I have been working on my spending habits for almost two years now and I am dedicated to have another successful year in decreasing my debt. There are a couple of reasons that I can tell you why I have such a large amount of debt that are common mistakes such as, putting myself through college with loans, and taking loans from credit cards to pay for lap tops, new tires, and other emergency’s that I encountered before I learned and gained the knowledge of the importance of savings accounts. There were choices that I also made that were wrong financial choices but I do not want to look back at this borrowing and expensive loans as mistakes, I just want to look at them as learning experiences so that I never make them again. Since it’s a new year and most people make new goals to decrease debt through the next year I wanted to post some practices that have helped my wallet through this financial journey. Hope it helps!
1. Only eat out once a week, if you feel like giving yourself a personal challenge you can challenge yourself to eat out every two weeks. Making your own meals is healthier, can become a hobby and interest, and cheaper! You can find great recipes on pinetrest for inspiration!
2. Get a membership at a gym and get in shape. This is a hobby that you can engage in that depending on the membership you choose will cost you $1-$2 a day. Instead of spending money at a bar or at a movie you can spend your day, morning, or evening making friends at the gym!
3. Pack a lunch everyday for work. Brew your own coffee in the morning instead of stopping at Starbucks. What I like to do is preloaded $10 on my Starbucks gift card every month and know that I have only 10 dollars to spend at Starbucks every 30 days so it seems more like a treat then a habit. You can also set your coffee pot the night before so its ready to grab in the morning.
4. Creat an excel spread sheet of what money you are paying out to bills every month and calculate at the beginning of each month exactly how much you can spend. Calculate how much you are putting in your savings account, and don’t forget about gas money, and those miscellaneous things like needing more toothpaste!
5. If you are splurging and you know your splurging take a moment and really decide how you are going to feel after you make the purchase you are about to make. A good example of thinking before I splurged was when I was planning on buying myself an ipad. I wanted this for an entire year (no joke) and every time I went to purchase this on loan on my Best Buy credit card I felt guilty. Therefore, I put the iPad back. I don’t want to make purchases anymore feeling guilty. A year later, I still wanted an iPad and inherited some money back from my old apartment and used that money for my iPad. No Loan, NO GUILT.
6. Tell your friends and your significant other the plans that you have to better your financials. If the people around you know that you are trying to do this to better yourself and accomplish important goals for yourself they will stop the peer pressure to sway you to do things that will alter your picture. And if they dont…they dont love you!
7. When you are tackling debit on different loans, or different accounts tackle the smaller ones first. It’s easier to gain the confidence that your hard work is paying off when you start to see less debit. So what I do to get the achievement feeling is pay more money toward my smaller debit and minimum on my larger debt. Since I started doing this I have paid off two cards and can work on the next smaller ones without feeling like my plan isn’t working. It’s also easier to self manage instead of paying out so many different bills every month.
8. I know its hard out there finding jobs but I would suggest picking up a second job. I am a store manager and even though it wasnt easy passing up an actual day off after a long hard week at work I have been babysitting on the side to help cushion my bill payments. Even if you get a second job for 6 months or goal yourself to do so just for one year it will help you pay down your bills faster so you can work less in the future.
9. You should still make sure you are having fun and treating your self every now and then. Just like any diet plan I follow I believe that if you give yourself such strict rules it easier to set yourself up for cheating and risk of bigger splurges. Just make sure you are doing things within your means and this is easiest with a PLAN. Plan a cocktail hour at home and tell everyone to BYOB. Shop sales and buy fruit and veggies that are on sale at the grocery. Travel places where you can stay with friends or family. Be creative when you are planning a date and do things that cost less. With the right people and good laughs you will be sure to still have fun.
10. Hold yourself accountable. Only YOU can decrease your debt.