Looking to save money and pay off debt? Here are some simple lifestyle changes and things you can do. Some may seem like common sense, however, some times we all don’t think as commonly as some.
First of all, I highly recommend David Ramsey and his advice and recommendations. You do not have to attend his Financial Peace University as I did. Most of all he advises and recommends can be found by searching online.
1.) Why buy new? The mark up on clothing, furniture and new vehicles is immense. Buy used. A car two years old is a good value as it has another year or more warranty and you save a ton of money verses buying brand new. Why buy those designer clothes brand new at full retail? Shop at thrift stores, consignment shops, etc… My son, and I, find great deals at Platos Closet, and Goodwill. I also shop on Ebay. Simply wash them well, and you are good to go and will save a lot of money.
2.) Food is typically your second most expensive monthly bill after your mortgage. Buy your groceries and discount food stores such as Aldi’s, and Trader Joe’s. At least buy the grocery brand over the brand name. Most are just as good, and at a lesser price. There is typically nothing wrong with most things generic from food to medicine to clothing. Also when making food, make something that is cost effective that can last for days such a chili, goulash, spaghetti. You can eat these as left overs for another day, or freeze them to eat in the future. If you plan well, and shop wisely, you can get a single person’s food budget down to under a hundred dollars a week. I know, as I have done it.
3.) Utilities is typically your third most expensive monthly bill. Why must you have your home thermostat at such a low temperature during the winter, and such a high temperature in the summer? In the summer, wear shorts, a t-shirt, and open the windows. If you have a basement, it is typically 10 to 20 degrees cooler. In the summer I keep my thermostat at 79, and I simply invest most of my home time in my basement. In the winter, I nearly do similar with the thermostat at around 63 and simply wear sweatpants and a sweat shirt. You will be pleasantly surprised on how much money you will save by doing similar. I have nearly cut my electric bill by 25% to 50%.
4.) Debt is not good, and we all should strive to do our best as not to be in debt. I understand a mortgage may be necessary especially if you get a really good rate of below 4%. However, other debt can destroy your finances if you let it. There is a way to leverage credit cards if you are cautious and disciplined. Opt for a cash back reward card, and pay it off every month. It’s a few extra dollars you can make by simply making normal purchases you already make. I like the new Apple Card, it offers a nice cash back, and it can be deposited in their Savings Account that earns near 5% interest. That is better than any savings account, and some CDs out there.
5.) Couples, split your meals. My Queen and I will often split one meal as most meals at restaurants are rather large. We are almost always content when we split our meals, and we also cut our calories in half with this process. ; )
6.) For goodness and wallet sake, turn off the lights. When leaving a room make it a habit for everyone to turn off the lights. The money leaving lights on, and some unnecessary appliances running can run up a utility bill.
7.) Why are you mailing, and printing so many things? Most of what you may be mailing, like bills, can be done online. I, myself, have rarely written a check unless it is required for school sports or pictures. Almost everything I do is electronic and online. The last time I think I used my printer was back in 2016, except for a meeting I needed paper copies quick for an important meeting. The money you will save in stamps, paper, and time can add up. Besides, did you know it is more secure to pay your bills electronically verses mailing a physical check?
8.) Why are you driving everywhere in a big vehicle, or near any vehicle for that matter? If it is within 5 miles (10k steps) simply walk. If you need to pick up just a few things, bring your back pack. If it seems to be too far or more than 5 miles, what about a motorcycle, or better yet a bicycle? You will save in gas, and become more healthy with the exercise. If you must travel in a vehicle, maybe ride sharing, and/or splitting the cost of gas with others.
9.) Sell, barter or trade what you don’t use, need, or have not used in a year or two. I am trying to get much better at this, and my Queen is exceptional at this. She is a minimalist. I know I have a lot of stuff I can sell that I do not need, or no longer use. My garage is crammed with a bunch of stuff, and I have a lot of clothes I have not worn for years that still have good value. I plan on some serious spring cleaning this spring and summer. Maybe you should consider it too. You may be surprised with the money you can make.
10.) Join a club. No, I am not saying join an expensive country club. However, joining a club such as The Moose, The Eagles, The VFW, etc can save you money on food, drinks, and entertainment. One club we belong too, the food is good, and 20% to 40% less at most restaurants. Plus, there are no taxes charged on the food and beverage purchases to you. In addition, there is free live music entertainment on the weekends. Besides a large percentage of purchases and your membership goes to worth while causes and charities
11.) If you have credit card debt, or temporarily have to leverage credit card debt, make it a goal to pay if off, even if you have to sacrifice a few un-necessities. Go with the lowest balance cards first. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and motivation to get any remaining credit cards paid off. Go with cash back rewards cards (unless you fly frequently) with the lowest interest rates as possible. Take the higher interest rate cards, and move them to another good card that offers a free interest rate for a long period of time, and work to pay off that amount in that time and not charge additional debt on top of it. I have two cards that have a cash back reward that I use to purchase just about everything I need, and even pay bills. I simply strive to pay if off within 30 days so I am not charged any interest, and I earn additional cash. Like I shared above, the Apple Card has a great offer right now. If you open their savings account, you earn nearly 4% interest and your cash reward is also deposited in that savings account. If ever you need that money in that savings account, you can simply transfer it to your own checking account. However, be cautious to make sure you pay off the balance every month as the Apple Card can have high interest rates.
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