Getting out of debt is hard. Usually it requires sitting down evaluating your spending habits, creating a new budget, and cutting some expenses. The first things that usually get cut from your budget to make room for extra debt payments are the things that make your lifestyle comfortable – like cable TV, regular hair appointments at a salon, and maybe even your housekeeper.
Usually these are also the things that most people would like to keep in their budget if at all possible. After all, it’s a lot more fun to get your hair done than to pay your electric bill. But what if there was a way to pay off your debt without giving up the things that you enjoy the most in your lifestyle? Here are some ideas how you can pay off debt and keep living the lifestyle you want, at least to some degree.
Use a Spending Plan
Living on a budget isn’t about eliminating all of your spending. In fact, I’d rather think of my budget as a “spending plan” because it’s a less restrictive term. People have less apprehension when you tell them they need to make a spending plan vs. when you tell them they need to make a budget. Budgets get a lot of negative reactions, which is unnecessary. By changing the label to spending plan you can eliminate a lot of hesitation that you may not even know you have.
When you are reviewing your monthly spending plan and deciding what stays and what goes in your discretionary spending, I suggest making a list of all of your discretionary spending areas, like salon visits, restaurant dining, entertainment, gym memberships, housekeeper, cable TV, etc. Once you’ve made a list of your discretionary spending and noted how much you spend on each item, you can begin ranking them in order of most important to least important.
This is where everyone’s list will differ, even within your household. You may value your housekeeper above all else while your spouse loves cable TV. Now you’ll have to compromise as you begin to cut out the least important of your discretionary spending.
Keep compromising and cutting items off the list until you are comfortable with the amount you’ll be spending on discretionary expenses each month. The money you saved by cutting expenses needs to be put toward your debt. But at least you’ll be able to keep some of your favorite discretionary spending in your plan.
Don’t Be Gazelle Intense
I know this won’t be a popular opinion, but rather than following financial guru Dave Ramsey’s advice of being “gazelle intense” while paying off debt, I decided to take a different approach. My debt payoff mantra is more of a balance between “gazelle intense” and “slow and steady”.
Of course paying of high-interest consumer debt is important, but I still want to be able to live my life and enjoy it along the way. You only live once and I don’t want to spend my entire life in debt, but enjoying my lifestyle is important to me too.
Earn Extra Income
The best way to maintain your lifestyle and put more money toward your debt is to find ways to earn extra income. When you first start thinking of ways to earn extra income it may seem difficult or time-intensive to earn enough money to make a difference. But that’s not the case at all. Every extra dollar you earn is worth more than a dollar when you apply it toward high interest debt. Why? Because it not only pays off a dollar of debt, but it also helps interest to stop accruing on that dollar too.
Luckily, there are lots of ways you can earn extra income. You can take on a part-time job that will work around your full-time job’s work schedule. You can start making money online by offering your skills and knowledge via a freelance business. You can even make extra money by mowing lawns in your neighborhood this summer or babysitting other people’s kids when they want to go out for a date night. It doesn’t matter how you choose to make extra money. It just matters that you use it wisely to pay off your debt.
What other ways can you think of to pay off debt without giving up your lifestyle?