercise, you may figure out that shopping isn't actually contributing to your happiness. It is a fleeting feeling of satisfaction. Figure out the right balance that works for you.
A great way to stay motivated on this journey is to open a dedicated savings account for your goal. This will help keep you on track and ensure that you do not dip into it for other things. You can even come up with a dollar amount as an end goal. $4k and I will book a vacation. Some banks offer money to open an account with them, so if you can find one near you that does, great!
If your student loan debt is crippling your finances, you should look into refinancing your debt. You will be taking out a loan to help you with paying off your old loans. The new loans would have different repayment terms and at a lower interest rate. So this is a great way to save you some money and you would be paying off your loans earlier. This may not be the answer for everyone but worth looking into if you think it is a fit for your situation.
Now we are paying off debt, but like we said, you still need to feel like you are among the living and not banished to your home seven days a week. Groupon can be a great way to entertain yourself while on a budget. Now don't go crazy, you are still spending money. So keep this activity to maybe once every few months or whatever makes sense for your budget.
If all you do is focus on paying off your debt without allowing yourself some entertainment, you will surely fall off track. As you move along the path of debt repayment, reward yourself along the way. A great way to do this is by giving yourself a treat for when you meet any of the money goals you have set for yourself. If you wanted to have $300 of your debt paid off by a certain date and you meet that goal, give yourself a small reward. Just don't add to your debt!
If you are in debt with your spouse, make it a team effort. There is power in numbers and when paying down debt, this is definitely true. Set up monthly meetings to go over your budget to see if you are staying on track. Throughout the month, cheer each other on and offer encouragement. Having a partner to work with when paying off debt is great for accountability and it just makes it easier to do.
TV is a guilty pleasure for so many and many people do look at tv as a major source of entertainment. With that being said, it is not a cheap one if you have cable. With all the different technology out there, it might be time to look into alternatives to cable. Hulu and Netflix are just a couple of ways to get your TV fix at a fraction of the price of cable. For under $10, this should definitely be on your list of things to check out.
How you handle your finances is a personal thing. What may work for one person may not for another. You have to look at what will help you reach your goals while also feeling fulfilled in your everyday life.