You have made the decision to start aggressively paying off debt – that’s great news! If you continue to only pay the minimum balance every month, you’ll end up paying WAY more in the long run due to interest. Making the decision to aggressively pay off your debt is the first and most important step to taking control of your finances!
Now that you have made that decision, it is time to start with things you can control and that you start implementing into your life TODAY. While larger expenses, such as mortgage/rent and car payments, will ultimately get you to paying off debt faster, it may be tougher to change at this very moment in time. And while increasing income is also a great way to make that extra money you can put towards your debt payoff, you may not have the time to take on a side hustle at this time.
But don’t worry, there are areas in your expenses that you can start chipping away at ASAP to help you reach your goal of paying off debt! Here are 5 areas that you can look at and decrease your spending:
1. Fancy Dine-In Restaurants
When I started working as a PT, and I found myself making a full time living for the first time in my life, I spent that money lavishly on eating out. When I look back at my budgets from my first year as a PT, I was eating out 4 nights a week, buying lunch 2-3 times a week, and going to brunch 1-2 times a week. And holy cow, that added up.
Once I decreased my spending at restaurants, not only did I find myself with a couple hundred dollars every month that I could put towards debt, but I found myself really enjoying cooking. I enjoy getting creative with meals with what I have in my pantry or what is fresh at my local supermarket. My husband and I like to create new recipes together as a date night, instead of spending a ton of money at a restaurant, and we love that we can be in the comfort of our home and still enjoy our time together. I have even gotten to the point where when I eat out (which is rare), I find that I can actually create the dish the same, if not better, at home!
If you can’t quit eating out full turkey (pun somewhat intended), you can try to order things during happy hour, where the prices will be lower. Google other restaurants in your area and compare prices to see what is more affordable. Or instead of eating out for all three meals of the day, make it a goal to only order out for one meal a day.
If you are trying to crush debt, you don’t need the latest most trendy Lululemon attire. The clothes you have are doing its job, and learn to love the clothes that you already own!
I used to constantly buy new clothes when it was trendy, as I used to feel so compelled to fit in with my peers and how they were dressed. But then I found myself using these articles of clothing only a handful of times, before the trend faded and I ended up either reselling it or donate it.
After some hard work at self-reflecting on what I value, I realized that I don’t care about how I dress and needing to fit in based on my attire. I like my clothes to be comfortable, casual, and last me a long time. I have now grown to love my minimalist closet, am comfortable in every outfit that I own, and find that my style is timeless because it reflects MY style, not what’s the latest fashion trend.
But if you really need a new jacket or a new pair of work pants, as your current one is truly breaking down, try out your local thrift store or resell apps like Mercari, Poshmark, OfferUp, or Facebook Marketplace. You can find quality used clothes that will fit better in your tight budget as you payoff your debt.
I love reading, don’t get me wrong! But unless I really enjoy re-reading a book, I never buy it. I check out books at my local library, where I have access to thousands of books. FOR. FREE.
Living in Los Angeles, I’m lucky enough to have access to multiple libraries! I have a LA County Library and a LA Public Library card, which gives me so many options. I can check out hardcovers, paperbacks, eBooks for my Kindle, and Audiobooks as well too. Check out your local library, browse their catalog, and sign up for your free library card today!
However, if you’re dying to get your hands on a book that you want to keep on your bookshelf, try visiting local used bookstores and thrift stores. In some neighborhoods, they have Little Free Libraries, which is the world’s largest book sharing movement. The concept of “Leave a Book, Take a Book,” helps to allow you to read books for free, and to not waste our planet’s valuable resources as many books end up getting thrown away if not donated.
4. Get-Away Vacations
My husband and I love to travel. But, we have learned over the years to do things more frugally. When our finances were tight, we opted out of expensive destination travel, and looked into more local and frugal activities that were just as fun!
So while you are paying off debt, as you start to plan your next get-away, make it a staycation! Go explore a new hiking trail or beach within driving distance. See if you can get a day pass to a local resort’s pool. Book a local campsite and pack the tent and spend the night underneath the stars.
Traveling does not always require expensive plane tickets and fancy hotels. You can still find adventure right in your own home and in your own backyard!
What If I Can’t Decrease My Spending In All These Areas Right Now?
Now, I know that some of this still may seem like a challenge. Don’t feel like you need to make this huge lifestyle change all of a sudden! Taking baby steps is a great way to work your way towards decreasing your spending. And with the goal of paying off debt, you may find yourself more motivated than you think!
Here are other articles I have written that are related to decreasing spending to help you with paying off debt:
- Tips On How To Achieve A >50% Savings Rate
- Values Based Spending – Determining Your Core Values
- 12 Tips to Save this Holiday Season
- Cheap, Non-Conventional Cell Phone Plans
- 3 Methods to Pay off Your Debt
- How I Curbed My Spending Habits As A New Grad PT
So if you want to get started on paying off debt TODAY, let’s work together to help crush that debt! Click here to sign up for your FREE 20 minute consult.
Note: I am not a certified financial advisor/planner or a certified financial analyst or a CPA or an accountant or a lawyer. Remember, I am an allied health professional, just like you! This website/blog is for entertainment and educational purposes only. Please consult with your financial advisor(s) regarding your personal finance, investment, and tax matters.
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