The black cloud of debt typically does not appear overnight. Likewise, climbing out of debt takes time. With a focused plan and determination, you can chip away at even an overwhelming sum and become debt free. Cutting expenses helps free up cash that you can use to pay down the debt. This method of debt reduction may be easier to live with than you think.
Fuel is a necessity, but a frugal user can cut costs with a few lifestyle changes. Discontinue unnecessary driving by grouping errands. Combine exercise and cost cutting by biking if possible. Join a carpool for the work commute.
Household fuel consumption also can be reduced by lowering the thermostat in the winter and raising it in the summer. Lower the temperature on the hot water heater and turn it off completely when heading out of town for an extended period.
Be conscious about turning off lights, computers and other appliances that use electricity while in their sleep state. It might be pennies on the dollar, but those pennies add up and can help pay down your looming debt.
Find the Freebies
Not everything comes at a cost. Find the freebies and cut certain expenses down to zero. If you enjoy reading, check out books from the library instead of downloading to your tablet or buying paperbacks; movies can be checked out there, too. Scour the weekend newspaper for free concerts, plays and movie nights in local parks. Invite friends over for potluck dinners and game night instead of meeting at restaurants or clubs. Trade services with friends and family members who have skills in a particular area. If you love to work in the yard, trade landscaping services with someone who is good at something you need such as house painting or home repairs.
Food for Thought
If you eat out a lot, track your restaurant charges for one week and then set a plan to whittle those expenses out of your budget. Prepare lunch at home instead of hitting up delis and fast food restaurants. Make your morning coffee at home instead of stopping at the local coffee shop. Choose only one night a week to enjoy dinner at a restaurant. When grocery shopping, create a list before heading into the supermarket. Purchase only what is on the list and use manufacturer's coupons when available. Check the store's weekly circular before creating your menu plan and shopping list. Take advantage of in-store sales and weekly specials.
Be a Dropout
Determine whether you are getting your money's worth out of any paid memberships or subscriptions. Going to the gym once a week or less might not be money well spent. Newspapers, movies, magazines and any other items that are delivered on a regular basis should be evaluated, as should your cable TV and cell phone packages. Cancel or reduce anything you can until the debt is eliminated. If you have a membership contract, process the cancellation to prevent an automatic renewal.
Cindy Phillips began writing feature articles in 2007 with her work appearing in several regional newspapers. With more than 30 years experience in the corporate arena, her business expertise includes all aspects of marketing and management. Phillips earned a Bachelor of Arts in English education from SUNY New Paltz.