Making the decision to get out of debt is one thing. Coming up with the money to do it is another. Tap into all the resources you can to fund your get out of debt plan.
There are two basic ways to get more money to pay off your debts. The first is to decrease your expenses. The second is to increase your income. Below are some ideas to do both.
As you read through each item, you'll probably think "This will only save me $5 or $10 a month." If you have 10 ways to save just $100 a month, that's an extra $100 you can put towards your debt. Not all of these will apply to you and that's ok. Adopt as many as you can, even if it means making a small sacrifice. The more of these you can adopt, the more money you'll have to accomplish your goal.
Decrease Your Expenses
Spend less on food
- Cook at home instead of eating out
- Cook from scratch rather than eating premade dinners
- Swap meat (it's often the most expensive part of the meal) for a less expensive form of protein like beans or eggs, even if it's just for one day or one meal per week.
- Take your lunch to work
- Grocery shop with a list and stick to it
- Don't shop while you're hungry, you're prone to overbuy
- Use coupons, but only for items you'd buy anyway
- Start a container garden
- Buy store brands
- Use leftovers to make new meals
- Freeze excess foods, like Thanksgiving leftovers or extra spaghetti sauce, to eat another day
- Let your kids pack their lunch, even if it's just a few times each week
- When you dine out, get water instead of soda
- Avoid buying non-grocery items at the grocery store where they tend to cost more
- Read circulars or check online to see when things are on sale
- Ditch Starbucks and make your own coffee. Or drink the coffee at work.
- Use reusable grocery bags and shop at stores that give you a discount for doing so.
- Pack food for road trips rather than stopping at fast food restaurants
- Avoid impulse buys at the cash register
Cut your transportation costs
- Buy the right gas for your car (87/89/93)
- Get your car serviced regularly to optimize gas mileage
- Run all your errands in a single trip
- Avoid unncessary driving
- Trade your SUV for a cheaper, more gas-friendly car
- Telecommute if your employer will allow it
- Do price comparison on major repairs, especially with dealership quotes
- Make sure you have the lowest possible insurance rate - get new quotes periodically
- Increasing your insurance deductible will often decrease your rate
- Don't get any new tickets or have any accidents and your insurance rate might go down
- Walk or ride a bike when you can. You'll get exercise and save money on gas.
Reduce what you spend on clothes
- Forget about designer labels
- Get trend-proof clothes
- Wear layers in the winter instead of buying new sweaters
- Don't forget sales racks, thrift, and consignment
- Launder your clothes appropriately to get longer wear
- Avoid dry clean only labels (to save on dry cleaning)
- Learn to sew - you can update old clothes, alter ill-fitting clothes, and repair holes to make your clothes last longer
- Refashion old clothes
- Buy clothes at the end of the season when they're on sale
- Buy versatile clothing that can function in several different outfits
Be entertained for less
- Cancel monthly movie subscriptions like Netflix or Blockbuster or share these services with a friend or roommate.
- Exchange movies with friends instead of renting
- Rent movies for $1 a night from Redbox or a Blockbuster Kiosk
- Check out DVDs from the library
- Catch movies on cable instead of going out
- Catch a matinee when movie prices are a few dollars cheaper. Check for a dollar cinema in your area. They play the films that are no longer in the theater but haven't been released on DVD.
- Books: Use the library instead of buying new books
- Music: Purchase a song or two through Amazon or iTunes instead of purchasing an entire album
- Have game night with family and friends
Lower your housing costs
- Move to an apartment with lower rent
- Refinance your mortgage for a lower interest rate
- Get a roommate (or two)
- Do your own home repairs
- Do your own lawn maintenance and landscaping
- Make your own kitchen cleaner
Cut your cable/satellite/internet cost
- Cancel premium channel subscriptions
- Go basic
- Nix pay-per-view and movies on demand
- Ask for a promotional rate
- Cut it off entirely
- Use Hulu or visit the network's website to find recent episodes of your favorite shows
- Buy your modem instead of renting from the service provider
- Minimize the number of devices with their own internet plan. For example, you don't need internet for your smartphone and your tablet.
Lower your phone bill(s)
- Use your cell phone as your primary phone. Get rid of the landline.
- Bundle your phone (if you keep it) with your cable and internet
- Ask for a promotional rate
- Get the right rate plan for your cell phone
- Turn off unnecessary features, even if you have to talk or text less
- Stick with the pre-installed ringtones instead of downloading new ones
- Only download free apps and beware apps that have in-app purchases
Lower your utility bills
- How to Lower Your Water Bill, About Frugal Living
- How To Lower Your Electric Bill, About Frugal Living
Re-evaluate luxury services
- Can you wash your own car?
- Can you mow your own lawn?
- Paint your own nails vs. paying for a manicure
- Cut out visits to the spa
- Get your hair trimmed less often
- Take a staycation instead of a vacation
- Ditch the gym membership. Use fitness DVDs and at-home workout routines.
Banking and Finances
- Don't pay late fees. Make sure to pay all your bills on time.
- Avoid bank overdrafts or nonsufficient funds fees. Always check your account balance if you're unsure whether you have enough money to cover a transaction.
- Ask your bank how you have any monthly fees waived. Switch accounts/banks if necessary.
- Use your bank's ATM to avoid paying additional fees. Or, make a small purchase inside a store and choose the cash back option.
- Make a budget and stick to it
- Use expense tracking to figure out where you're spending the most money
- Cancel subscriptions and other recurring charges
Increase Your Income
- Pay the right amout of taxes, tweak your tax withholding if necessary
- Optimize your benefits, by making sure you're getting the best benefits from your job
- Ask for a pay raise, here's how to do it
- Work some overtime hours
- Get a second job
- Make money from a hobby
- Sell your arts and crafts on Etsy
- Check to see if you have unclaimed money, but watch out for scams
- Start a tutoring business
- Play an instrument? Give weekly lessons