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When it comes to paying off debt there are two ways to accomplish it, and most people employ both to really kick it in the butt. You can increase your income or you can decrease your expenses (ie. come up with things to stop buying to save money).
Whether you are out of hours in the day to add more work to your plate or you are just trying to squeeze every penny out of your budget you will have to learn to say, “no,” to lots of things. There are a million things to stop buying to save money, but these are the best 10 that can save you tons really fast.
10 Things I Learned to Say, “No,” to While Paying Off Debt:
1. Eating out.
According to The Simple Dollar, as a nation, we eat out 4-5 times a week, on average. That means people are only eating food they prepare in their home 2-3 times every week. That is insane!
The average cost of a meal out is $13 (money under 30). If you eat out 5 times a week at $13 each, that is $260 a month on eating out. That is just for one person. If you are married, you can double that!
Eating out is one of the first things you should be cutting out if you are trying to save money. I love what Dave Ramsey says about this. It is along the lines of, if you are in debt, the only time you should see the inside of the restaurant is if you are taking people’s orders. I completely agree with this.
Even if you are completely cheap and skip the appetizer and get water, you are easily still spending $40 for dinner for 2. If you do this 2-4 times a month, it could add up to $2,000 a year! That’s an insane amount of money to spend on something that goes in your toilet….Gross, I know, but seriously.
If you stop eating out, you could easily cut your food budget in half. To cut down on your grocery costs even further, I strongly recommend meal planning. If the sound of those two words together is nauseating, don’t give up just yet. I am a total meal plan convert. Check this out:
Meal Planning for Beginners: 6 Reasons to Start Meal Planning Today
What’s For Dinner? How to Easily Plan a Month of Meals
Monthly Meal Plan on a Budget: Less than $100 a Month for Dinners for a Family of Four
The Life Saving 12-Week Rotating Meal Plan
2. Cut the cable.
I feel like this should be one of the first things you do because there are so many other options out there for you to still enjoy T.V.
Standard cable (and don’t even get me started on Dish) can be upwards of $100/month. That is insane! If you are spending over $15/month, you are spending too much. I have not had cable for 5 years and I have never missed it.
Instead of cable, substitute with something else like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime (you get access to most of the same things you would find with Netflix). These subscriptions are cost-effective and you really aren’t missing out on much.
Get an old-school antenna to get your basic channels and move on with your life….with more money in your pocket.
3. Stop buying clothes.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average family spends ~$1,800 per year on clothing. That is a lot of money. If I were a betting lady, I would wager you have plenty of clothes already in your closet.
One of the best things you can do is take a clothing spending freeze. My husband and I did this and we easily saved $4,000-$5,000 within that time. Was it fun? Not always, but it was totally worth it to have his car paid off.
Want to know how to survive a clothing spending freeze? Check out our journey and helpful tips here. Anyone can do this, you just have to decide to do it!
4. Don’t go on vacation.
Vacations are for people with money. If you are broke, in debt or struggling financially, you should not be going on vacation. According to Credit Donkey, the average vacation cost per person is $1,145. If you have a family this is easy $5,000.
Vacations are a privilege, not an expected activity for your family. Is it nice to go somewhere awesome and post pictures on social media about how awesome your life is? Absolutely, but you don’t want the vacation costs following you home.
Nobody wants to pay for a vacation years later. It just isn’t worth it. An alternative to the vacation could be taking a small day trip to go camping or go to a museum and make a day out of it with a picnic. Get creative. Vacations are something you can enjoy later when you have money, a budget, and no debt.
5. Cancel your gym membership.
This was a tough one for my husband to get on board with. A gym membership is not a needed thing to stay in shape…..seriously. A gym membership can be $40/month for a basic membership.
For some, the money spent can be a motivating factor to get you to work out, but I would challenge you to put your gym membership dues straight toward your savings and let that motivate you to work out.
Create a nice workout space for yourself at home and use YouTube trainers for your workouts. Go for a run outside. Get creative about how you can work out. You will find alternatives that won’t cost you anything.
Even my husband was able to lose weight and still work out without a gym membership. It is definitely possible to accomplish your goals without a membership.
6. Stop going to the movies.
Movie tickets can be $10-$20 per person. This used to be my thing. Going to the movies was my favorite thing in the world. Silence, no one bothering me, and I was in a place where other people’s drama was not my concern, but I could watch it unfold and always end happily. Such a glorious experience.
Cutting out going to the movies was really tough. But, if you are a frequent movie goer, especially if you are buying things at concessions too, it could really be hitting your bank account more than you realize.
As an alternative, stick with Redbox for a movie rental. I have now cut this out as well, but it is still one-tenth of the cost of going to the movies.
7. Stick with generics.
I grew up in a home where generic items were not purchased. Name brand only. I was trained that generic would taste different and wasn’t as good.
I am here to tell you, generic is just as good!
On average, just by purchasing generic items instead of name brand, you could save 25% on your overall grocery bill. That’s huge! Food is already expensive enough, why not cut down your bill by another ¼?
Pro-tip: I do have to say, Aldi’s mac n’ cheese doesn’t hold a candle to Kraft’s mac n’ cheese. If I am spoiling myself, I will buy a box of Kraft…..and not share it with my kids. I give you permission to do this too. I get it.
8. Starbucks is no longer your happy place.
Starbucks and I have a very special relationship. Starbucks taught me to love coffee. Coffee became my life source and allowed me to get through veterinary school. If you follow my logic, I basically owe my veterinary degree to Starbucks. We are total besties.
Here’s the deal though, Starbucks is a total money suck. The average drink is $4-$5. And you may say, “but I only get an Americano!” Or, “I just get a cup their house blend!” Guess what? You are still spending more than you would if you made your own coffee AND you are putting yourself in that amazing place where you will very likely want a blueberry scone or a cake pop because hey! Why not?
Just say no to Starbucks. Don’t even risk it by going in there because you know you are going to have to get that Caramel Macchiato while you are there because that caramel is just one-of-a-kind and it’s so pretty how it dribbles down the inside of the cup, you are basically buying art.
9. Take a break from your hair stylist.
Most hairstylists recommend a haircut every 6-8 weeks. Instead of this, stretch out those visit to every 12-16 weeks. Skipping haircuts will cut down on your expenses in a big way. Especially if you are doing highlights or some other type of coloring.
It’s been about 6 months since I have been the salon now and I am not suffering. I just keep track of how much money I am saving (currently $400!!)
If your hair is currently dyed, try to get it back as close as possible to your natural color and then start skipping those appointments.
10. Stop trying to be Joanna Gaines.
This one is so hard! Trying to decorate your home or doing small home improvement projects will destroy your budget and get you to spend money faster than you ever imagined. We all want a perfect home, but it definitely comes at a cost.
You won’t be in debt forever. Once you are out of debt, then you can decorate your home. Until then, just make do with what you have, heck, you really should be selling most of your stuff to make extra income anyways.
Think about it, if you wanted to “freshen up” just one room, you are looking at pillows, rugs, curtains, knick-knacky decor, picture frames, etc. That could easily be $300-$400. It just isn’t worth it when you could put that money toward debt.
Instead of being embarrassed by your home, just focus on being proud of the money you are saving. If people want to be judgemental that’s fine, but I guarantee you they are in debt and have no control over their finances.
These are 10 of the easiest things to cut out of your life to make a big impact quickly! A lot of these changes will be temporary so keep that in mind when you are making choices for your life. Learning to say, “no,” to certain things in your life will truly make you a better person in the long run. What’s awesome is, you will be saving money and paying off debt along the way!
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Some good tips. Getting rid of cable is a must, the antenna works great for us, we get 26 channels clearer than cable, plus networks stream shows from their websites, so cable tv is a waste of money and who needs 150 channels of junk you do not watch.
I brew my coffee at home and take it to work with me in my insulated mug. We avoid soda and we brew sun tea in the summer, and have to heat the water on the stove for the tea during the colder months, we drink it unsweetened with a little lemon. Much cheaper than bottled drinks and we have great water from our well, so we don’t buy plastic bottles of water that do not taste as good. When I see people with carts full of bottled water, I think what a waste of money.
We buy the generic store brands rather than The national brands, same contents in the can, probably even canned in the same factory, just has a different label and I am not trying to impress anyone with the contents of my recycling bin.
Haircuts are a must, my boys get theirs monthly or I think they look sloppy, mine gets trimmed every other month, so I am not going to take a break from my stylist as he is my husband. Hubby does a great job giving the boys their haircuts using the clippers, attachments as well as the comb and shears. He doesn’t shave them bald. They get very nice haircuts and look well groomed. Hubby sets me on the stool, combs out my hair, sections it and trims each layer in 1/2” increments from my nape to my crown. He does an excellent job with my hair and he has even given haircuts to two of my friends and my mother. So I assure you I am not walking around with a wonky looking haircut. Can’t say that when I used to have to go to rhe salon. I figure his skills with the clippers and shears easily save me close to a grand a year when you figure in the cost of haircuts, tip, transportation costs and time saved. It takes him about ten minutes each to give the boys a haircut and mine about 20-25 minutes. Faster than the drive to just go someplace to get a haircut and some much more convenient. It may not work for everyone, I have friends that say it’s great your husband can cut your hair for you, can I get him to cut mine too? but there is no way they would trust their husband with taking the shears to their hair. And sadly I have seen children and some men with really bad haircuts some moms did that they really should have gone to get fixed rather than let them go out in public looking like that.
We do a garden and while it sounds easy, it is a lot of work to plant, water, fertilize, weed as well as harvest, freeze and can. So there is sweat equity involved, but the food tastes better and we know what we are eating.
Hubby also keeps the temperature set to 60 in the house, if I get feeling cold, he tells me to put on a fleece or sweater, while he walks around in a t-shirt. In the summer we use fans and open windows, no central AC.
As for the vacation spending, I know a coworker that her family took a cruise and it cost ten thousand for her family. I thought that was crazy! And my son wanted to know why we don’t take vacations like that. Because we are not blowing our savings is why.
We don’t drive new cars, my husband has a 2009 and I have a 2011 vehicle. Yes there are costs of maintenance and repairs, but those costs are there as well with new cars, plus a monthly payment.
Awesome!! It sounds like you guys are on the right track!!