A few weeks ago I shared my “Five Tricks for Painless Debt Payoff“. Right after posting it, I put the tricks to use here at home. I quickly found out that one of those tricks stood out for me above all others. It has led me to pay off hundreds of dollars of our debt this month, putting us ahead of our expected freedom date, and saving us significant amounts of interest.
The surprisingly useful trick was #3:
Whenever you decide not to make a purchase, immediately take that amount and put it towards the debt.
Or as we’ve come to call it, #SpenditDown.
What we’ve discovered is, the effect of SpendingitDown actually carries the same feeling of momentary euphoria that buying something does, with the added bonus of improving our financial situation.
How does it work? It’s really easy. Every time you are about to buy something “extra”, stop, figure out what you almost spent, and immediately put that amount toward your debt. Then high-five the nearest person.
- Tempted to order pizza? Make home-made, take $25 and #SpenditDown.
- About to stop at Bulk Barn for a post-library treat? Go home and eat chocolate chips, take $15 and #SpenditDown.
- Longing for a fancy bar of soap? Use up what you’ve got in the cupboard, take $6 and #SpenditDown.
You may have to try it to believe it, but it’s actually fun for the whole family! The kids were thrilled that I let them #SpenditDown after we opted for home-made popcorn instead of making a trip to the corner store for chips. I logged into my online banking, my little guy dutifully typed in $5, and I invited him to hit enter. When it was my daughter’s turn, she looked up with a twinkle in her eye, typed in 1-5, and hit enter. Really, it was more fun than an extra toy at the second-hand store.
One day we opted against another corner store trip, and my son asked in his sweet 7-year-old voice, “Mommy, can I Spend it Down?”
I think the success of this method is that it gives a reason and a framework for diverting funds towards paying off debt. You don’t even realize how much extra you’re spending until you start playing the game. It disrupts automatic habits of spending, while actually making you feel *good* instead of guilty, and at the same time, making progress toward debt freedom.
Without a reason and a framework, you will always tell yourself, “We will just put all our extra money toward our debt.” The problem is, in reality,
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS EXTRA MONEY!
When it comes to the end of the month, if you’re anything like me, there’s never much extra left over, and if there is, it’s hard to justify putting it toward debt when “you never know if you might need it”.
By playing the game, you have a chance every day to put extra funds towards your debt.
So, we’ve been having a lot of fun with this. The surprising thing was, when I did my big Debt Repayment Round-Up, I only saw this method mentioned in one or two articles.
The world needs to learn how to #SpenditDown! Will you help me by posting when you decide to #SpenditDown? You can link back to this post so people know what you’re talking about, and help me inspire a revolution of debt freedom!