Debt and the Balancing Equation

Paidtwice wrote an interesting post about balancing tomorrow’s needs with today’s enjoyment. What I took away from it is that it’s not ALWAYS best to sacrifice everything today in favor of saving money for tomorrow. Today is a valid time to spend money, too, so instead of always defaulting to saving our money for the future, we should consciously balance the two.

I agree. I read a great PF book some years ago called Money Wise and Spiritually Rich, and I think I’m correct in attributing to it a story of an older couple who had saved almost all of their money their entire lives. Sadly, they felt they had squandered their youth in penury and sacrificed too much.

I can’t remember all of the details of the story, but I remember it really resonated with me. Life is short, in a way, and though we shouldn’t be wasteful, rash, or short-sighted, we should definitely make the most of today. For The Fiery One and me, that means setting aside some money for traveling every so often. That’s the one thing that’s always completely worth it to us.

All of that said, there was one thing I wanted to add to the topic of balance:

Debt changes the balancing equation by siding with the future. Until we have our student loans paid off, we feel more comfortable erring on the side of paying off our debt for freedom’s sake.

For example, we were planning to do a big trip for Spring Break, but decided that all of our student debt is too prohibitive for us to feel good about such a large, unnecessary expenditure. Instead, we got creative and crafted a smaller, less glamorous trip for a quarter of the cost. It’s what our consciences will allow, and we’ll enjoy it all the more because we’ll be regret-free.

It’s hard to enjoy spending money when you feel guilty, knowing you’re not allocating your money wisely. In our case, any debt besides a mortgage weighs heavily on our souls. When we graduate and start working full time, we’re not going to be thinking a lot about the balancing act. We’re going to be paying off as much of our subsidized student loans as we can in the six-month window before they start accruing interest (6.8% is not happiness).

In a strange way, it’s kind of nice to know so clearly how we want to allocate all of our extra money until our debt is gone. It’ll be more difficult to balance things once we’re in the clear and actually saving again.

Explore posts in the same categories: Frugal Living, Savings, Investing, and Money

2 Comments on “Debt and the Balancing Equation”

  1. Balance is something we all struggle with. Live too much today and have nothing for the future or save too much for a future that never happens. Both are risks we weigh, trying to find some happy middle. I think you are on the right track with your vacation plans, you scaled down to something more affordable but didn’t put off the trip entirely. I bet you’ll enjoy and value the ‘smaller’ vacation just as much. I’ve gone camping and I’ve gone to Europe, both hold special memories for me.

  2. K-money Says:

    I agree 100%. I cherish the memories of the less expensive local weekend getaway as much as my travels to Europe and Asia. I also allow myself nice things in moderation. Part of the frugal mindset is lowering the spending threshold necessary for enjoyment. You are still satisfied, only it cost less.

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