Sick of being in debt? Me too! I cannot stand being in debt, being a slave to the lender. Becoming debt free and being committed to that lifestyle is not an easy decision to make. There are so many external pressures in the world today about debt. Start with small steps, here are 7 things to give up to get out of debt.
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Do you track your monthly expenses? Do you know how much you spend on eating out every month? The average American family spends more on eating out every month than they do on groceries. That’s a lot of money! Imagine how much debt could be wiped out in the next five years if you stopped eating out? So how do you stop this vicious cycle? Here are a few ideas:
Plan your meals – meal planning is essential to saving money every month in my household budget. Meal planning on a budget is an excellent article to read if you do not know where or how to start meal planning, there are even free printables to download! Be sure to check it out here – How to create a budget friendly meal plan.
Stuck for ideas for your weekly meal plan? Let the $5 Meal Plan do the work for you. For just $5 a month, they will send a monthly meal plan to you. It will not only save you money and time, but will save you the dreaded Sunday morning/night session of meal planning. Click here for a 14 day free trial to the $5 Meal Plan.
Don’t like to cook? Me neither! Find some fast and fun recipes that you love. Here are a few ideas for copycat recipes where you can create your favorite restaurant meals at home.
Just say no to the temptation, it will quickly become a habit to NOT eat out. Carry a snack bag in the car for yourself or your kids. Pack your lunch every day before heading out to work. Does your child have a game or event out of town? Pack a cooler full of quick and easy snacks, meals and drinks and then eat in the car.
Savings = $2500 per year
This is a huge expense for some people. Yes, we all need to be healthy and active, but it does not have to come at the expense of your wallet. The average gym membership costs between $40 and $50 per month. Go to your local thrift store and find some weights or exercise bands. If you have an internet connection, there are so many exercise videos on YouTube. Yoga, weightlifting, Pilates, Zumba, you name it, you can find a video for it.
Savings = $600 per year
I get it, I love to read too. For a book lover, there is nothing like the feel of a book in your hands. Personally, the smell gets me. If there was a candle that smelled like a library, I would be all over it. Join your local library. You can borrow books whenever you want. Our local library is part of a three county network, so we can borrow books from over 100 libraries. You may have to wait for a few days, but it is so worth it.
Go digital – if you use a kindle or iPad or Nook or even just your phone to read, there are a lot of books out there to read for free. Your local library may have digital books to borrow. Barnes and Noble has thousands of free books to read on your Nook. If you are an Amazon prime member, there is a feature called Prime Reading where you can borrow from over a thousand selections and they change monthly. Click below for a free 30 day trial to Amazon Prime:
Get over the Misconception that Everyone Has Debt!
No, not everyone has debt. Some college students work their way through college, paying for it as they go. No student loans. It may take an extra few years to get that degree, but imagine the increased value to you if there is no debt at the end?
Car loans – save some cash and always buy used. I cannot wait to get out from under a car loan!
Credit cards – you do NOT need them! BUT, there are reasons to have them and not use them constantly. First is the rewards program. You can rack up some major rewards such as miles or actual cash back every year simply by charging your re-occurring bills and paying them off before the due date. There are people that earn thousands and thousands of miles this way and fly for free all over the world. Pay cash for your gas and groceries if carrying the card is too tempting. Otherwise, charge your groceries every week, put that money in a separate savings account as soon as you “spend” it on your rewards credit card. Then when the bill comes in, pay that balance off! You will also see an increase in your credit score if you do this. I also have a credit card for emergency purposes. Yes, I have an emergency fund (read all about it here) set up, but if we are on vacation or away from home, I could use my card in an extreme emergency.
Carrying a balance on your mortgage is the toughest debt to tackle, but once all of your other debt is paid off, concentrate on paying this off.
The wants…a new kitchen, remodeled bathroom, a new deck, or pool…whatever the Jones’ did next door to their house, you do not have to outdo them. Be content with what you have right now and keep your eye on your future. What are you willing to give up right now so that your future is more financially secure? Maybe you want to retire early? Have more financial independence in the future. You need to sacrifice a little now so the payoff is greater in the future.
Big Expensive Vacations
Who wouldn’t love to go to Disney every single year? I know my kids would, but for most American families, that is just not feasible. Why go into debt for a vacation? Will you really enjoy it? Save your money and plan fun staycations with your family instead. There is so much to see in our own backyards. So many festivals and fairs. You can buy a park pass for the year and travel to different parks all over your state. We live in NY and do this every year. There is so much to see out there! Pack a lunch in a cooler, bring drinks and snacks. There are so many fun and cheap vacation/staycation ideas on Pinterest. I often re-pin vacation/staycation ideas on a budget.
Yes, give up a little of your free time. Clip coupons, meal plan, side hustle, create passive income, start a blog, answer surveys. Get a second job. Again, how much are you willing to sacrifice right now to pay off your debt? I created this blog as my side hustle to earn extra money and pay off debt. Read about my first income report here and how you can get started with your own blog.
Getting out of debt does not have to be daunting. Giving up these 7 things will not only lead to paying off debt, but you will not be creating debt either. You could save AT LEAST $5000 per year giving these 7 things up. Imagine how much you could pay down on your debt with that money? And you know what, once you start giving these things up, other things will follow and you will be able to trim your budget even quicker and get rid of even more debt.
Join the Debt Snowball Challenge – read all about it in How to Pay off Debt with the Debt Snowball Method.