So, you’ve decided to get serious about cutting down your spending.
Congrats! I’m here to support you because, let’s face it, no one wants to talk about budgeting. Particularly if you’re accustomed to living large. But let me be brutally honest with you: cutting back is one of the most important aspects of successfully paying off debt. You and I both know it.
Even if you’re not in debt payoff ninja mode; you might wish to increase your contributions to your retirement fund, your emergency fund, or simply live more comfortably within your budget. Cutting costs is the best, quickest, and most immediate way to achieve all of those goals.
And while all of this looks great on paper, it can be tough to actually make the lifestyle changes that are necessary sometimes. But when it comes down to it, what do you cut? Where do you start? It can be hard to discern between the things you love, wants, and needs. No one likes to say this either, but sometimes there is a gray area.
I’ve done a lot of research on this, and here are my first six things to snip (read: the easiest to live without) when you’re trying to live skimpy.
6 Things to Cut When Paying Off Debt
1. Nights on the Town
Listen ya’ll. I am terrible when it comes to saying no to plans. I’m typically the first one to agree to karaoke, drinks, or an evening at the theater for a variety of reasons:
A) I’m single and need to be entertained
B) I have ADHD and crave shiny, glittery distractions
C) I work from home. Mama gets lonely and wants to socialize with real people and not in front of a computer.
Unfortunately for my wallet these types of plans tend to lead to a lot of other purchases along the way. Take this for example: you go out expecting to only pay for karaoke…which leads to drinks….which leads to food (read: end of the night pizza and maybe if you’re feeling fiesty MORE DRINKS) and finally a tip.
Now all of a sudden you’ve doubled your initial spending! So when it comes down to it an evening with Netflix and ice cream might be a more frugal alternative.
No! Not My WINE!
Alcohol is a costly habit to keep up when you’re trying to save money. I certainly know how nice it can be to come home to a glass of wine or two, but it can really pad your grocery bill.
Alcohol can also take a toll on your bill when eating out. So if you’re trying to maintain your social life while cutting back, try going out and only ordering water or a soda.
3. Take Out
When it comes down to it, ordering out is almost always going to be more expensive than making something at home. I’ve actually tried going a whole month without eating out – if you know me, you know what a big deal this was! After that challenge I am definitely more aware of how pizza and Chinese food suck up my food budget now.
My advice to those of you who suck at cooking? Find a food blogger or recipe site and practice! (One of my favorites is BudgetBytes – delicious and frugal!) Seriously, the more you do it, the better at it you will become. Blue Apron also offers bomb ass recipes and will ship ingredients to your door, so it’s the taste of take out for a friendlier price.
I eat almost all of my meals at home now unless I’m meeting someone, it was a big shift about six months or so in the making, but I feel a lot better (and so does my wallet!) I promise yours will too.
You knew this was coming, didn’t you? Of course clothes is going on the list.
But if you’re anything like me shopping can bring with it a huge temptation to overspend. I’ve been pretty honest on the blog about my relationship with my shopping addiction, and if you’re looking to cut costs it may be a good time to audit your clothing spend.It doesn’t have to be for forever, but if you’re serious about debt payoff, try a no-spend clothing challenge for 3 months, 6 months, or a year.
You can learn ways to shop your own closet, resell old clothes to consignment stores and use that money to indulge guilt free, or just donate to local thrift stores.
Obviously not everyone goes on road trips or cross-country flights every month, but even just cutting back on driving around all the time can save you money on gas and parking costs. And if you do tend to travel a lot and have debt, maybe forgo the big trips until you can get your head above water, or try saving up for the trip so you don’t have to worry about adding to your debt.
If you live in the city, try walking to the store if it’s nice out or carpooling with friends if you’re in a more suburban area. This will also help you avoid unnecessary spending – you don’t want to buy so much you can’t carry it home!
Read also: 10 Finance Tips From an Empty Nester
I know the title says five things, but I couldn’t resist throwing in this last one. Back in my pre-blog days I used to be a hardcore magazine addict. Like every time at the grocery store throwing one or two onto my items on the belt. Magazines nowadays are like $5 a piece, that’s $40 a month if I bought two each week. Yowza.
I loved those Magazines, but now I save them as a sick day or beach vacation treat. I always look forward to the beach, but I also love laying there in the sun with ten magazines and devouring them one by one. It’s become my little vacation ritual.
Also if you hate clutter – magazines pile up fast in the nooks and crannies of your home, so think of it as a smooth move for both your budget and debt payoff and for keeping your home streamlined and efficient.
I got rid of cable three years ago, bought a TV antenna, and never hired a complicated remote again. I still get 25 over-the-air channels, and my $11 monthly Netflix subscription offers plenty of entertainment.
When paying down debt, you’ll have to resist splurging on a few indulgences, so you can afford to keep one or two. For example, if you’re paying someone to mow your lawn or clean your house, you could do the work yourself and use that money for an occasional movie or dinner.
Get a Side Income
This will be the quickest method of payment. You will be able to finish paying faster if you have more money available. If you are unable to obtain a temporary supplemental work, another option is to sell some of your personal belongings. It all adds up, whether you sell some furniture, jewellery, or even old clothes or shoes.
Read also: What Is a Side Hustle, and How Do I Get One?
You can also turn to things you make yourself, whether it’s food or crafts, as long as they’re all part of a plan to get you out of debt faster, such as recycled material, which helps you save expenses and enhance earnings.
What is the first thing you cut when you are trying to save money? Let me know in the comments!