I’m breaking my three year spending ban in an enormous way… my hubby and I are adopting a pug puppy in June.  We both adore pugs, and we’ve wanted to adopt one for a long time.  Our original plan was to wait a few years until all of our student loans are paid off and we become homeowners.

We had planned to wait to adopt a pug for two reasons – one, it’s expensive, and two, my parents had given us a firm “no” when we asked if we could add another creature to our already crowded home (my hubby and I live with my mom, step dad, older brother, two crazy cats, and one grumpy chihuahua).

Recently, my mom’s friend brought over her new puppy, Lucy.  She’s the cutest thing ever.  Buddy (the chihuahua) had an awesome time running and playing with Lucy (who couldn’t keep up with him…Buddy is a ridiculously fast runner!).  Buddy adored Lucy and didn’t even get mad when she played with his favorite toys and jumped all over his humans.

lucyI saw an opportunity and seized it.  When my parents were talking about how cute Lucy was and how much fun Buddy had playing with her, I suggested adopting a pug.  Wouldn’t it be nice for Buddy to have another dog to play with?  *Wink, wink*

(He tries to play with the cats, but they won’t have any of that).  By some miracle, my parents, who have been staunchly opposed to get getting another dog for the past few years, agreed.

Here are a couple of frequently asked questions about our decision to become pug parents.

Why are you spending $600 on a dog when you’re still buried in massive debt?

For the past year (since I started the spending ban), I’ve been saying that we don’t “deserve” to have nice things.  We don’t “deserve” new clothes, new cars, dinners out, or vacations.  We “deserve” to get out of debt and finally attain financial freedom.

My opinion has always been that because our debt load is so massive (we started with $117,000 of student loan debt), we cannot afford to splurge AT ALL.

I’ve always thought that if our debt load were smaller and more manageable, it might make sense to take a less extreme approach to debt repayment.

I’ve read articles about other bloggers who managed to travel the world while paying off debt – this sounds amazing, but the key difference between their stories and mine is that my debt load is MUCH higher.

Because our debt is in the six figures, and we earn entry-level salaries, I see extreme frugality as a necessity.  However, I recently read an interesting article that opened my mind to a new perspective.

The author made the opposite argument – she argued that if your debt load is higher, it might make sense to be a little less frugal.  Her reasoning was that if your debt is so massive that it’ll take 10 years to pay off, extreme frugality isn’t sustainable.

If you owe a lower amount (say $20,000), you might be able to pay it off in just a year.  A year of extreme frugality is considerably easier than 10 years of it.

Three years may not sound like that long, but I lived with my parents for two years after grad school before deciding to do the debt snowball.  So it’ll actually be five years of scrimping and being a frugal weirdo…and that’s assuming that we reach our goal of paying off all of our debt by 2018.

It’s entirely possible that we won’t hit our goal – our goal is a little crazy (given our incomes), and reaching it will only be possible if three things occur: we both receive a couple of raises within the next two years, we manage to increase our side hustling income, and neither of our 15 year old vehicles (which are paid off) break down.

All of this got me thinking that maybe I’m a bit too hard on myself sometimes, and maybe it’s okay to have something (that costs money) that will bring me joy for the next few years (and for many more years to come) while I scrimp like crazy to pay off my debt.

There’s a fine line between wanting something that will bring joy to your life and feeling that you “deserve” to have nice things once in a while.  I don’t want to fall into this “I deserve it” trap – I’ve seen too many people bury themselves in credit card debt because of this type of thinking.

I feel getting a pug will be worthwhile because another pet will bring joy to our lives for many years to come.  A new car, new wardrobe, or vacation would not bring us lasting joy.

Are you still on a three year spending ban?

Yes.  It may sound a little crazy to say that I’m on a three year spending ban and then drop $600 on an adoption fee (not to mention all of the other costs associated with becoming a pug parent – like food, toys, and vet visits).

Personal finance is all about choices.  I choose to not spend any money for three years on non-essentials such as shopping, entertainment, restaurants, and outings with friends.

I am okay with this because none of these things bring any true value to my life.  Sure, going out to dinner or to the movies with friends once in a while would be nice, but I can still have fun with my friends often without spending any money.

Buying clothes, accessories, and useless knickknacks doesn’t really give me joy.  It just clutters up our already crowded home (with five adults and three animals, we have A LOT of stuff and our house is much less “minimalist” than I would like it to be).

My point is that buying a new car, or new clothes, or other meaningless stuff wouldn’t make me happy.  But adopting a little wrinkly pug puppy will bring a lot of joy to our lives for many years to come.  For that reason, I feel it’s worth it to break my spending ban.

Have you ever tried a spending ban?

Other stuff you might like:

3 Bizarre Ways to Save Over $2,000
Why You Need an Emergency Fund – Even if You Live with Your Parents
20 Free Things to do This Weekend
How to Ditch Your Student Loans with the Debt Snowball
Why I’m Grateful for My Student Loan Debt