“I just wanted to move on and start paying off the smaller debts first, so I could be confident in myself and my ability to handle my biggest debt,” she explains. “It’s the technique I’ve used throughout my career. It worked really, really well for me.
Next came budgeting: she started checking her bank account weekly to keep an eye on her. real spending and budgeting every Sunday. “It really helped me be accountable for my money,” she says. “Because for me, it’s very easy to be out of sight, out of mind.”
After each step, treat yourself.
“When you’re paying off a debt, it’s emotionally draining,” Dang says. “In fact, it’s eating away at your life. To combat this, she indulged herself every time she paid off a debt or achieved some sort of financial milestone.
“They weren’t big Louis Vuitton bags or anything,” she says. But rewarding herself with a massage, a nice dinner — more affordable luxuries — helped keep her excited and motivated. “You have to find a way to keep pushing yourself forward or you’ll give up,” she says.
You don’t have to sacrifice everything.
At the start of her savings journey, Dang felt like she was making sacrifices to pay off her debt, so much so that she was losing vigor. Her mindset changed after she started budgeting in a way that fit her lifestyle.
“I would budget for things that traditional financiers could strongly do not recommend, as I kept it in my monthly facials and eyelash extensions,” she says. (She offset the expense by picking up side shoves, like dog-sitting and delivering for Postmates.) “Things like that are so important to me and my self-care. I added this to my budget to ensure that each month I could treat myself while paying above my minimum and meeting my financial goals.
just like restrictive diets often fail in the long run, an overly rigid debt reduction plan no doubt is not sustainable. (Pledge to spend no dollars on indulgence is like swearing to ingest zero grams of sugar: either way, you’ll probably crave “nothing” and crash dramatically. ) To promote long-term success, budget for small expenses” so you don’t feel deprived. Below, Dang shares her favorites.
Best Pickup $5 or Less: A free for me is just to go out and walk my dog or go to the park. Whenever I need to decompress, going out and walking around my neighborhood is what I do.
A birthday present under $20 that seems expensive: I like a good candle. You can definitely find some really good candles for $20. I don’t buy candles for myself, all the candles I have are gifts, so it’s so exciting for me when I have one. I try to shop local, so every time I walk into one of my stores and see something I might like, I assume someone else is going to like it. I always buy several.