There exists a common mindset of going crazy frugal in order to pay off debt. The idea to sacrifice everything in order to get out of debt as soon as possible is a good idea, but it’s mentally and emotionally taxing. The idea of spending absolutely no extra money while getting out of debt is, in my opinion, unhealthy for people.
Think of how long it will take to pay off your debt. Will it take you several months? Several years? Longer than that?
Having the heavy burden of debt can really take a toll on people. Personally, I loathe debt and try to get out of it as soon as humanly possible. Despite this, I've learned how important it is to still live a healthy, balanced even if you are in the middle of escaping debt.
Learn to Enjoy the Simple Things in Life
I have gotten into the habit of writing down 3 things every day I’m grateful for. I try to keep it different for the entire week and not repeat a single thing. Sometimes I get creative and other times I keep my 3 grateful items very simple.
The effect is amazing though. Not only do I record memories and life events, but I feel happier overall. Remembering daily the things I’m grateful for allows me to focus on the small and simple things in life. We all have things to be grateful for – we just have to learn to look for them.
Think about everything you already have in your life. Chances are you probably have a roof over your head. You probably have a warm bed to sleep in and have 3 meals a day. You likely have clean water to drink. If you have these things, you have so much more than most of the people living on this planet.
People are typically unhappy when they focus on what they want but can’t have. If they instead focus on what they already have, then they would find more happiness in their lives.
You will find more happiness in your life if you try to look for the small things.
Have an Entertainment Budget Every Month
A few months ago, my wife and I began budgeting out a certain amount each month for entertainment. Even though we’re still working on getting out of debt (end of the year here we come!), it’s vital to have an entertainment budget.
Life is stressful already. Debt only adds to the stress. But life doesn’t have to be terribly stressful when you’re in debt. It can still be fun and enjoyable. Spending a little bit of money in order to treat yourself are small rewards for paying off your debt. You need these small rewards to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Have you ever worked all day without even having lunch or a break? It sucks, right? It’s the same with paying off debt. If you’re working on paying it off for months and months, you need to treat yourself once in a while.
Having a reasonable entertainment budget every month will allow you to still go and do fun things and have a good time. You can spend it on movie rentals, go eat out, or splurge a little. Our favorite splurge is a local Indian restaurant with the best chicken tikka masala known to mankind. It’s a good thing we don’t live close to it. Otherwise, we’d probably eat there every day and I would gain a million pounds.
A monthly entertainment budget doesn’t have to be excessive. Just set aside a little money each month that you can afford and make it stretch. You can even make a game out of seeing how much fun you can have with the frugal entertainment budget you have.
If you want to read more about entertainment budgets, check out what the Frugal Millionaire website has to say about it.
I’m not saying go crazy and buy a ton of things that you don’t need while you’re still in debt. That would be irresponsible and counterproductive. However, you do need to reward yourself for making progress in paying off your debt.
Think of it this way. You paid off $1,000 of debt this month but spent $50 on a nice dinner and the movies for your significant other. Was the $50 spent a waste? No way! That dinner and movie is an awesome reward for doing so good with paying off debt.
It is healthy to spend a little bit of our money on fun things. Just remember to not be excessive. It’s the best thing to do and you will be thanking yourself when you’re enjoying your entertainment budget and getting out of debt at the same time.