When you have the stress of debt, it can seem like you’ll never have it paid off.
With a combination of student loans, car payments, credit cards, and medical bills, it can feel like you have debt up to your eyeballs.
Many people daydream about living without the stress of debt. Your shoulders relax and you can breathe more deeply just imagining what life would be like without all those payments.
Well, if you’re looking for ways to kickstart your finances and make that debt-free dream a reality, you’re in luck.
You see, my husband and I combined paid off $60,000 in student loans in just a few years.
Here are 9 painless things you can instantly eliminate from your budget to start getting out of debt.
1. Eating Out
Oh boy, here’s a big one.
Eating out is incredibly expensive. Fast food? Overpriced. Delivery charges? Unnecessary. Restaurants? Super pricey.
If you’re used to eating food on the go, this one simple thing could be a gamechanger for your budget. Like you could easily save $400 or more per month by cooking meals at home.
If you were to throw that saved money at your debt instead of eating it, you could save SO much money.
Here’s a simple example: if you have around $50,000 in debt with an 8% interest rate, an extra payment of $400 per month would save you nearly $28,000 dollars.
Think of that next time you’re ordering food on the go. (I love prepayment calculators like this to help me figure out how much money you can save by prepaying debt.)
Before you chuck your phone at the mere thought of giving up your lattes, bear with me.
I love coffee and lattes too. However, if you calculate how much money a $5-a-day habit costs, you might be shocked.
Spending $5 each day adds up to $1,680 per year. Worth it? Maybe.
But hear this: If you have the same debt scenario mentioned in #1, your coffee habit is really costing you $17,514. Because if you were to put that $5 a day toward debt instead of in your mug, you could save over $17,000 of interest payments.
So while I’m not saying you have to ditch the habit completely, brewing your coffee at home for mere cents per cup is one of my best frugal living tips. Do this and you can have your coffee and get out of debt too.
3. Trips to the Nail Salon
If you’re a regular at the nail salon, you could potentially save thousands of dollars each year by cutting out manicures and pedicures.
Instead of paying the pricey fees for these services, you can do your nails yourself at home, have a girlfriend paint them while you’re sippin’ wine, or forgo nail polish altogether.
4. Expensive Gifts
Instead of giving gifts to every family member and friend under the sun, try saying no to more gifts this year.
It’s ok to be picky about who you buy gifts for, to give budget-friendly gifts, and to give your time whenever you can – after all, it’s free!
My husband and I almost always give time gifts to one another.
Either we do something simple together or we get guilt-free personal time to do a hobby we love. These memories are priceless, irreplaceable, and do not collect dust.
You can also consider some of these nontraditional gift ideas that could save your family money in the long run. So cutting back on gift giving is another painless way to save money.
5. Cable TV
Chances are you’re too busy to watch much TV, so why are you spending so much money on it each year?
My husband was reluctant to cut the cable, but with all the TV options available now, I can’t imagine paying a ridiculous cable bill again.
If you or your husband need tv, legit options we use are an old-school antenna, Netflix, and Sling (for sports). This could easily free up $500-$1200 per year to wipe out your debt instead.
6. Gym Membership
I am in no way recommending that you stop exercising. Exercise is great for your body and mind, no doubt.
However, if you’re looking for places to cut back spending so you can get out of debt, gym memberships are one to consider. You can still get exercise for free by walking out your front door and doing planks in your living room.
And, do you know what burns calories and builds your strength even faster?
When your munchkins climb on you while you’re planking and when you’re pushing 50+ pounds in a double stroller that weighs 35 pounds by itself.
Anyone else with me here? Mamas, you are strong!
Just like physical exercise for your body, we’re healthier when we read and exercise our minds too. But what many people don’t know is that there are many ways to get free audiobooks and download ebooks for free. If you prefer paperback and hardcover books, borrow books from friends and become a regular at your local library.
I have no idea the last time I paid to watch a movie. For one, I can hardly stay awake to watch an entire movie anymore. But even when I do attempt to watch a movie, I never pay extra for it.
Instead of paying for trips to the theatre or rentals, you can watch movies via:
- Netflix if you have it
- Amazon Prime Video if you’re an Amazon Prime member
- Local Libraries
- Redbox (sign up for their email list and you’ll get free Redbox codes nearly every week.)
- Borrow from neighbors, friends, and family
9. Overdraft Fees
Fees of any kind are cringe-worthy, but overdraft fees might be the worst.
Although you aren’t consciously “buying” overdraft fees, they are hefty and can add up to a massive waste of your money over time.
To avoid overdraft fees, start getting used to checking your bank account balance in the morning before you make any purchases for the day.
You can also opt out of overdraft protection so that you are aware as soon as your overdraft occurs. Some banks offer email or text notifications if your account gets below a certain threshold, which can help too. And here are even more tips for avoiding overdraft fees.
That’s a Wrap
Whether you are trying to get out from under a pile of debt, you’re pregnant and need money before the baby comes, or your family wants to go down to one income, there are lots of fairly painless things you can stop buying today. Keep in mind your bigger goals, and your new spending habits will soon become your new norm.