I was being suffocated by $31,000 in debt. It took 2 years, however, I didn’t see a difference until after the first 6 months. I had to make huge changes to cut this debt down quicker. The changes I made weren’t spectacular, but you really learn how to discern between needs and wants.
The lifestyle changes have stuck with me and become habit. Being debt free makes traveling the world a reality. You may even decide to keep this trend going and invest your savings in stocks – or real estate! Grabbing dinner out or a fancy coffee on the way to work will be treats you won’t feel guilty indulging in.
Not everything I did will be relevant, or even possible for you. You’ll have to pick and choose what works for you. They’re easy theoretically, yet frequently overlooked. Your current job and the cost of living in the area you’re in has a lot to do with how many of these tips you’ll be able to work in to your new, debt-killing lifestyle.
12. Get a cheap pad
Is it possible for you to bunk with relatives for awhile? Get a room mate to share the expenses? I found a small, cute place near my job renting a room from a sweet, elderly woman. She periodically made me meals, and combining rent and utilities, I got an extraordinary deal. Sounds perfect, right? There were sacrifices – like no overnight guests!
Figure out what you can live with and tolerate – and know it’s just for a little while until you get your debt knocked down.
NEXT: BULK IS BEST
11. Buy in bulk
Memberships like Sam’s or Costco can get you a lot for a little. Check out other inexpensive food options like local farmer’s markets and discount grocers.
NEXT: BE YOUR OWN CHEF
10. Get creative with your cooking
Get a few ingredients that go far, but cost less, then figure out a bunch of ways to use them. Eggs are a good one. There’s a million ways to cook eggs. Try different salads, soups, and meatless recipes. All are healthy, cheap to buy, and have very few ingredients.
NEXT: SPECIAL OCCASIONS
9. Make restaurants special
You don’t have to decline every time an occasion calls for a meal out. Don’t constantly grab coffees and meals when you are out and about by yourself, but reserve that cash for special occasions (or dates!). You still want to have a life – just make it count.
NEXT: CONSOLIDATION CAUTION
8. Consolidation isn’t always the best way
Consolidating loans, credit cards, or other debt can include a bigger interest rate. It seems like a good idea and makes payments quick and easy, but you may end up paying more after all. You want to pay less, quicker – not the other way around!
NEXT: DO WE HAVE YOUR INTEREST?
7. Compare your loans and interest, and pay down accordingly.
When you have multiple loans, consider the annual rate of interest for every one. Compare each totally yearly interest, and pay the highest ones first. Accruing less interest helps you in the long run. Every other month, reevaluate your total owed and the interest on each individual amount, then budget which payments are more important.
NEXT: GET ON THE BUS
6. Public transportation
It may take longer and require a bit of strategic planning, but you can use the down time to catch up on messages on your phone, reading, podcasts, or just to sit quietly and clear your mind. Public transportation can take the stress out of your daily commute, and save you the gas money and wear and tear on your own vehicle. Car insurance can even be reduced by not using your vehicle as a regular commuter.
NEXT: KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID
5. Simplify, simplify, simplify
It’s a trend for a reason! When you’re about to buy something new, think about whether or not it will really contribute to your life in a largely positive way. You can say no to something you want right now because you are saying yes to the bigger thing you want more down the road (financial freedom!) You can also sell things you already own that you really don’t need. It’s a win-win.
4. Take advantage of loan forgiveness and negotiate rates
There are lots of loan forgiveness programs out there; you just have to do your homework. Also, credit card companies will work with you on interest rates and forgiving late fees. All you have to do is ask!
3. Automate and track
Automate your payments and deposits so you know money in and money coming out will happen automatically. No surprises, no effort. You can also get apps that you can use to track spending, saving, and create graphs and notifications to help you see what your debt really looks like and the best, cheapest, fastest way to pay it down.
NEXT: CONSTANT STUDENT
2. Always be working on yourself
What you do for work is your ticket out of your pile of debt. Always be reading, studying, and working towards upping your game. Promotions, or better opportunities will be obtained easier and faster if you’re ahead of the game. Stay on top by investing free time in getting better at what you do, or working towards something better.
NEXT: BARGAIN HUNTER
1. Travel on the cheap
Cheap travel is easy to come by if you know where to look. Travel agents and the numerous online services offer crazy deals all the time. You just need to take the time to investigate and compare. You can always give up a little luxury or less important amenities to save a few bucks. Your mode of travel can always be cheaper, too, if you’re willing to take longer to arrive or have a less comfortable way to travel.