Earlier this week, Aaron asked whether repaying debt should be an obsession.
I replied that for some people, “gazelle intensity” makes more sense. (Trent from The Simple Dollar is one of these folks.) For others — including myself — it's important to exercise balance, to allow a budget for fun.
Everyone who opts for a life of thrift can benefit from finding one or two things that make them feel “rich”. These indulgences don't have to cost a lot of money — they just need to provide mental relief, an escape of sorts. While browsing through old conversations at Wesabe, I stumbled on a related question from Rebecca2Lexington, who asks, “What makes you feel rich while being frugal?”
Ok, let's get some creative juices flowing and share with some great ideas to feel abundance while paying off debt. We have been paying down debt and staying on budget for several months now. Tell us about your mini splurges or thoughts are that keep you going.
This is a great question. It gets to the heart of what frugality is all about: establishing priorities so that you're able to spend on the things that matter to you while ruthlessly cutting the things that do not. The 59 comments in the Wesabe discussion include suggestions like:
- Potluck dinners with friends
- “Spending the $10 to clean my car thoroughly, inside and out, but especially the inside.” (I know from first-hand experience that this is also a great way to kill the new-car itch.)
- Getting your hair done at a beauty school or getting a massage at a massage school.
- Debtkid says that a $2 firelog makes him feel cozy.
- Several people mentioned prepaying their mortgage or paying down credit card debt or contributing to mutual funds as actions that make them feel rich.
- Allese offered two great ideas: spending time outdoors and organizing her home. A clean home can make a huge difference in how you perceive your environment.
For me, food is an important part of my lifestyle. I'm able to cut back on clothes and books and entertainment, but I'm unwilling to economize on food. Why? Because when I eat well, I feel wealthy. Being able to spend $15 on my favorite pasta dish at Gino's makes me feel rich even when the rest of my expenses are cut to the bone.
But one thing that has helped me feel richer than anything else: Quitting my day job. For the past 15 months, I've worked from home. I'm actually working longer hours than I did at the box factory, but I don't mind. I have the freedom to go for a 6-mile run at 10 a.m. I can go to lunch with a friend. I can take a break to walk to the library. If I feel like taking a hot bath at 2 p.m., nobody's going to stop me. Though I'm working long hours, the freedom to structure my life the way I want it makes me feel rich. And it doesn't cost me a dime.
What about you? What makes you feel rich while being frugal? What mini splurges keep you going? What about cost-free ways to feel rich? I'm not looking for all of your indulgences — just the ones that make you feel as if you have a greater disposable income than you really do.
Author: J.D. Roth
In 2006, J.D. founded Get Rich Slowly to document his quest to get out of debt. Over time, he learned how to save and how to invest. Today, he's managed to reach early retirement! He wants to help you master your money — and your life. No scams. No gimmicks. Just smart money advice to help you reach your goals.