3 Ways to Enjoy the Present While You’re Still Paying Off Debt

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.

It can be hard to balance enjoying the present when paying off debt, especially when all your money is going toward debt. Here's how we do it.

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.

-Chonce

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 LockertYou 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.

-Erin

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.

-Kayla

How to you take the time and set your budget to enjoy the present despite having debt?

3 Strategies to Help Pay Off Debt Faster

When you are working hard to pay off debt, it can seem like you’ll never be debt free. But after talking with our guest Melanie in this week’s podcast episode, we learned that it is possible to pay off massive amounts of debt and live your dreams.

If you are still in debt, there are things you can do to help pay off debt faster. All three of us have had experience with paying off debt and we’ve learned some strategies and ways to help pay off debt faster through our own trial and error.

If you still have debt to pay off, try these 3 strategies to help pay off debt faster.

If you are in debt, there are things you can do to pay off debt faster. Here are some ways to pay off debt faster that we've found through trial and error.

Make Extra Money Anyway You Can

One of the ways I’ve been able to pay off debt faster is by finding ways to make extra money. I’ve worked part-time at a retail store, cleaned an office building, written for a college newspaper, mowed lawns, shoveled snow, and picked up freelance writing and VA work to help increase my income at different times in my life. These side hustles haven’t all worked out, but many of them have and they’ve helped me improve my financial situation significantly even though I’m still working my way out of debt.

The one mistake I have made is using my extra money for things other than just debt. Looking back, I wish I had been more diligent about putting all of the extra money I was making toward debt or savings so I could pay off debt faster.

-Kayla

Cut Your Expenses

Earning extra money is a great way to pay off debt but it isn’t always easy since other factors may prevent you from earning extra money or earning money quickly through a side hustle. However, you can always downsize by cutting expenses to free up more of your income so you can put it toward debt. When I got serious about paying off my debt I cut expenses like cable, clothes shopping, fast food, my high cell phone bill, and even my monthly rent (by moving to a cheaper apartment) so I could throw more money on my debt.

Some people I know even move back in with family to cut their living expenses or sell their car and use public transit. You can also negotiate lower premiums with your insurance companies to lower your rates. They key idea, to to add up all your savings and prioritize the money by putting it toward debt payoff as soon as you can.

If you try holding onto your extra money to make an extra debt payment toward the end of the month, you run the risk of spending it on something else. Instead, set us automatic transfers and make as many payments as you can each month as long as your lender doesn’t penalize you. This will help your balance do down a lot quicker.

-Chonce

Pay a Little Extra a Little Bit at a Time

Earning more and cutting back can help you with this strategy, and it’s a favorite of mine.

Maybe you get paid irregularly, or maybe you can’t afford to throw $1,000+ at your debt each month. That’s fine!

Instead, try paying a little bit every week, or making 3-4 payments per month, when you can.

This is a good strategy to use when you have cash flow concerns, or if you’re just overwhelmed with making a huge payment.

I know many people who simply throw their work bonuses toward their debt without blinking, but that’s not the case for everyone. If you’re wary of parting with that much money at once, you can break it down.

Let’s say your goal is to pay an extra $400 per month toward your debt, and you get paid once every week. Pay $100 per week!

If you get paid bi-weekly, or on the 15th and 30th of the month, then pay $250 on the days after you get paid.

Honestly, sometimes I just throw an extra $20 – $50 at my student loan debt whenever I receive extra money (from birthdays or holidays), or whenever I spend less than I thought I would on something.

Getting into the habit of paying extra and setting aside those extra funds is what’s important here. If you’re ending the month with nothing extra left, then focus on earning more and cutting back first so you can implement paying more throughout the month.

-Erin

Have you made extra payments on your debt, or are you paying the minimum? Do you have a debt free date in mind? What strategies are you using to help pay off your debt faster?