Woman at a music festival

Financial Strategies

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015 at 3:59 pm in New Leaf Entertainment Archives by Ben Paris.

Just because you’re drowning in debt and feel as though your world is ending because you are broke, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun!
Alas, being in debt is not laughing matter however, don’t let the crushing weight of impending bankruptcy ruin your mood.

All joking aside, how do you stop debt from being a downer in your life?

If you haven’t sought help to eradicate and/or consolidate your debt, do it today and you’ll be on the path to living your best life. While you may associate having fun with spending money, it’s time to let that ship sail. Heck, it might even be time to shoot a flaming arrow at said ship and watch it go up in flames before it sinks to a watery grave.
But enough with the metaphors — having fun really is a state of mind.

Fake it till you make!

This doesn’t mean you should pretend to have money when you really don’t. What it means is, you gotta tell yourself that you don’t need to spend money to have fun. Because the truth is, you really don’t. With a little bit of digging, there are plenty of activities, classes and fitness groups you can join that aren’t going to cost you or put you further in debt.

Most Australian councils offer free courses in crafts, photography and the internet. Plus, there are always free music events on weekends in parks and even pubs. Invite your friends to bring a plate and spend the afternoon outdoors listening to music. If you love the theatre, a bit of a search online should bring up free, or inexpensive plays to attend in most capital cities.

Another great way to not let debt ruin your life is to take up a sport — nothing too competitive. Frisbee or lawn bowls are always winners, plus they’re social. If you don’t own a lawn bowls set, use tennis balls or make your own out of aluminium foil or newspapers that no one reads anymore.

To spice things up in frisbee, invite 13 of your closest friends to play Ultimate with you. Ultimate is a non-contact, self-refereed sport played between two teams of seven players where each team defends its end zone. Google it — not only is it fun and will get you moving, it’s free!

Other inexpensive or free things to do include:

  • Get a library card: Free books for all your friends! And you, of course, but libraries also let you borrow audio books, CDs, and DVDs. You can also use the internet for free there and, if it’s a really big library and you can’t afford to have your a/c running in summer, you could find a quiet place to take a nap. Win-win.
  • Take an MIT OpenCourseWare online class: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology put most of its undergraduate and even some of its graduate course materials online in 2002. Now there are more than 2000 free courses online to choose from and include topics like aerospace engineering and Chinese. You could make your own airplane while paying off your debt! Ok, maybe not but it’s still possible.
  • Take up jogging: Apparently, you just run.
  • Start a blog or write a book: Everyone thinks they’re a writer nowadays and no one reads newspapers anymore so why not put your ideas online for the world to enjoy? Plus, you can write about whatever you want — from underwater basket weaving to how to get chewy out of your hair, the internet is your oyster.
  • Expand your horizons: Most museums and art galleries are free to enter and usually only ask for a gold coin donation. Soak up all the culture so later, when you’re in the park, playing Ultimate with your mates, you can discuss the works of Gauguin or Matisse and actually know what you’re talking about.

Now that you’ve found some free and fun activities to keep your body and mind active, how do you stay motivated to keep chipping away at your debt?

First of all, don’t give up.

You’re on the road to being debt free, so keep going and never, ever give up. No one is perfect and you may slip up here and there but try not to beat yourself up over this.

Second, it may help you to track each day, each week, or each month, how much you’ve spent, and saved.

Get yourself a cheap calendar and stick it somewhere you’ll see it every day. Start writing down what you spend each day and at the end of the week, tally it up. At the start of the next week, see if you can bring that number down. Even if it’s only by a few dollars, keep working each week to see how little you can actually live on.
In most people’s experiences, the key to successfully decrease your spending is diligently tracking it so you can see where your money is going and be able to budget accordingly. If you’re not a fan of calendars with motivational kittens in them, use a diary or a spreadsheet, it doesn’t matter — but tracking your spending will really help you see what your spending habits are like and will (hopefully) keep you motivated to eradicate your debt sooner rather than later.

Third, get a sponsor.

Kind of like Alcoholics Anonymous but with alcohol — unless of course, your weakness is having a few and then online shopping. If this is you, steer clear of the wine or unplug your wifi. For a sponsor, ask a close friend or, if you trust them enough to not judge you while also holding you accountable, your partner or (cue doom music) your mum — you know she’ll tell the truth. Having another person to pep talk you through your journey or talk you down from the ledge when you’re about to spend $200 on another pair of jeans, is invaluable.

Finally, be kind to yourself.

It’s never to late to reclaim your life and get your power back. Remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes while also patting yourself on the back for taking steps to right your wrongs. The saying goes: “You’re your own worst enemy” but why not be your own best friend and start living the life you want, debt free.


Ben Paris

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