I know there are many readers out there who are struggling to pay off debt. I’m not necessarily talking about mortgages or well chosen student loans, although those can certainly become burdensome if you get in over your head. I’m talking about the big bad debt that comes with high interest payments or a deadline you have to meet before you get socked with even higher interest. We’ve seen our share of bad debt with credit cards, revolving finance plans, and car payments for new cars we didn’t need. I like to think of this as evil debt because it robs you of choices and freedoms that you can never have unless you are debt free. I’m living proof that you can overcome those type debts, and when you do, there is so much fun to be had! Here are a few of my favorite fun things we’ve been able to do since paying off our evil debts.
Use Credit Card Rewards for Free Travel
Over the past year or so, I’ve learned so much about how to use various credit card bonuses to earn points and miles for buying things I needed to buy anyway. If you do it correctly by taking advantage of great offers and getting double or more points on all purchases with the Barclay World Arrival or Chase Freedom card, you can travel the world for free or very low cost while staying in some of the nicest accommodations available.
We paid for most of last year’s vacation with credit card rewards. We have booked an unbelievable trip to Hawaii this summer, where we will stay at the Grand Hyatt, a five star resort. Flight and hotel out of pocket costs will be less than a weekend road trip. There is no way you can take advantage of these rewards if you don’t pay off your balances in full each month or if you don’t have an awesome credit score. This should be reason enough to pay off the credit cards!
Donate to Charity
I don’t want to bring up a debate of whether or not you should donate money to charity while paying off debt. Technically, I believe every spare penny should be thrown at your debts, but sometimes it’s more important to your mental and spiritual well being to donate to certain causes. However, I bet if you are giving while in debt, you aren’t doing as much as you’d like, and there is probably some twinge of guilt because you know you still have debt to pay off.
Once you are out of debt, you have much more freedom to be charitable and it feels really good.
This might not be something you’d ever want to do, but for the last couple of years, I have wanted to tip a good server 100%. I wouldn’t do it all the time or be like Jack Selby, but it is super fun and doesn’t really cost that much in the grand scheme of things.
We recently tipped a waitress 100% on a $32 tab. We had just gotten back from our Christmas trip and were spending the night in Phoenix. After some delays, it was almost 9PM before we made it to our hotel. We were starving, and although the hotel restaurant was set to close in a half hour and there were no other patrons, the waitress was incredible and went out of her way to make us comfotable.
We didn’t stick around to see if she was happy with her tip, but it makes me smile to think about a tired server expecting a 10% or 15% tip and finding 100%. This is something we never would have done during debt repayment, but I hope be able to tip 100% from time to time without worrying about blowing the budget.
If our roof had caved in or the furnace gone out while we were paying off our credit card debt, we would have fixed them, but otherwise, we put off any home repair or upgrades. Now we are looking at our budget to catch up on some of the things that we’ve put off. This summer we are hoping to put some sort of roof or pergola over our back porch so we can enjoy eating dinner outside. Right now, it gets too hot from direct sunlight and no shade. That project is certainly not necessary but will make us much happier, and that should be what money is for.
Making Plans for the Future
I think people always have ideas of what they want to do in the future, but you really can’t make any plans until you pay off your debt. Otherwise, you will probably end up adding to your debt or being disappointed when you don’t have enough money for your plan after paying the bills each month. If you have read this blog for any lenght of time , you know I am full of plans, and I actually believe most of them will happen. I wasn’t so sure when we were buried in debt.