If I had to describe in one word how I felt while enrolled in a debt consolidation program, I would use the word restricted.

Paying back our credit card debt through our monthly program payment took a huge chunk of money out of our budget. We are constantly looking for ways to cut costs and save money.

In other words, we're always trying to get by with less.

Reclining in my favorite chair after work with my eyes closed I wondered if my feeling of restriction was real, if I was really that bad off.

I started to make a list of things that would sustain life, as well as make it enjoyable. This is not just a list of necessities, but a list of things on a larger scope as to what I would like to have to NOT feel restricted.

1.) Home: A person has to have shelter, especially living in a place like Minnesota. We own a comfortable home and even though it may have been easier on our budget if we would have downsized, we're still living in the home we designed and built in 2004.

2.) Transportation: We have reliable vehicles to take us to work, to visit family, or anywhere else we want to go. They may not be flashy, but they get us to our destination.

3.) Food: We've worked very hard to learn how to be as efficient as possible with our grocery budget. We can now easily put together a nice meal plan with one or two special meals each week that we all enjoy. We even treat ourselves to the occasional dinner out at a restaurant.

4.) Cable TV: Over the years we've cut down our cable TV subscription significantly, but what we have allows us to watch all of our favorite shows including sports, cooking, history, music and reality TV it is a source of entertainment and information.

5.) Broadband Internet: Speaking of information, I enjoy time each day surfing the internet reading about a broad range of topics. I also use this access to take advantage of a flexible work schedule and do some work from home. It also enables me to have online blogging as my part-time secondary career.

6.) Date Money: Every now and then I'd like to be able to take the family to a movie, or my wife to the comedy club.

7.) Me Money: I have passions and hobbies that I enjoy doing. I'd like to enter the occasional running race, or buy a piece of meat to throw on my smoker.

After making my mental list, I realized that even though we may have had to cut back on many of these things (some more than other), they all have continued to exist in our budget throughout our debt consolidation plan.

This feeling of restriction is really just my own rebellion about having to have to say, "No" to myself and keep track of how we spend our money. 

My exercise gave me a renewed thankfulness for what I have, and how lucky I truly am to still be able to enjoy more than just the base necessities in life. 

I truly have nothing to complain about.

How has being enrolled in a debt consolidation program made you feel? 

Have you ever made a list of what you need to have to be happy?

Related Links:

Laughing Your Way to Entertainment Savings

Socializing on a Budget

In Debt...and Ready to Party!


Travis Pizel, debt management plan customer with leading provider of debt relief, CareOne Services, Inc.Travis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the A Straight Talk on Debt blog. He is also a very active member of the CareOne community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). Travis candidly shares his personal journey to pay off his debt and the tips he's learned along the way. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family in Minnesota. You can also read more from Travis on the Enemy of Debt blog, where he is a featured blogger. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

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