Single Mom Money: It's Okay to Have Fun, Too

Friday, March 25, 2016

I've been focused on paying down debt since I moved out on my own back in September 2015. It was the first time during my relationship/marriage where I was solely responsible for MY money. In my marriage, I sucked at tracking finances and budgeting, so my ex was in charge of it. But now that we were going through a divorce and my money didn't need to be shared and I had to balance my checkbook, I realized that my financial situation was not ideal. I had a bit of debt - most of it was student loans that could not be discharged from my bankruptcy in 2011 (see, I suck at money) but some of it was a brand new car purchased in 2012 and one was a credit card. If I wanted to do all the things I dreamed of when I was married (buy a home, get my girls in a great school district, etc) then I needed to get rid of this debt.

I've been following the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover plan - there are 7 steps and you knock them down until you're financially secure. I'm on baby step 2 which is snowballing all of my debt until it's paid off which I estimate will be some time in 2018 (and that includes all of my student loan debt, car and credit card). I've been pretty focused and have so far paid off 1 student loan and 1 personal loan. I'm about $350 away from paying off a second student loan. But I'm a spender at heart, and there are so many times during the day where I get that itch to spend. Do the girls need clothes? Do I need something? Maybe I can get a new car? Ugh. No, no, no. I do not need any of it!

I also do not want to spend the next 2-3 years of my post-divorce life being miserable. I want to have experiences and fun with my girls and my friends and family. I want to make memories and I don't want to miss out on things. I've realized there's a balance, and I have a need to not feel deprived - even if the end goal is financial freedom. So I started saving money after committing to going on a trip with my friends this spring. It'd be overnight so I'd have to pay for lodging, food and activities. So far, I have around $600 saved up for this trip, and every time I look at it sitting in my savings account, I get a lump in my throat wondering if it should be going to a debt. Am I not being smart by routing that money somewhere else and not using it to pay off a student loan?

It's important to remember there's a need for balance. I'm not charging this trip. I've saved for it. And it's something that I desperately need...I can't tell you the last time I had a real vacation. As you're paying off debt, you're the one that's setting the pace. Yes, that $600 could go to a debt and that would be wonderful to pay off a student loan right this very second. BUT! Emotionally, personally, etc. I need this trip. I need adventure and happy times. I need to get out of every day life and I'm excited about it! Sometimes it's okay to have fun, too. Even if that fun has a cost associated with it. Be reasonable and don't dig yourself deeper into debt - but remember that life is short. Make memories and go on that trip if you can. You're spending $600 to feed your soul and that's priceless.

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