Debt-reduction plans will really only succeed when coupled with recreational activities. When you tighten your financial belt, put your nose to the grind and start applying yourself to getting out of debt, you may quickly lose steam if you don’t factor in a healthy dose of recreation and leisure time. In other words, it should form part of a financial plan.
When you review your monthly obligations, you allot funds for typical mandatory costs such as; rent/mortgage, utilities, food, and transport. In the early stages of your debt-reduction plan, you will still be working from a deficit position until the balance sheet tips into the “green” or credit zone. Recreation and leisure should be seen as a non-negotiable monthly expense. It is the amount you choose to set aside for entertainment or downtime that differs. Initially, there will be a need to look at activities that will cost you very little or nothing at all. Eating out, for example, is not a good idea, at least not at the start of your journey to becoming debt-free. Some low-cost recreation or leisure activities could be:
- Streaming movies (great for the family) through low monthly memberships. If streaming is not an option, taking out DVDs at a local library or community centre may be an alternative.
- Popcorn and storytelling night
- Games night – have a digital competition with your children, partner or friends
- Board games Saturday (board games are making a comeback!)
- Sports activities such as hikes, walks, cycling or swimming
- Reading and discussion night or weekend
You get the idea. Nevertheless, when reaching an important debt-reduction milestone, celebrations are in order. This could be an opportunity for eating out provided you don’t go overboard and keep spending in check! This can be achieved by using cash only, which means, that you set aside an envelope for funds for eating out ahead of time (for example $10-15 each month). The idea of setting aside actual cash may sound from another century yet there’s much to be said for using hard, visible cash. You know exactly what you have in hand and won’t go beyond that amount; this is generally not so when using debit cards (credit cards are definitely not an option!)
Recreational activities for a family, couple or single person will differ and will require a bit of creative thinking. For the not so imaginative types; libraries offer good resources on activities that are appropriate to one’s personal situation. Libraries and community centres also publish calendars of events, available online in most cases. An online search for free or low-cost activities will also generate hundreds of useful links, worth looking into.
My point is that you don’t want to overlook the vital aspect of recreation and allow time to recharge your batteries. It’s a sure way to keep positive and energetic in your pursuit of a debt-free life. A side benefit is that seeing recreation as a necessary part of your life gives you permission to embrace it guilt-free. In my own journey to becoming debt-free, it helped me stay the course when the going got tough. I hope that you will find it a beneficial and liberating step to getting out of debt.