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I feel like my life has become dull and pointless. I work 5 to 6 days a week, and I make about $28,000 a year. After I pay my bills, I don't have much money left over to do fun things. I go to a matinee movie once a week, and I watch silly videos on YouTube. That's basically the most entertainment I get. Sometimes I ride a bike to the local market. That's how I get my exercise.

I'm grateful that I have an apartment and a job. I just want a more interesting life and more spending money. I have about $1200 of credit card debt, and about $1700 left to pay off my student loan. If I can get all that paid off, my life will be a little bit better.

Is anyone out there in a similar situation?
 

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Not now, but in the past we've had to deal with limited funds.

Keep looking for free and cheap things to do. Find inexpensive hobbies that can entertain you. Shop thrift stores and garage sales to help save money on hobby supplies and whatever else you need/want. Use your library to get free movies to watch at home, free books both fiction and nonfiction. Check with your city for community ed classes that may interest you or with your parks department to see if they offer classes or seminars that might sound like fun. Check your local paper for community events you may want to attend. I know you don't have much free time, but maybe something of interest would work out for you.

When we were a young family, we often got together with friends to play pool at the house of one friend who had a pool table, or we played cards (not for money) or board games at our house or at the homes of other friends, watched movies, etc. We bought cheap pop to serve and made homemade popcorn and listened to music. If we had people over for supper, we served spaghetti or some other inexpensive meal that would serve a lot of people for not much money. Entertaining doesn't have to be expensive or fancy. It's about the company you keep, not the food that's served. :)

We're living proof things get better over time. It sounds like you're just starting out. Be patient. I know that's hard, but you're on the right track by focusing on paying off your debts to better your life. It will be a big weight off your back to get rid of those debts.
 

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Been there, done that, lived to tell about it. You don't need money to do fun things. Yeah, it helps, sure, but it's not absolutely necessary.

I bet there are lots of free and interesting things to do in California. Check libraries and museums for exhibits, lectures, movies and other events. Check universities too. Check with city parks for concerts or sporting events.

Years ago DH lost his job and was out of work for 11 months. We had NO spare money. Like Spirit Deer we entertained ourselves with friends, games, and home made popcorn. Lots of free computer games on the internet, too.

It helps if you have a plan for getting out of debt and for saving. How many months until that credit card and loan are gone? Make yourself a calendar and mark off the progress. You'll be able to see yourself improving and it won't feel so much like you are wallowing in poverty.
 
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It helps if you have a plan for getting out of debt and for saving. How many months until that credit card and loan are gone? Make yourself a calendar and mark off the progress. You'll be able to see yourself improving and it won't feel so much like you are wallowing in poverty.
At the rate I'm going, It's going to take two years for me to get rid of that debt. I think about all the times I wasted money in the past---now that I'm in this situation---and I know that I'm experiencing the consequences of it right now. It's a hard lesson to learn. When I'm in the supermarket, I look for the most inexpensive food I can buy that's reasonably healthy. I've eaten ramen noodles for dinner many times. Sometimes I eat fresh fruit for breakfast---it's also inexpensive.

This has been a challenging year. I've been catching the bus to work. I used to have a car, but I got rid of it because I was spending thousands of dollars on repairs. I have been thinking of ways to cut spending for months.

The only good news I have is this: I have been very careful about making my debt payments on time for the past two years, and my FICO score rose about 70 points. I asked for more credit (for my Visa card) at my credit union and I got approved. I've been going to the dentist a lot and I maxed out my dental insurance coverage---so I had to pay out-of-pocket for my last dental bill. I no longer have pain in my teeth. I'm shocked at how expensive dental procedures are.

If I can be frugal and take better care of my teeth, I'm going to be okay next year. I just feel impatient. Sometimes I enter sweepstakes and wish I could win enough money to pay off my debts.
 

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I was thinking about this some more.

If you can develop a hobby that saves you money, you get bonus points. :) Like learning to cook if you don't know how, or baking your own bread. You get to save money but you also have much better food and a different interest to develop and explore. There's an infinite supply of free recipes online. Many, many, many foods can be made without buying expensive special equipment, although new kitchen toys are always fun. And 'new' can be a treasured gadget found cheap at Goodwill. :) I have lots of those myself.

I recently learned to make my own ciabatta rolls. In calculating the cost, I found out I could make a dozen rolls for under fifty cents, compared to buying day-old ones 6/$3. Quite a difference, and of course the fresh HM ciabatta tastes a million times better. Having that extra $5.50 staying in my pocket doesn't hurt my feelings any either. :D

Fresh home baked foods are always a welcome gift you can give that will save you money, too.
 

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You're learning hard lessons about handling money, but that's okay. That means you're a real grown-up and not an irresponsible person who spends without thinking.

We all have regrets about money. Don't beat yourself up about it, just learn from it and carry on, like it sounds like you're doing.

I remember reading in Dear Abby or Ann Landers once, when someone wrote in about wanting to do something but thinking it would take too much time. The response was that the time was going to pass whether the person did what she wanted to do or not, so why not do it? I think of that advice often even though I don't recall the details of the writer's story.

I like the idea of the calendar to mark off the time. It will help it seem to go faster. You can also divide up the amount of the debts and mark on the calendar how much you will pay and when and what the new, improved, lower balance will be.

Ask you dentist if he or she offers an interest-free payment plan. Some do and it would save you a lot of interest.
 

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I've been going to the dentist a lot and I maxed out my dental insurance coverage---so I had to pay out-of-pocket for my last dental bill. I no longer have pain in my teeth. I'm shocked at how expensive dental procedures are.

If I can be frugal and take better care of my teeth, I'm going to be okay next year. I just feel impatient. Sometimes I enter sweepstakes and wish I could win enough money to pay off my debts.
If you are young I am surprised you need much dental work, unless you have bad genetics or just fail to brush entirely. Beware of dentists who consistently find cavities on every visit. I have encountered more than one unscrupulous dentist who "found cavities" that didn't exist -- as proven by a visit to a second dentist-- and who wanted to replace crowns --costing thousands of dollars --that didn't need replacing.

Meanwhile, yes, take care of those teeth. Dentures suck. Keeping your mouth healthy is much cheaper in the long run. :)
 

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Like SD and CH - Been there, done that, lived to tell the tale, Murphy popped his head back in and I got to do it all over again.

I also like the calendar idea. You are doing a great job you just need a distraction to keep from feeling deprived. Focus on the things you are doing right and make it a game on how you can cut $5/month off the electric bill or try one new frugal recipe a week (I like budgetbytes.com because she prices the ingredients and most times you can beat her prices if you look for deals)

How I've made a few extra dollars - a second job, donate plasma, Swagbucks, online surveys, had a garage sale. Every extra dollar you can make or save off of a bill will help and none of these methods are fast money.

Things I've done to live cheaper: garden (even a few seeds in a pot will help), forage, In the kitchen I try to make own, I've made it a challenge to see where I can get things the cheapest, looking for salvage grocery stores, garage sales, grocery store discount meats (a couple of months ago I got 4 chicken thighs for $0.04) where I go the best time for deals is in the morning. barter with a neighbor that has a garden or fruit trees.

There are a lot of ideas on FV and a lot of great people willing to help and encourage you.
 

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Let's not forget the fine art of repurposing AKA using items for purposes for which they were never intended. :D I can afford to buy the things I need, but I enjoy the challenge of seeing if I can make an item I need or want out of something I already have, so I don't have to buy something.

Is it my fault this thread is turning into a thread about how to save money? I didn't mean to change the subject. I guess for me, the challenge of saving money and learning to be more self-reliant has become entertainment for me. And it has a useful purpose, too.
 

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You've received great advice here. There are TONS of free and inexpensive entertainment opportunities out there. Go check out your local newspaper, community calendar, local facebook groups, etc. Around here, towns sponsor free movies and concerts in the park, choral concerts, trivia nights and more. Check the park district, library, museums, local meetup groups, etc. Depending on what kind of hobby you like, try to organize a meeting yourself - see if you can book a library room for free for people to meet and do that hobby. \

Pair up with other friends in the area to look for inexpensive things to do. It's more fun to do them with friends.

I'd also like to point out what I saw in your post which is something I see in most posts. People tend to focus on how they can cut their expenses and debt (which of course is a great idea), but they don't really focus much on the other side of the equation. You have less than $3K with those two debts. I realize you are working up to 6 days a week, but a few weekends or weeknights of extra income producing activities could knock those debts down much faster than 2 years. Some options could be a short term second job (Christmas seasonal could be one possibility, fall cleanup, etc.). Maybe get a job helping with some catering gigs or bartending, which often need extra help on Friday and Saturday nights and can sometimes get a few hundred dollars in tips. Be creative and recognize that it could be a short term gig just to pay down that debt faster.

Also be thinking about how you can increase your income in your chosen career.

You'll get there. Focus on what you have, not what you don't have.

You can do this and potentially have fun along the way.
 

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I think a lot of people here would eagerly trade you for only $3000 worth of debt. I know I would. My goal is get my debts paid off before I retire.

Money is not what makes your life interesting. You are what makes your life interesting. Yes, money expands your options on what you can do. But there are lots of things out there that are free, cheap or have negative costs. To put it another way: there are 100s of fun things to do that cost more money than you have. There are 100s of fun things to do that are free or cheap. So focus on finding free or cheap things.

Yes I probably could come up with 100 free things, but I will save that for my book.

So first look for things that have negative costs. For example, baking sugar cookies has negative costs. It is cheaper to make them than it is to buy them. In general things like cooking, baking, making stuff, repairing things, remodeling things, etc. Grow garden herbs in a small pot.

And there are lots of free things. Take a look in your area for attractions and events that are free. Doodle. Take walks in the park. Read public domain books on line. Check out books from your local library. Write fan fiction. Make origami out of your junk mail or old magazines.

And a few cheap suggestions:
Get a group of book friends, i.e. people who share your interest in reading. You buy one book and it gets passed around the group. So if you have four people in the group, you are buying one book but reading four. Or you could just check with friends or family if they have any books laying around you could borrow. This also gives you someone you can talk about books with.
Have a game night with friends or family. Get together with friends or family and play games. All you have is the initial cost of the game, if you do not have it already. If you do this on a regular basis, you can get a lot of hours off entertainment off of one game. Have potluck style meals and snacks.
I make craft projects out of recycled fabrics. I use old clothing I would normally toss out.
Look for discount days at local attractions. Also look into yearly passes for attractions. It may cost a tiny bit up front, but if it is something you went to every week or even a couple times a month the cost per time is pretty cheap.
Crafts: Some of these can be done relatively cheaply. It would take me a couple of days to go into detail on this. I do a lot of stuff with low cost materials, thrift store stuff, recycled materials. We could start a thread in the craft area if you are interested in this.
 
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I was in the same position as you. I distinctly remember only having around $50 every week to spend on entertainment/leisure/shopping.

What I realized is that if you are seeking leisure from material things, then you will never find it without money. It's better to seek leisure from interactions with people. Ask yourself, what changed considering that you had so much fun when you were still a kid yet you didn't spend money before? When we were still in school we simply hanged out with our friends and chatted with each other. I'm sure many will agree that those moments were far far far more valuable than our experiences eating at 5-star restaurants.

I strongly suggest you join volunteer organizations. It doesn't cost a single penny and you meet people with generous hearts. I previously volunteered for an environmental organization and became a lecturer where we lectured kids on climate change.
 

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I agree on the interactions with people.

Looking around for local groups that play board games, go walking together, attend lectures, etc. can go a long way in finding new friends with common interests and provide entertainment as well.
 

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I remember reading in Dear Abby or Ann Landers once, when someone wrote in about wanting to do something but thinking it would take too much time. The response was that the time was going to pass whether the person did what she wanted to do or not, so why not do it? I think of that advice often even though I don't recall the details of the writer's story.
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I am one of those thousands whose life was changed by that one piece of advice. I was a HS dropout, had my GED but after reading this I enrolled in college at age 36 and received my degree in elementary education at 41. Because of 'life' I never did teach but no one can ever take that education away from me!

DEAR ABBY: I am a 36-year-old college dropout whose lifelong ambition was to be a physician. I have a very good job selling pharmaceutical supplies, but my heart is still in the practice of medicine. I do volunteer work at the local hospital on my time off, and people tell me I would have made a wonderful doctor.

If I go back to college and get my degree, then go to medical school, do my internship and finally get into the actual practice of medicine, it will take me seven years! But, Abby, in seven years I will be 43 years old. What do you think? -- UNFULFILLED IN PHILLY

DEAR UNFULFILLED: And how old will you be in seven years if you don't go to medical school?
 

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This summer, I started a new calendar for free/cheap events. It is amazing when it is all written out, how many fun things there are to do in our community. On Sunday's we go to church & we have many friends/aquaintences there. Monday we meet with a group & walk together. Tuesday evenings all summer there were free concerts at the local park. One night there was an outdoor movie. We have been to several county fairs, going on the day that we get the most reduced admission.(2 cents for one, free for the other on Veterans Day)We have started hiking at the state park. We have also explored several walking trails.We have gone to car shows, & festivals. Our town had a music fest, different bands played, they served free hot dogs. We enjoy going to the library- they have free movie & popcorn nights too. We have been following a local band & have been to several different venues- we do spend a little money buying drinks when we go listen to the band. The zoo has special rates on special days. We used to meet another couple & go bike riding, but haven't lately. Need to start that back up. Around here people get together to watch football on tv. Everybody brings a snack to share & your own beverages. Invite a little kid to come stay the night. (Assuming you have a niece, or nephew or a close friend with a kid) you can do puzzles, eat popcorn & watch cartoons together. Volunteer to walk someone's dog. Volunteer to read, or sing, or spend time a at a nursing home.
So you get the idea, get involved in something & see where it goes. Then when money is less tight, you can decide if you still want to do the stuff that costs more than you can afford right now.
 
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Maybe you should start meeting people who are in the same boat as you (people who don't/cannot afford to spend for leisure).

I used to work for a big financial firm and people's definition of leisure included eating at fine restaurants, shopping or traveling out of town. While I resisted going with them most of the, on occasion I'd join them for the sake of camaraderie. Still, it wasn't fun because I was not comfortable and I was not in a position to spend on luxuries like that. It's a pissing contest.

After a while I went into government service. The thing with government offices is that showing off an extravagant lifestyle is not encouraged considering there are so many employees who are earning far less then you so you have to be sensitive about it. You know what we eat for lunch? Home cooked meals brought to the office by one of the employees whom we pay a modest price. Our past time? Getting a $5 frap was already a luxury. Our definition of a lunch out? Eating at Burger King. Yet, I enjoyed it so much more than living an extravagant life in my previous company. Those who have less in life can appreciate human relationships more because it's all they enjoy in life.
 

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I think that to a large extend really expensive things are not better or not much better. It is mostly status symbols, impressing others and making yourself feel like you are rich or you have “made it.”

Sometimes really cheap stuff is pretty low quality. (I have occasionally found really cheap stuff that is pretty good though.) But moderately priced stuff is generally just as good quality as the expensive stuff.

Designer jeans are not better jeans than Levi’s. They are just more expensive.

On the lowest end of the scale price can often make a difference. A $15 dinner is probably better food than a $5 dinner. But a $50 dinner is often not any better than a $15 dinner. At $50 you are mostly paying for the tablecloth, fancy silverware, high quality plates, nicer wait staff uniform, high end furniture, etc.

When my co-workers go out for our office luncheon they always want to go someplace “nice.” By which they mean expensive, or worse yet expensive and trendy. None of it has been bad. But at twice what I would normally spend it should be twice as good. And it is not. At least not in my opinion. In most cases I actually like the food at the moderately priced places better. (If I do not go, it looks like I am not a “team player” so I go.)

Sometimes I think that it is all part of some social game. Like if I told people that the food at Dave’s BBQ Pit was much tastier than this expensive food with ingredients I can’t pronounce….they might think I was low class or did not have good taste. So I don’t. And maybe other people are thinking the same thing.
 

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You have received some really good advice and info in the responses above... it has been 2 months since your initial post and I'm hoping you are feeling a little better about where you are in your life.

I can promise you that your life is not pointless. PROMISE! You are trying to find your way and figure out how you fit in to this great big world that moves so fast.... that is normal and healthy actually :smile2:

You have some really great things going for you.... you have a job that pays your expenses, you are building great credit that will help you in your coming years, you have a bike, and you have gratitude what you already have. HUGE!!

So now you can focus on "what is the point?"
The only way to find meaning is to start searching and see where it leads you... maybe start
**enjoying nature more - walking, hiking, or bike riding in new places near home - not just to get to the market, but to enjoy the walk/ride itself. explore your surroundings.
**start a part-time job that is fun for you... maybe at the movie theater so you can watch movies for free and be around happy people. use the income to pay down your debts faster :smile2:
**volunteer: schools, hospitals, library, house of worship, beautification or community development for your city/town, SPCA, etc
**check out MeetUp in your city/town... maybe there are already groups of people with likes similar to yours that are meeting to do fun things
As you try new things you will learn what you like and what you do not like- both are important. It is ok to not always know where you are headed, and it is ok to move from one path to another. What I have learned for me is that it is important to continue moving forward while at the same time taking time to be still and quiet.

You are on an exciting journey and I wish you strength, courage, and love
 
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