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Paying off debt can be a scary thing to start. I know for myself, I was terrified of my reality when I hit my financial breaking point during grad school.
6 figures of debt and a teaching salary scared the living you know what right outta me. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I had dug myself such a massive hole and I had the absolute smallest shovel to get myself out with.
To this day I thank my grad school advisor for smacking some sense and reality into me when I was still in school and my loans were in deferment.
Without her, I would have been in a longer program, making less money in grad school, getting less scholarship money, making less as a teacher in NY, and paying for rent. The numbers literally didn’t add up and I most definitely would have been living on credit cards for my daily expenses.
Because of her, I made sacrifices so that I can build myself a much better future. I moved home after graduation to live rent free and get a higher salary in NJ. This allows me to reap the benefits of living in a high cost of living area (higher salary), while not paying the sky high rent in the area.
Sometimes you need an outside person to look at your situation and help you create a game plan. I didn’t think to actually create a fake budget at the time, I didn’t know anything about money back then. She got me to start being interested in personal finance and taking an active role to get out of debt ASAP.
If you’re someone that needs help with this, reach out! Find someone to help you. I’m always available to help and if you want something with more structure I have email coaching to help you.
The reality is that you’re going to have to make sacrifices while paying off debt, if you want to do it quickly. For me, I really enjoy my life now while paying off debt. Of course, I’m planning to move out shortly, but this journey has showed me what I truly value and enjoy. Most of which costs little to no money.
Here are some reasons why you should make sacrifices while paying off debt.
1. It can help you save money on high ticket expenses while you pay off debt.
The classic example is the money you spend on housing. This is always a high ticket expense in your budget and one that you should try to get as low as possible. By figuring out ways to lower your housing expenses, it will allow you to spend a little more in areas that may bring you more joy.
For example, by living at home with my parents I am making my housing expenses zero. This allows me to put a ton of money to debt, but also lets me still go to the gym, have a larger grocery budget, and occasionally go to happy hour or dinner with friends.
I’m not saying move back home with your parents. That’s not always realistic, but start thinking creatively about your housing situation. Can you get a roommate(s)? Can you find a smaller or cheaper apartment to rent? Recently, there have been people in the #debtfreecommunity on IG that are selling their houses to pay off their debt.
You need to figure out what you value and what you want to spend your money on. For me, the sacrifice of living with my parents is by far worth getting out of debt faster.
2. It can increase your income while you pay off debt.
I love a good side hustle and I think everyone should have multiple streams of income. It’s worth it to sacrifice a bit of time short term, for the long term gain of being debt free.
Currently, I work a lot of side hustles and it does take a decent amount of my time. Is it ideal? No, but I know it is temporary while I pay off my debt. Without a doubt, by working these side hustles it has brought my debt free date closer and there is no way I would have paid off as much as I have without them.
The great part about side hustles is that you have total control over them because they aren’t your main source of income. I always try out a side hustle and see if it works. If it doesn’t, then I figure out an exit strategy and stop that side hustle.
By making the short term sacrifice of working extra side jobs you will be able to increase your debt payments and ultimately save money in interest in the long run. Figure out what you can realistically manage and see how much you can make to move your debt free date closer.
3. It can create habits that you end up keeping.
When you’re paying off debt, of course you’re going to start doing things for the short term. At first they may be considered sacrifices, but I guarantee that you will eventually adopt some of these new things as habits.
For example, I know that I will always work multiple jobs. It’s just in my nature. I enjoy changing things up and doing different things. I think that’s why I like being a teacher, every day is always different. Eventually I won’t work as much, but I think I will always work extra jobs.
Also, at first my living arrangement was solely so that I could pay off debt. Now, I want to always make sure to live way below my means. This definitely means that I don’t plan on buying a big house, I enjoy small, minimal living now and I don’t plan on changing that.
The sacrifices at first that you create might just end up being habits that you create and end up enjoying. I am shocked by how much my life has changed since committing to paying off my debt. It’s amazing what you end up valuing in the long run when you have big goals.
Remember, the sacrifices you make are temporary.
Ultimately, the sacrifices you make are temporary and once you have reached your goal, you can change things again. What it comes down to is always having a goal you want to reach. This will help you to determine what you are willing to sacrifice.
If you want to reach your goal faster then going out to dinner, you may decide that night out isn’t worth it. The best part about personal finance is that it’s all up to you. You can do whatever you want and you need to decide if your goals are more important than certain things. What have you sacrificed to pay off debt?