How We Pay Off Debt While Fighting Temptations

by Khaleef "Fat Guy" Crumbley on May 15, 2011

in Debt Repayment

Pay Off Debt

A while back I wrote about being tempted to buy pizza, and instead eating a quick meal at home to save money. I also mentioned that I immediately made an online payment to one of our creditors, since we didn’t spend the money on pizza. When we think about how to pay off debt quickly, we have found this to be one of our greatest weapons!

At that time, I promised to go more into detail on how to pay off debt and fight the temptation to splurge at the same time.

Fighting Temptations By Considering Opportunity Cost

As someone trained in economics, I try to consider the opportunity cost of every action – especially when it comes to spending money. So, when we are tempted to splurge on something, we try to think of what we could do with that money instead.

The first thing that comes to our mind is paying off debt! Besides our continual sanctification and growth in God, the areas in which we desire to see change the most is weight and debt! So, if the temptation revolves around eating out, we actually have two different things to focus on.

First, we will be going in the wrong direction in regards to weight! Second, we could use the money to pay down our debt, rather than on a temporary pleasure.

So, after thinking about all of the better uses which we have for the money (paying one of a number of creditors), it makes it much more difficult to give in to temptation. Fighting temptations by thinking about the opportunity cost, adds another dynamic to the battle!

Now, not only do we have the strong desire to exercise discipline that is keeping us from giving in, but we also have the desire to spend our money in a much more prudent manner!

How To Pay Off Debt

We have covered what motivations we use when fighting temptations (discipline and opportunity cost). Now I will discuss exactly how we go from being tempted to paying off debt!

Using Budget Surplus To Pay Off Debt

When we set up our budget, we tried to account for every penny. However, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Since we have a few variable bills that we pay each month (mainly gas and utilities), we sometimes have a surplus in our monthly finances (it’s rarely a deficit, because I use high estimates).

Our current debt management plan has us sending extra payments to our “highest priority” creditor throughout the month. We would like to send more, but since our normal living expenses takes up all of our other money, we send what we can for now.

So, when we get the urge to spend money that’s not a part of our budget, that money is coming from somewhere! If we can magically find extra money in our budget to buy a pizza or Taco Bell, then we need to be smart and use that money to pay off debt!

So, when we want to go out to eat and spend $30 – $50 (depending on the restaurant), we fight that urge and use the money to pay off debt instead.

Make An Immediate Payment

Once we decide to pay off debt instead of splurging, I immediately go to our bank’s website and set up a payment for the amount of the item we wanted to buy! For instance, if we want to go to a restaurant and pay $50 for a meal, I will instead, send a $50 payment to our credit card with the highest interest rate!

If we wait until the next payment due date, we may have another moment of weakness and spend our money on something foolish! By setting up the online payment immediately, it leaves no room for second guessing!

If we claim that getting out of debt is such a high priority, then we need to be willing to make sacrifices, and be disciplined enough to use all of our extra money for this purpose!

photo by Alan Cleaver

Reader Questions

  1. If you decide not to give in to temptation, how do you then use that money?
  2. What ways do you have of finding extra money to accomplish your financial goals?
  3. Do you find that it helps to keep your goals in front of you? Maybe write them out and hang them on the refrigerator?

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