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This post was updated on June 20, 2018.
I am a slave to debt. This is difficult for me to admit, but it’s the truth. And I will continue to be a slave to debt until it is all paid off and my finances are freed.
Although at this moment it seems like a dream that may not be attainable, I know that is a lie. Because regardless of what the world tells me to do, I do not need to keep spending money I don’t have. I do not need the latest, greatest, or best of everything. Because you know what happens? We are never satisfied. We keep looking for the next best thing. And it is a cycle that never ends. But not anymore.
There’s no question about it, saving money and paying down debt is hard!
My husband and I are currently working on it. It’s been a long process but we know that every little tweak and adjustment we make, the faster we will get there. What we have learned is there are a lot of small, and some not so small, changes we can make that can help us on our journey.
Here are some of the ways we have considered and used to pay down our debt and save money and we hope will help you as well on your adventure to a debt free life.
Consider moving into a smaller, less fancy apartment when your lease is up. Maybe give up that place with an in-unit washer/dryer, dishwasher, and balcony. Or if you own a home consider selling it for a smaller, more modest one. Of course this would not be something to just do on a whim but should be carefully considered and discussed.
If you’re comfortable with it, get rid of your phone altogether by selling, returning, or donating it.
- Use a prepaid phone, meaning you pay for only a certain number of minutes per month until they run out. Make sure to keep minutes available for emergencies.
- Lower or eliminate your data plan. Take a look over your most recent phone bills and see how much data you are actually using. Are you using up all of your gigs? If not, lower your available amount. If you are, ask yourself if most of the data you use is really necessary. Look for ways you can use your data only (or mostly) when you have wi-fi available and then start small. If you’re currently paying for six gigs of data, try going down to five and see how it goes. If you do well with five gigs, lower it even more.
- Buy a cheaper phone instead of the latest version.
Turn down your thermostat as much as you can during the winter to save on energy costs. Pile on the blankets and sweaters! During the summer, limit your a/c usage as much as possible.
- Examine your home and make sure it is as efficient as possible to keep in heat.
- Turn off electronics when you’re not using them including lights, fans, and TVs.
- Unplug phone and laptop chargers from the wall when not in use to avoid phantom charges.
- Do laundry and run the dishwasher only when loads are completely full and during off peak hours (often between 9pm-7am, but call your local electric company to confirm as times can vary).
- Whenever you can, open curtains and blinds and use natural light instead of turning on a lamp.
- Have a monthly grocery budget in cash.
- Buy generic when possible.
- Plan meals around current sales but make sure you are ACTUALLY saving money when you buy on sale. Don’t just buy something simply because it’s on sale.
- Use Dollar Shave Club. It will only cost you $3 a month for razors and they’re shipped directly to you! I have been a member for a couple of years now and absolutely love the money I save.
- Shop and compare for cheapest prices (I keep a spreadsheet of product prices at various stores so I know where to go for what).
- Stock up household items and foods when on sale (don’t forget you can freeze a lot of foods!).
- Eat leftovers.
- Shop at Aldi and/or other discounted grocery and retail stores.
- Always bring a shopping list with you to the store and don’t buy anything that is not on it.
- Don’t go to the store hungry. Shopping hungry increases your chances of impulse buying.
- Plan your meals out at least a week in advance.
- Search for coupons (but don’t buy something just because you have a coupon).
- Don’t buy name brand clothing.
- Drink only tap water.
- Eliminate the need for car insurance, gasoline, car washes, oil changes and other maintenance by selling your car and taking the bus.
- If you must have a car, shop around for car insurance to find the best deal.
- Pay attention to gas prices so you don’t overpay.
- Pay attention to when you get a discount on a car wash by buying gas first instead of paying full price for a wash.
- Sell your car and put the money toward debt or savings.
- Sell your car and buy a cheaper car.
- If you work from home it might be absolutely necessary to pay for internet (we all know going to Starbucks every day to work would get crazy expensive), but if you don’t work from home, ask yourself if it is really necessary that you have internet.
- Shop around your area for the cheapest internet options.
- Bring your own lunches to work.
- Plan dinners at least a week in advance so you’re not as tempted to eat out.
- When you do eat out, only drink water and don’t order appetizers. Look for coupons first.
- Stop buying coffee from coffee shops. There are many ways to make fun and flavorful coffee at home.
- Consider staying in and inviting friends over to watch a movie instead of going out. If you do go to a movie, go to a matinee. Or better yet, wait for the movie to get to a budget theater near you.
- Have friends over for a potluck.
- Don’t pay to get your nails done. There are many ways to make your nails look great from home.
- Don’t get expensive haircuts. If you prefer a pricier salon, ask for someone with lower experience whose prices are cheaper.
- If you’re a guy, depending on what you do with your hair, you may even be able to cut it at home. My husband recently started shaving his head at home, which has saved us so much money!
Cancel cable. Hulu and Netflix are so much cheaper. And if you can have only one, even better. Many new shows are available for free for a limited time on network websites.
Use automatic payment options when they offer a discount – and only when they offer a discount. I don’t like to use them when they don’t offer a discount because it just puts me at risk of forgetting a payment will be coming out and then overdrawing my account. But if it gives me money off, I will take that risk unless it gets me intotrouble.
These simple adjustments to your monthly expenses will go a long way to freeing up money that can go toward savings or paying down your debt.
Remember, the faster you pay off your debt, the faster you’ll have the freedom to do more with your money!
How do you like to save money? Please comment below!
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