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Fun Things You Get To Do After Paying Off Credit Card Debt

Fun after debtI 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.

Tip 100%

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.

Home Repair

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.

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net/Miles

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. I think being able to use credit cards for rewards (assuming you are committed to using them responsibly) is the biggest perk of paying off your credit card debt. There’s a lot of rewards out there and if you’re in credit card debt its hard to justify pursuing them.

    • I think you should not even use a credit card if you carry a balance. It’s just too tempting not to pay if off if you already have debt.

  2. I love surprising people with big tips on little tickets sometimes, too!

    • It is really fun, even if you can’t see what happens after you leave. That almost makes it more fun, kind of like you are a little elf or something.

  3. LOVE the idea about tipping 100%. That sounds like so much fun. That’s something that will definitely be on our to-do list once the debt is paid off. 🙂

  4. Without going crazy, being out of debt can usually allow for some stretching out of the budget. People are usually in budget lock down mode if they are aggressively paying off debt. Once that’s done, they can relax a bit on how tightly they manage their funds.

  5. As you know, we’ve started churning now that we’re out of debt which is a great perk to take advantage of – assuming you know what you’re doing. We’ve also tipped 100% several times and it feels great to be able to do.

    • I could get really sad if I thought about all the trips we have missed out on because I didn’t know about and wasn’t able to do churning earlier.

  6. I also like the idea of tipping 100%! I’m sure it would brighten anyone’s day 🙂 I might try that today when I go out to eat.

  7. I worked as a waitress in high school and college and I would have fallen over to receive a 100% tip. I was a friendly waitress but I was terrible at it and I was lucky to get 100%. I always tip well now if the service is good but I always tip 10% to 15% even if the service is bad.

  8. I have surprised people with big tips too, and it feels so good! Not necessarily 100%, but 25-50%. Food service jobs suck. Anyone who is remotely nice to me and my kids gets a good tip.

    • I agree. If you can’t tip, then don’t go out to eat. I especially feel sorry for the ones who have had to clean up after my daughter in her younger days. She is still messy, but that was a whole new level.

  9. I’m sure you made that waitress’ day! It does feel good to reward great service. I have a good amount of student loan debt, but they are low interest. It would be such a burden lifted when they are paid off, and I can funnel that money into savings.

    • We just paid our student loans off last year because we were just stupid for years. It was an awesome feeling and made me feel lots lighter.

  10. “That project is certainly not necessary but will make us much happier, and that should be what money is for.” Amen. That’s exactly how I look at money. When you have financial independence, you now have the freedom to use your money on what makes you happy without regret or guilt. I LOVE the idea of 100% tips and plan on stealing the idea. I’ve left generous tips before but not 100% and I can only imagine how good that waitress must have felt when she saw her tip.

  11. All great things to do when debt free. Im approaching two years being CC debt free. It feels great. I just donated $$ to a great local charity today. I will share the paper and the experience with my kids.

  12. Great thoughts Kim! It is almost fun paying off the credit card and getting points. In 2012, I made almost $4K in cash rebates from my credit card. Before they took away the 5% cash back and unlimited spending at home improvements stores…:-(

  13. That’s so sweet you tipped them 100% of the bill! I never even thought about doing that, but that would certainly be making someone’s day!

  14. Kim 100% tip I’d a great idea. I think I’ll use that at Christmas time.

  15. The 100% tip would certainly be fun for the server 🙂

    Fun things I want to do after paying off debt include increasing our entertainment budget to go to more happy hours, more plays/musicals, and more games. And of course, I want to travel my face off!

  16. The 100% tip thing is amazing. I generally go to overpriced urban restaurants, but when I’m at a cheaper, chain restaurant, especially in a rural area, I would love to be able to do that! Will definitely add to my to-do list when the debt is paid off!

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