Let’s be real, our five year debt payoff journey was far from perfect! We definitely didn’t live off of beans and rice. There were some categories in our budget that we valued as a married couple and didn’t want to let go of through the process. With that said, there are many ways to get creative in these areas and save money.
1. Healthy Foods
There is a myth out there that it costs too much to eat healthy or it’s too expensive. We beg to differ. There are many ways to eat healthy at a low cost and stick to your budget. Check out your local farmers market for fresh/cheap produce, clip electronic coupons from your local grocery store, and check the sales for produce and meats. Buy your favorite healthy snacks in bulk. Many times the cost is lower if you buy a snack in bulk versus buying a single item at a grocery store.
2. Date nights (low cost)
There are many date night ideas out there that don’t cost much or even a dime! This is an area that we continued to budget for because we felt it was a good investment into our marriage. A few of our favorite free date nights were cooking dinner at home and watching a movie, going to the local book store/reading together, picnics and walks at the park, going to the beach, packing lunch and going on a hike.
3. Gym Membership/Nutritional Supplements
If you followed our journey you know we enjoy exercise and working out at the gym. A gym membership has been essential for our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Along with that in the last year of our debt free journey we included nutritional supplements into our budget. These are not cheap supplements, but we loved the results, giving up coffee, and having more energy.
4. Milestone Celebrations, Birthdays, and Anniversaries
Each time we’d pay off one small debt we would have a mini celebration dinner or weekend getaway. This would help us stay motivated to continue to pay off the next debt until we hit the goal of being completely debt free. There were a few milestone birthday getaways that we took over the course of our five-year debt free journey to Napa, Monterey, etc.
Tithing is an area that we believe that should remain first in our budget no matter what. We continued to include 10% of our income towards tithe throughout the course of our debt free journey. We choose to keep God first in our finances before anything else because it all belongs to Him.
6. World Vision Child Sponsorship
We took on our sponsor child (Melvin) the year we were married in 2010, and this is something we did not want to let go of through the course of paying off debt. Our dream is to meet Melvin in Kenya one day and have enjoyed building a relationship with her over the years. This small donation each month was something we both agreed we did not want to let go of.
7. Hair Appointments
Yes, hair! We both have tons of hair and care very much about getting our hair did. Mel would go every six weeks for highlights/trim every couple months, and Murph would go twice a month for a line up or haircut.
In conclusion, we all have things that we value and are not willing to give up while paying off debt and that’s okay. Focus on your why and do what works best for you to accomplish the goal. We made a tremendous amount of sacrifices throughout our five-year debt free journey, but the areas you read about are areas that we value and didn’t think it would help us to cut those out of our budget.