3 Times It’s Okay to Spend While Paying off Debt


Do you ever feel guilty for wanting to spend while paying off debt? That's normal, but here are 3 occasions when it makes sense to allow yourself to spend.When my husband and I were serious about paying off our $45,000 debt, we cut a lot of excess spending from our budget. We made a lot of big sacrifices in an effort to get rid of the debt monster, such as downsizing from a one-bedroom apartment to a studio, postponing our honeymoon for several years, and driving cars that were 10+ years old.

It can be hard to spend money on yourself when you’re paying off debt. You feel guilt for any non-essential purchase made because that’s how you got into debt in the first place.

While many feel that you shouldn’t spend any money on non-essential items during your debt repayment journey, it can actually have the opposite effect and make you eventually go crazy with spending.

It’s similar to going off the rails on your diet after an extremely restrictive phase. In debt repayment, just like losing weight permanently, slow and steady wins the race.

Give yourself permission to spend on occasion by following these simple guidelines for spending while you’re paying off debt.

1. The Proverbial Carrot

Did you just reach a milestone in your debt repayment journey? It’s okay to congratulate yourself for reaching an important milestone, whether it’s a debt repayment mini-goal or increasing your income.

The trick to celebrating is to keep the reward, or the proverbial carrot in this case, to a minimum and to pay for it with cash.

For example, if you’ve been putting $100 a week toward your debt, and you finally got it under the $10,000 mark, it wouldn’t horribly deter your progress to take one week off and use the $100 to treat yourself to a nice dinner, a fancy dress, or a spa treatment.

These small indulgences can be the “carrot” you need to keep helping you pay off debt.

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2. Spend Money to Earn Money

Sometimes it takes money to make money. Would cutting out some time-consuming minutiae from your everyday life help you gain valuable hours to earn more money?

If you can earn more by having more time to devote to your income (and thus increase debt repayment), and outsourcing some time-consuming chores, it may make sense to spend money to earn (more) money. For example, a virtual assistant could help take your business to the next level by finding leads, responding to emails, and managing other items.

3. Emergencies & Life Events

During your debt repayment journey, you’ll have times where you have to make tough decisions that may derail your plans. Take these moments for the bumps in the road that they are rather than throw your hands up in the air and yell, “I give up.”

My husband and I ran into many, many of these hair-pulling occasions while we were trying to pay off debt. At one point, my husband was injured playing soccer and couldn’t work for six weeks, sending our debt repayment into a tailspin. We had to use every penny we had just to pay our bills, not to mention the hospital bills we incurred.

Sometimes these medical emergencies, as well as other unforeseen life events, happen. Don’t forgo important events, like your best friend’s wedding, for the sake of paying off your debt a few weeks early. Sometimes it’s worth the sacrifice to extend your debt repayment plan if it means you can partake in important life events, or pay for an unexpected emergency.

The trick to sticking with your debt repayment journey is to accept that these life events and emergencies will happen and don’t let them derail your progress. Just because you’re paying off debt doesn’t mean you have to live on ramen noodles to do so.

Do you think it’s okay to spend while paying off debt? What circumstances warrant spending? If you’ve paid off debt, did you allow yourself “fun” money?