7 Simple Ways to Cut Costs & Get Out of Debt
by Tiffany Walking Eagle | 3-minute read
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1. Be Realistic About Your Income.
You won't be able to budget or create a plan to pay off debt if you aren't real with yourself about your income. It's too easy to spend outside your means, but it's vital you plan to spend less that you make if you want to start paying down debt.
2. Assess Your Debt.
Know how much debt you're working with so you can start effectively tackling it. Check your online accounts, call your bank or credit union, or look through your paper statements and add up all the numbers. Once you're aware of what you're working with, you'll be able to come up with a strategy to chip away at the amount you owe.
3. Automate Payments.
Automating monthly payments on credit cards bills or financed items is a simple yet powerful way to stick to your goals of diminishing debt. You'll avoid late fees, and automation is a safeguard against procrastinating payments. I know how easy it is to forget or put off making payments because it's uncomfortable and frustrating, but it's much better to just get it over with.
4. Budget First.
So you finally get your Friday paycheck, and you've had an insanely long week. You need to blow off some steam, and it's super tempting to just head out for dinner with your significant other or hit the town with some friends to unwind. If you're going to get serious about paying down debt, however, you're going to need to take the time to budget before you play. As soon as you get your paycheck, make it a priority to sit down and calculate out your bills, essential payments, what you can afford to put toward debt, and then decide what you can spend on entertainment.
5. Put Extra Cash Toward Debt
Maybe you just got a bonus for your hard work, or you had a couple of super busy months as a freelancer and you've got a little bit of extra cash. Awesome! You absolutely deserve to treat yourself, but if you really want to reduce your debt, take a minute before you celebrate and determine to put at least a portion of your extra mullah toward debt. Even if it's not a large amount, every little bit you can pay down makes a difference.
6. Pay More Than the Minimum.
If you can afford to do so, try to pay more than the minimum payment each month on your bills. Set aside as much as you can each month toward debt, and the more you can pay down, the more you'll save by avoiding expensive interest fees.
7. Shop the Sales.
One simple and honestly fun way to save cash is to hunt for bargains whenever possible. If you're shopping for clothes or home goods, head to discount stores or clearance sections and see what you can find. While it may take more searching and be a bit more hit or miss, the money you'll save makes it worth it. You also can shop for discounts at your local grocery store, as they often have a clearance aisle and they mark down items that are close to the sell-by date. There's nothing wrong with buying food that is close to the sell by date so long as you're disciplined about cooking it at home. Search for items with those ugly discount stickers all over them to find the savings. My husband and I have been able to keep our grocery bill consistently between $150 and $250 a month using this method, and that's buying fresh, healthy food! Cooking at home instead of going out can save you loads of money as well. If you're like me, if you know you have food in your fridge needs to be cooked, you're more likely to eat at home to avoid being wasteful.
Do you have any tricks you've used to save cash and pay down debt? Share them below! I'd love to hear your story. :)