The Truth About What You Want vs. What You Can Afford

Paying down debt doesn’t mean you have to give up all of life’s luxuries. But it might mean postponing them.

There’s the lifestyle you want, the lifestyle you can afford and the lifestyle you’re choosing to afford.

The Truth About What You Want vs. What You Can Afford // Ask Allea

The Lifestyle You Want

I want to be debt free. But honestly, I also look forward to the day when I can be a little less frugal.

I grew up frugal. I’m good at it. And it’s way easier to say “no” to almost everything, spending little or nothing, so at least I know I’m not going over budget or need to pull money from another budget to fund my HomeGoods “browsing.”

I’m 28 now. I’ve been living with roommates for the last 6 years, since graduating from college. What I really want (what I really really want) is to get an apartment by myself.

Related: Cheap Rent in Your 20’s: Holding On For All It's Worth

To have the freedom to come and go...
To have people over whenever I want...
To watch When Calls the Heart alone at 3am... (#hearties)

And I look forward to the day when I have a space to decorate. Like, to actually spend some money, time and intentionality decorating a space of my own.

Can I be Joanna Gaines, pretty please?

Sure, I could find the money in my budget to do some decorating now, but it’s not the same. I’m still living in somebody else’s house. I’ll hold out until I have a place of my own.

The Lifestyle You Can Afford

There’s wiggle room on how much I put toward my debt each month, since I’m actually paying way more than the minimum requirement (to get those bad boys taken care of!). So technically, I could afford to get an apartment by myself.

Related: Perks of Paying Off Debt Fast

I could pull $200 from my debt repayment budget each month and make it happen. But with only $6100 left in student loan debt, I have a goal to be completely debt free in 12 months. It’s possible, as long as I keep putting $500-550 toward my loans each month (gulp, that’s so much money).

When I look at my financial goals, I get antsy. I want my student loans paid off. Not because I want to save on interest (because the difference between paying them off in 12 months or 18 months is only $63 in interest), but because I want to have it off of my plate.

It’ll be easier — both mentally and financially — to afford an apartment on my own once I don’t have my student loans demanding my money and attention. #freedom

Related: Setting Financial Goals That Make Sense for You

The Lifestyle You're Choosing to Afford

I’m keeping things scrappy. With a 12-month student loan payoff goal in sight, I’m going to keep things frugal.

When I’m debt free, maybe I’ll buy more vanilla lattes. In the meantime, I’ll stick with my $1.75 black coffee.

When I’m debt free, maybe I’ll buy more fancy snacks from Trader Joe’s. In the meantime, I’ll buy their $3 fancy cheese every few trips to the store to hold me over.

When I’m debt free, maybe I’ll dye my hair more than once every three years.

When I’m debt free, I’ll reassess the housing situation. In the meantime, I’ll get creative and live with my friend who has too much house for one person. We get to keep each other company, yet have our own spaces. And I get to keep my housing expenses low, so I can pay off my debt “on schedule.”

Sure, I could technically afford to live a lifestyle I want, but I’m putting my financial goals first. I’m choosing to live below my “means,” so I can accelerate my debt repayment.

Once I pay off my debt, then I’ll know that each dollar I save (cuz let’s be honest, I’ll still be a Frugal Fannie) will be in my pocket. My money can be stay with me — my savings, in my Trader Joe’s shopping cart or busy fulfilling my Amazon wish list.

The end is near. My debt is only 12 months from being paid off, and I’m looking forward to dipping into a few more of life’s luxuries (at least, more often) when that time comes.

What are some luxuries you’re holding out to buy or experience, once your debt is paid off?

P.S. You know I’m not about being frugal 100% of the time, right? I’m all about paying down debt and still having a life. I just prefer having marginally “less of a life” while I get there ;)