To get rid of debt, you need a budget that actually puts you in the black each month, so that you can contribute that extra money to paying down your debt. Sometimes it looks completely hopeless, but if you’re ready to buckle down and get rid of that debt, here’s a list of several areas to take a good look at ranging from least to most extreme.
1.) Magazine & Newspaper Subscriptions – Cancel them. Even if they are scholarly journals or trade magazines, if they’re not crucial to doing your job correctly, get rid of them. If they are crucial to doing your job correctly, talk with your supervisor at work about why your company should be reimbursing you for them then.
2.) Gym Memberships – Yeah, I totally see all the benefits of belonging to a gym. Personally, it would take a gun to my head to get me to work out if there’s not a swimming pool or roller skates involved and both of those can become price-y activities. Nonetheless, if you can’t get your budget out of the red and this it an item you’re paying for every month, it’s time to switch to some Pinterest and YouTube inspired free workout plans until your debt is a distant memory.
3.) Switch to Generic – in most cases you’re still buying exactly the same thing. For the few cases your not, let the taste of that off-brand ketchup remind you of why you need to stick to your budget and pay off your debt (because Heinz tastes to much better).
4.) Tiny Splurges – they add up. My guilty pleasure is picking up lip balm and chapstick, because at $1-4 a pop, it’s not a big deal. Except I had a ridiculous quantity of them that are barely used. If there’s ever a nuclear apocalypse and I survive it – my lips will not be chapped for however many decades it takes to restore civilization. The point of that ramble is that it may not be a lot of money each time, but it adds up, and if you can’t get your budget balanced, these types of purchases need to stop (see “latte factor”).
5.) Become a Thrift Store Superstar – most of what you need to clothe your family and/or furnish a home can be found in places like Goodwill or Salvation Army stores. Now is the time to start using them.
6.) Cancel Your Cable TV – other than sports, you can find pretty much anything you want on the Internet. Honestly, you can even find a lot of sporting events streaming live online too. Check it out – even switching to a Netflicks or Hulu account is cheaper than most cable plans.
7.) Switch Phone Carriers – smartphones can be a pretty big bill each month. Some Pay-As-You-Go phone companies now have plans for smartphones. A little research could save you a good bit of dough over the course of a year.
8.) Break a Habit – I’m mostly looking at you smokers (although it goes for alcohol and drugs too). Forget about how you’re slowly killing yourself and those around you, cigarettes are RIDICULOUSLY expensive. If there’s one thing you could do that will probably take a red budget into the black, it’s this. Especially if you’ve been smoking for a long time and are not also paying for regular co-pays to the doctor and cough/bronchitis medicine all the time too (I’m looking at you, Mom). Maybe if it was vaping (check out http://www.DaVinciVaporizer.
9.) Downsize Your Housing or Look for a Roommate – you can rent out a room in your house or apartment. Or you can just move somewhere cheaper. A smaller house or apartment is likely to cost less. If it’s doable, look at total relocation to a cheaper part of the country, if you can find a new job there.
These are just some thoughts on ways to get your budget under control so you can start making debt payments that really make a difference. Are they extreme? Some are. But sometimes you get into situations that require extreme solutions.
For more debt repayment advice and other frugal living tips, enter to win a copy of Suze Orman’s The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke. Contest ends 12/31.
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