You’ve finally done it. The whole family is on spending lockdown while putting as much money as possible toward a goal. That goal might be paying off debt, saving for a big expense, or even early retirement. Since most of us can do basic math, it makes sense that every dollar not going toward this goal means a longer journey. It’s exciting at first, but what if your journey takes months or even years to achieve? Should you cut out all unnecessary spending for the duration? I believe there are ways to still afford fun while on on a budget, even if you have some expensive hobbies.
Can You Cut All Unnecessary Spending?
I have often said that we cut out all unnecessary spending while paying off debt, but that’s not true. What if you want to save money, yet love to buy expensive coffee, go golfing, take a vacation? In our case, we still went out to eat. We gave gifts. We even took a vacation in the middle of debt payoff ground zero.
If you cut out all unnecessary spending, then you’re eating for sustenance only, drinking water, and walking to work every day. For most of us that’s not realistic. I’d honestly rather be in debt than sit around in my unfurnished house eating saltines and drinking tap water. How on earth do you achieve some sort of balance?
Make a List of Priorities
Family budgeting is a very important step with any financial plan. You should sit down with all eligible family members and list the things that are important. I believe kids who are old enough should have a say, even if their say is Disney princesses. It also depends on how long your goal is going to take. Anyone can buckle down hard for 3 months. No one can do it for 3 years.
Your goal should be the number one priority, otherwise why are you doing this exercise in the first place? Next, take a look at all the things you enjoy that cost money and add value to your life.
Find Out How To Afford Them
Hopefully at this point, you are tracking spending. Maybe there are things in the budget that you don’t enjoy anymore and can cut out. Otherwise, you’ll need to earn more money for those non-necessities.
Whether you value family trips or getting a massage, there are tons of ways to earn more money to afford the things that add value to your life. You could sell things on eBay, get a side hustle, or ask for more hours at your day job. Having a “treat” to look forward to makes it easier to stay on track with your other goal, but make sure you have a set amount to spend on fun each month and no more.
Paying off debt or focusing on a huge financial goal is hard work. In my experience, being able to budget for fun or entertainment is a key component that keeps people on track toward their long term dreams.
Should people spend money on unnecessary expenses when paying off debt? What is your “fun” expense that you can’t live without?