We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s episode with Liz about finding the balance between paying off debt and living out your dreams.
We are certainly in awe of how Liz has made a conscious effort to prioritize pursuing her dreams despite having $198,000 in student loan debt from law school.
Since the three of us are on a debt repayment journey too, we can understand how the debt repayment process can be long, dreary and hold you back from the things you really want to do. As we’ve expressed in previous episodes, it’s all about balance.
It’s important to still enjoy the present and live for today while you’re paying off your debt to improve your finances in the future.
Here are 3 of our favorite ways to work on enjoying the present while you’re still on a debt repayment journey.
Save Up for Short-Term Goals and Wants
I’ve been on an aggressive debt repayment journey for about two years straight now and it’s safe to say I’m facing a bit of debt fatigue. Some days I just get flat out burnt out from debt repayment and lose motivation.
After throwing everything I had to my debt last year, this year I decided to switch things up and start saving a little money too. My emergency fund balance was dangerously low so I beefed that up first. Then I started saving for short-term goals that mattered to me like my wedding, a vacation, experiences with my family and so on.
Loosening the reigns on my strict debt repayment schedule allowed me to slow down and enjoy life more and it actually motivated me to keep paying off my debt.
My husband and I are about 2 years away from having all our debt paid off and we’re trying to enjoy the journey along the way.
I don’t regret having an affordable dream wedding instead of waiting until my debt was paid off and I don’t regret the amazing family vacation I had this past summer at Wisconsin Dells.
I saved up for these experiences and they’ve added value to my life so I don’t just have the future to look forward to because it’s not promised.
Don’t Tie Your Self-Worth to Your Debt
When you have debt, it’s very easy to let it get in the way of just about everything – to the point where you become your debt.
But you aren’t your debt. To quote podcast guest Melanie Lockert, You are not alone. You are not a loan.
If you believe you’re undeserving of anything in life because of your debt, you won’t be able to enjoy anything. So please don’t fall into that mindset.
Regardless of how you got into debt, you’re reading this, so it’s likely you’re working your way out. You are NOT a bad person because you have debt, and you’re not “normal,” either, because you’re working your way toward debt freedom. That’s an awesome thing.
Remember that debt is temporary. Take the long view. You might be stuck paying your debt off for the next five or ten years, but that’s a blip over the course of your entire life.
Having this perspective on the situation can make it easier to live for today and not let your debt hold you back. Learn to separate yourself and your self-worth from your numbers, because you’re way more than just a number.
Being in debt doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to offer the world. You can inspire others to become debt free and live with a greater purpose.
Don’t Get in Such a Hurry
This opinion might be frowned upon by some in the personal finance community, but that’s why it’s called “personal” finance after all. To echo Chonce’s sentiment, I think the best way to pay off debt and enjoy the present is to slow down.
Yes, there’s a time and a place for “gazelle intensity” when it comes to paying off your debt. But, I’ve seen better results by slowing down my debt progress a little bit and letting myself enjoy life along the way. I’ve made progress at increasing my savings and paying off debt this past year. But, I’ve also done a few things to improve my lifestyle and my health.
I’m not frugal by nature and I know many people who aren’t. I’m a lot more frugal than I used to be. However, I know that the best way for me to enjoy the present while continuing to pay off debt is to loosen the purse strings a little bit and not worry about being in such a hurry. Find a plan that allows you to work toward your financial goals and still enjoy life.
How to you take the time and set your budget to enjoy the present despite having debt?