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One of the key requirements to making it financially is to work towards paying down your debt and becoming debt-free. It’s a marathon process, not a sprint, and it’s not very much fun, but it is oftentimes critical in order to really achieve financial success. Financial author Dave Ramsey has a quote related to this that I like a lot: “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” With that goal in mind, here are twelve simple things you can do to give yourself more cash to put towards paying down your debt.
- Request rate reductions. At least once every couple of years, call your auto and home insurance provider, your television provider, your security system provider, and anyone else who is sending you a bill and see if they can give you a better rate. Ask them if there is anything they can do to lower your costs as you are looking at your monthly expenses. Look at it this way, there’s no harm in asking!
- Plan before you go to the grocery store. This works for any store, but especially the grocery store. Buy what you came to get, and unless it’s truly the deal of the century, nothing else. If you want to take a few minutes and look through the coupons before you go, that could lead to additional savings, too.
- Unplug the home phone. Other than telemarketers and maybe a family member or two, who calls you at home? This is a real easy way to save some cash every month, so go ahead and call the phone company if you haven’t already. Besides, you’re probably already paying more than enough for your cell phone!
- Sell your unused items. If you have a possession that has dust on it or you’ve forgotten you own it, you probably don’t need it. If paying off debt means more to you than those types of objects, it’s time for a garage sale and some online listings. Put the cash proceeds towards something you do need; less debt!
- Grow a small garden. If I had $3 for every time I buy a squash or a zucchini. What? My wife likes squash and zucchini (and now I do, too). Seriously, have you seen how expensive fresh produce can be? I’m not talking about growing your own farmer’s market, but a few berries, a few vegetables, or even some herbs could go a long way towards reducing your grocery bill. Besides, I could use a little sunshine on the back of my neck!
- Lower your cable package. So many channels, so little time. So many channels, so much cost. So many unused channels. Need I say more?
- Bye bye magazines. The next time you’re over at someone’s house look at their magazines. More often than not, I’ve observed that they will be in mint condition. Lots of people pay for lots of magazines they don’t read. The savings may not be substantial, but by cancelling unused subscriptions, you save cash, you save clutter, and you save your mailman. Win, win, win!
- Read a book. I’m serious. It may be the year 2015, but you can’t forget the enjoyment of one of the original entertainment devices. Books are relatively inexpensive, can offer hours of pleasure, and are a lot of fun.
- When you go out to eat, get two hydrogens and an oxygen on the rocks (just ask Jennifer Lawrence…). Seriously, iced tea, soda, lemonade, beer, wine, and cocktails are all delicious, but they aren’t free. Improve your personal health and your wallet’s health and consider going with delicious, usually free water.
- Eat at home. In line with my beverage comment, the food from eating out can be expensive, too! Sure, go on those date nights and celebrate the weekend, but if you’re trying to save cash, having a reservation at home is often the frugal way to go.
- Make bigger meals. Oh I can hear the super health-conscious people screaming already, but please hear me out. If you are making a salad with lots of vegetables and balsamic vinaigrette for dinner, why not make enough for lunch the next day? It is probably cheaper to add another tomato, another bag of spinach, and use a little bit more off that cucumber you’re going to throw away at the end of the week than if you make a totally different meal for your lunch. Yes, you’re eating the same meal twice in rapid succession, but you’re working towards paying off your debt in rapid succession, too!
- Make your coffee at home. I see so many lattes and chai teas in elevators. They are delicious, there’s no doubt about it, but they’re expensive, too. I once wrote about one expensive cup of coffee turning into a sports car as some of you may recall. Right now we’re focused on debt, not a sports car, but the principle holds true. Like other frequent pleasures and splurges, daily cups of expensive Joe can slow your financial progress.
I didn’t title today’s post “12 Easy Things” or “12 Ideal Things” because they may not be easy for you or sound highly desirable. That’s okay. These 12 things are just relatively simple to implement, and they can be good “medicine” for your financial health. It’s not quite Mary Poppins, but a few spoonfuls of these medicines might just help your debt go down.