The struggle to pay debt is two-fold. There is the financial struggle of having enough money and there is the mental struggle of wanting to. I’m dedicated to paying off my debt. Fingers crossed, I should be debt-free in 4-6 years.
If I had more money, I’d pay it off even faster. That is the financial struggle. But unfortunately, my budget doesn’t have a whole lot of wiggle room. Which brings me to the mental struggle. Yes, I want to pay off my debt, but every so often, I want to spend some money. Since joining the Debt Movement, I’ve been taking a harder look at this part of my debt struggle.
My mental struggle with debt and spending
I’m not really a gadget-hound, always out to buy the latest and greatest technology. I can walk through clothing stores without feeling the urge to spend a dime. Opening my wallet in the automotive store is a tearful event. But my weakness is food. I’m a bit of a foodie. I like to eat. If I had the money to burn, I’d probably dine out 3-4 days per week and still spend over $500 per month on groceries.
Of course I don’t. I don’t have that kind of money. But do I really need to pay $200 on my student loan payment instead of the $183 that’s due? Maybe this month I’ll pay the minimum and use the extra to get a some ingredients for a green curry dish I’ve been wanting to make again.
That is my mental struggle. One way I work to avoid this is to dedicate specific income streams towards paying off debt.
Dedicating income streams
“Pay yourself first” is a popular mantra in the personal finance community. The idea is to put money into savings first before you can spend it on something else. The general idea is to never let the money into your hands in the first place.
When I donate plasma, I get paid onto a pre-paid debit card. My strategy here is to leave that debit card locked away so I am not tempted to spend it. Once per month, I take it out, buy a money order, for the balance of the card and deposit that money order into my account that pays my debt payments. This income stream is completely dedicated to paying debt and I have limited ability to dip into it for spending.
For my online efforts, I get paid via PayPal. Last year, I let that money sit there until the very end of the year and then deposited it. This money I’m using now to cover the difference between my unemployment and the amount I have to pay towards my debt.
If you manage to come up with extra income, do your best to never actually see that money but use it directly towards paying off your debt.