It’s hard to know when to spend money in the midst of paying off debt. You do have to buy necessities, and sometimes you need a little splurge to keep you motivated. In this world of uber-consumerism, there is always someone who can convince you that just about anything you want to buy is a good idea. Don’t detour from your debt repayment plan with one of these three seemingly “smart” ways to spend money.
Nothing can sabotage your debt repayment plan like sales. I bet most of us have had this experience, either in stores or online. You see some sort of sign or banner ad offering x% off something, say it’s 25% off shoes.
You think to yourself, “Hmm, I wear shoes. Maybe I’ll just take a look. I’m certainly not buying anything.” The next thing you know, you have three new pairs of shoes. One of them is kind of a weird color, but it was a brand you love and came with an extra discount. Twelve months later, you sell that pair of shoes on Ebay for 1/10 of what you paid for it. It really wasn’t your color.
As we were racking up credit card debt, we rarely bought anything that wasn’t on sale. We always looked at how much we saved instead of how much we spent. Truth is, anything you buy because it was on sale instead of because you needed it is a waste of money you could be putting toward debt. I’m not saying you have to go barefoot if you really need shoes, but don’t buy them just because you found a deal.
My neighbor had a friend who installed enough solar panels to heat his entire house. The friend was trying to talk my neighbor into doing the same by singing the merits of having no heat bill while helping the environment. When my neighbor asked how much it cost to add solar, he almost fell over when he found out that the cost was $30,000, which of course, could be financed over a 5 or 10 year period! When he did the math, it would have taken over 12 years to break even. He only planned to be in his house for about 8 more years.
You see this same argument with people who buy new cars to get better gas mileage. That might be a good plan if you bought an older car that got good gas mileage to replace your guzzler, but buying a brand new car to save money is insane.
I am all for being green. I cannot throw an aluminum can in the trash to save my life, but spending a ton of money to potentially save money while you are trying to get out of debt is a terrible idea.
Supporting Adult Children
I was reading a piece in the latest issue of Money magazine about how people were faring after the recession. I was shocked to learn about a couple who were giving their adult child $250 a month when they didn’t even have a month’s worth of savings to fend off emergencies. I bet they like to play Russian roulette on the weekends too.
It might seem harsh to cut off your child, and you can check in with me again in 12 years when my daughter is a legal adult to see if I still feel the same way. Hopefully, I will have taught her to be self sufficient and not expect Mom and Dad to bankroll her throughout life.
I have no problem helping your kids pay for education or with expenses when they are trying to get started on their own. I would even offer up a down payment for a first home if I was in good financial shape and could afford it. I would not stand in line at the soup kitchen because I gave my adult child all my money. You can bet your kiddo will thank you someday when they don’t have to take care of you in retirement because you are broke.
What seemingly good things do you see that derail people’s debt payoff plan? Have you ever bought something you don’t need because it was on sale?