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Life on a Budget. Am I Too Strict?

If any of you know me, you know that I absolutely LOVE to golf. I’ve been playing since I was about 12 years old and it came pretty naturally to me. Living in Michigan had its hindrances on my success though. I mean, when the weather is only warm enough for 4 months out of the year to play golf, it makes it pretty tough to get into a groove and increase your skill level. Solution? Time to move to Florida, the Sunshine State.

I had dreams of buying a membership at the local club and playing golf every day. My golf game would definitely improve if I played every day, right? There was only one problem: money. Life is expensive! Since I’ve moved to Florida, I think I can count the number of times I’ve played golf on one hand! So, hitting the golf course 5 times in 3 years….as you have probably guessed, my golf game has certainly not improved.

When my wife and I got married (about a year and a half ago), we suddenly realised how much debt we had. It was not a good feeling. Immediately, we tightened our financial belt and have had only limited amounts of fun since then.

Now don’t get me wrong, life is still fun, but it’s a different kind of fun. Rather than going to an expensive hotel as a get-away for the weekend, we’ll have a picnic on the beach. Instead of going to watch the Miami Heat play, we’ll go out and support the local softball team. And, instead of golfing every weekend, we might go to the driving range once a month. It just seems a bit dull doesn’t it?

While we continue to sacrifice and live a frugal lifestyle in order to pay off our debts, I wonder if we’re taking it too far? Are you in the process of paying off debts? What are your rules for entertainment expenses? Have you made it your goal to get out of debt as soon as possible, or are you allowing yourself a few luxuries along the way?

Budget Money


My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. I think a few luxuries are OK or else you can get burned out.

    • I think you’re right. We are definitely on the brink of getting burned out. But I’m looking ahead to setting up the emergency fund, and then the downpayment for a house (at least 20%). So, I feel like if we get burned out now, we’re never going to hit our goals!

  2. If you feel like your quality of life is suffering, then you should loosen up a bit. But if you are able to do these things and still be happy, then don’t worry about it!
    We haven’t done any traveling in a while, and don’t have any plans to do it. But that is one thing we are happy giving up for the short term as we pay off debt. Other things, like eating out on weekends, we indulge in because it improves the quality of our daily lives (we hate cooking). All about the pick and choose, I guess.

    • I agree. If my wife and I start to get on edge because we are living so tight, then it might be time to loosen some things up. We might have to do that pretty soon.

  3. If you are in consumer debt, the focus really should be on paying down that debt. Stretch the money as far as it goes, though if you love golf enough that you moved to be able to play more of it, then I think you could be doing yourself a disservice by restricting yourself in that way. I agree with retirebyforty that you do need to avoid getting burnt out, so for some things it’s ok. As long as you know when to draw the line and it doesn’t become “I need a $5000 cruise so I don’t get burnt out, and you’ll be fine. 🙂

    • Haha! Yeah, a $5,000 cruise might be a bit extreme, but I do agree. We should allow ourselves some luxuries once in a while. Perhaps some short term rewards for a month well done (of hitting the budget numbers).

  4. Pay your high-interest non-mortgage/non-student loan debt. Then worry about luxuries. If you have consumer debt, you don’t actually *have* the money to go golfing. Loosen up when you’re ready to start on the downpayment for the house. If you are really unable to pay down your bad debt, then at least set up a reward system for meeting goals or bringing in extra side income. Just make sure you don’t reward yourself before you actually get paid, since sometimes side payments are slow in coming.

    And yes, we walked this walk paying off DH’s 8.5% interest loans. Going too far is losing your ability to digest meat. Not having a golf membership is nowhere near that level of sacrifice.

    • Thanks for the comments Nicole! After looking at the budget this month, it looks like we’ll be able to pay off another $1,000, which is great, but I think we can do much better! We’ll be sacrificing for a little while yet – hopefully my golf stroke won’t suffer too much from lack of play 😉

  5. Doing things that don’t cost money (or that are very cheap i.e. only gas money) tend to be much more fun, in my opinion. There aren’t expectations, you don’t have to make reservations, you can change your plans, and if things don’t turn out was free! Don’t regret the things you can’t do, revel in the things that you can do! Going to the beach, local softball, just being outdoors is FUN! You live in Florida, there are only so many days a year that are really inhospitable (except when it is really rainy) so enjoy life, and don’t worry so much about sacrificing “fun” to pay off your debts 🙂 Get a croquet set…

    • Haha! A croquet set eh? I suppose we could do that. You are right though. There are plenty of things that we could do without a lot of money. We could always go to the beach (free), play some tennis (free), or swim in the pool (also free). I should really stop my griping huh? Thanks Stacey!

  6. Getting out of debt requires discipline, but that doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to a round of golf or a night out from time to time. Just make sure it fits within your budget and your goals. If you are too strict with being frugal you risk letting life pass you by sometimes.

    I’m frugal too, but only most (not all) of the time and only about most (not all) things. I do it so that I can splurge on occasion.

    • I do agree with what you’re saying. We have a large enough food budget where we can go out from time to time. But actually, since we can see a light at the end of the tunnel, my wife and I have decided to tighten the reigns even more! For the next three months, we’re eliminating our fun money and clothes money in order to eliminate all of our debts! After that, we’ll definitely treat ourselves. 🙂

  7. Frugal can still be fun…gather with others who are doing the same thing. Connections with other people is important and you can do Barbeques with each one bringing their own meat and a side dish to share; picnics on the beach, beach volleyball, babysit for each other, play board games, rent a movie, etc

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