How to Spend Guilt-Free While Not Living Debt-Free (Yet)

I subscribe to the EZ Bugdet or Anti-Budget from Dave Weliver’s MoneyUnder30.com. (I love that site. Don’t you?)

This spending plan is pretty simple. Dave instructs you to:

  • Total your fixed monthly expenses (your Nut).
  • Figure out your net (take-home) pay, per month.
  • Subtract your Nut from your take-home pay.
  • The remainder is what’s left to spend. On whatever you want—food, gas, beer and travel. For the purpose of this post, I’ll call this amount “the leftovers.”

ez-budget-napkin-money-under-30

The plan is supposed to help you take care of the most important stuff through automated payments, so you can spend the remainder—no matter how large or small—guilt-free.

My fixed expenses include the basics (rent, utilities, cell phone bill, etc.), and the extras:

  • savings
  • premiums for extra insurance not covered by my employer’s plan
  • Roth IRA contributions
  • aggressive debt repayment

The amount I spend toward the debt payoff is about $350 more than the combined minimum payments of $60. I’m sacrificing a large chunk of take-home pay each month to the debt snowball. So why do I feel guilty if I spend the leftovers on something cool?! I guess I’m fighting the felling that I should be doing more.

After I paid off a credit card in June, I took advantage of a Groupon sale on top of the 50-percent discount to buy a cooking class I’ve been coveting for months. The class was a reward. And it helps me achieve another goal of constant self-improvement. I paid $79.20 for a 6-hour cooking boot camp valued at $199. That’s 60-percent off!

I paid for the purchase outright. But I felt guilty! Why couldn’t I just put that money toward the next credit card?!

Shouldn’t I go ahead and pay off that medical bill?

Shouldn’t it go toward my savings?
I’ve read so many of those posts with outrageous headlines, like “How we paid off $1 million dollars in debt in a week!” Shouldn’t I cut every corner like they did?

No. Personal finances are personal.

I should do what’s right for me. I don’t want to put every single penny into debt repayment because I want to have some fun, too. And that’s OK. There’s no fun in only spending the leftovers on gas, food and household items. I don’t thrive on deprivation. Also, interest isn’t accruing on the medical bills or the credit card debts because of the balance transfers.

Dave Ramsay fans are probably screaming his quote, “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”

Yeah, yeah. But I am living like no one else. I’m not out here looking for a new apartment (which I want to do), buying new furniture (which I’ve wanted badly for two years), looking for a new car (which I’ll need pretty soon), buying new, sexy shoes (which would be nice to have), or taking a big trip (which hurts my inner globetrotter). I’m putting at least an extra $350 toward debt repayment for goodness sake!

I must deal with this guilt. I found these tips from Divine Caroline via Intent.

Tips For Dealing With Spending Without Guilt:

  1. Acknowledge your money fears, however irrational. Just like the post’s author, my irrational money fear is that if I spend a big chunk of money today on something for myself, then I’ll encounter some terrible financial misfortune that’ll cause me to regret spending money on said item. If that’s the case, then I’ll end up never spending money on anything fun. I’m not advocating for going overboard, but I must find a middle ground.
  2. Make sure your personal finances are in working order. Check! Since I’m taking care of my monthly Nut before spending on anything else, then my finances are in order. The bases are covered, so go ahead and swing for the moon.
  3. Set aside fun money that you absolutely MUST spend on yourself. I haven’t create a Fun Fund, so maybe I should do that now. I should plan to spend an allotment amount on self-care or fun.
  4. Save for big splurges ahead of time. I already save monthly for annual expenses I have to pay for, such as, renter’s insurance, professional organization fees. I should start another savings account to pay for a vacation or furniture.
  5. Give away some money to a good cause regularly. The author writes:Superstitious or not, I truly believe that giving some money to a good cause on a monthly basis makes for good money karma (and of course good life karma overall). When you are in the position of helping others in need through financial donations, you are always in a state of abundance no matter how big your paycheck is.”
  6. Be on the lookout for good deals on things you want to spend money on. I totally agree with this. Hence, my Groupon and LivingSocial obsessions.
  7. Prioritize what you want to spend money on and know what makes you happy. Right now my priorities lie in lifelong learning and self-care. So I will no longer feel guilty for buying the cooking class in June, or paying for the second part of wedding planning class, a pedicure or those classic dresses I bought on sale from one of my favorite designers at Dillard’s this month. These things make me happy and feel better about my self. They’re investments.

So, guilt, be gone!

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