Only 20% of financial success is based on knowledge. The other 80% is based on behavior.
There were times when I couldn't do something incredibly important, and though becoming debt free was worth the sacrifice, had I planned better I could have both done it and stayed on track with my debt payoff.
In order to avoid this, here's what I recommend:
1. List no more than 5 important events over the next 24 months that are happening to you, or your children, and come around only once. Hint: your birthday doesn't count, even if it's a milestone. Your kid's birthdays can count if they're young, but need to be significantly scaled back. Try to spend 60% or less than usual.
Plan those expenses with your debt payoff schedule, and be okay with the additional time it takes to get out of debt.
A close friend got married while I was getting out of debt, but I couldn't go because she had a destination wedding in Jamaica. I participated in the shower and bachelorette party since they were local, and I truly hated to miss her big day, but I'd made a commitment to myself. I chose me.
2. What are you willing to give up to eliminate your debt?
Every time you spend on something besides your debt it extends the amount of time you'll be paying it off. Focusing all your money on getting out of debt isn't fun, but not doing a few things now so you can spend the rest of your life in peace, and rich, is more than worth it. Whether it be a milestone birthday or other major event, important fringe expenses will arise. When that happens, ask yourself if enjoying this right now is more important than keeping the discomfort of getting out of debt to as short of a time as possible.
Although I didn't go to my friend's wedding, I did pay $170 to see Tina Turner in concert. It was her retirement tour, and I'm a huge fan! If I thought she'd tour again, or the ticket was $1,000, I wouldn't have gone to the concert, but that final chance to see her was worth remaining in debt a little longer. It was the only real splurge I made in those two years, and absolutely worth it.
And so it is.