This is a sponsored post by Denny’s. All opinions (and debts) are mine.
I’m pretty sure that I have more debt than the average 27 year-old millennial. Between mothering a kid with a chronic medical condition (hospital debt!!) and my shiny degree from the ritzy, private college, I owe people a lot. A whole lot. I’m not talking about, “OMG, how am I going to pay off this $5000 student loan that I just had to get to cover my last semester in college?” lot, but an “OMG, my insurance didn’t cover my C-section, my kid spent 12 days in the hospital when I’d just changed jobs and didn’t have insurance yet” kind of a lot. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to think of how much debt I’ve accumulated in my short 27 years. I’m trying to buy a house for goodness sake! That’s even more debt, even more people to owe. Ugh, what’s a girl to do?
Living with lots of debt
To be fair, I’ve had the internal tug of war between throwing everything I have towards the debt versus just living with it–on a near daily basis. It’s hard to willingly “blow money” on fun things when you have so much debt hanging over your head, day in and day out. In the end, though, I’ve always sided with living with the debt, doing what I can to manage it, but not stopping my life because of it. I just feel like life is too short to always be living for tomorrow. Yep, debt elimination is important and something that everyone should strive for. But am I going to miss out on any part of my life because of it? Not a chance.
I know this sounds like something a cocky millennial would say and that’s probably because I’m knee deep in millennialism right now. At 27, I see things a bit differently than, say, a 37 year-old might. I’m in the thick of it, with a family, and I’m doing the very best I can to manage my debt, but still live my life.
I still travel
Traveling is one of my favorites things to do in the world. If I could travel for months at a time, I would. Having a lot of debt does put a damper on things though, although not too much. For example, for the past few years, we’ve done quite a few road trips. We’ve gone to Minneapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, Tennessee, Austin, Dallas, and a host of other places. And we’ve done it all by car. I even took a cruise a few years ago and got to bask in the Bahamian sun. That one wasn’t by car, but you catch my drift. I refuse to not go where I want to go because of debt.
I still go out/eat out/hang out
One of the things about personal finance and these debt elimination programs that I really dislike is this idea of deprivation. “Say goodbye to going out with your friends and that morning coffee you love so much. You’re eliminating debt now!” Umm, yes, but I still want to live my life. You know, this one life that I get and can’t get back once it’s gone? Yeah, that one. So, I’m really not about depriving myself of the things that I enjoy even if it means that I eliminate debt at a slower pace. For example, I love eating out and I don’t have any plans to ever stop eating out. But I also try to be smart with my money when it comes to eating out. For example, I’m a big fan of cost effective value menus. Denny’s $2468 menu allows me to feed myself and my family on about $20. I can get my $6 Southwest Turkey Sandwich with a cup of soup and Hubz can get his $6 Baja Quesadilla Burger. The kid, of course, could have her $2 Cheese Quesadilla and wash it down with a $2 Original Pancake Puppies® Sundae. No debt guilt here. I don’t compromise my budget or what I want to do, which is kick back with my family, share some laughs, and eat some good food.
I still save
Debt can make you feel like you can’t save. It says stuff like, “Throw all your extra money at me. Give it to me!” Honestly, though, since I have a lot of debt, I find it even more imperative to save. I look at it like this: if something were to happen and I needed to dip into my emergency fund, where would I dip if I’ve only been paying down debt and not saving? It’s not like I can borrow from the debt I’ve been paying off or use the money I’ve been paying off my debt with to take care of my emergency. That money is long gone. Besides, without an emergency fund, I’m probably looking at a whole lot more debt depending on what the emergency is. That’s why I always make it a priority to save, no matter how much debt I accumulate, no matter how little my savings is. Saving is non-negotiable.
I still pursue my passions + invest in me and what’s important to me
What’s life if you can’t do and have the things that light you on fire? I am a lover of the written word. I am a lover of learning. Therefore, debt does not stop me from buying books, taking classes, pursuing my goals, etc. While I won’t max out a credit card or take out an extra loan to attend a conference, what you won’t ever hear me saying is, “Oh I can’t go because I really should be putting this conference registration fee towards my debt.” And on that same note, Jam will play soccer, participate in gymnastics, go on school trips, take piano lessons, and everything else without a thought being given to who and how much I owe.
I’m managing my debt. My debt is not managing me.