So now that you have graduated college, landed a good stable-income-producing job, you are now considered a bona fide adult. (Right?)
Not only are you now considered legally allowed to vote, consume alcohol, and pay taxes all on your own. (Yay you!)
Even though cash is king, there are several instances in life where cash is not preferred such as buying a plane ticket. You may have already noticed that before landing your job, renting your apartment, or leasing your car that you were asked for consent to do a background check as well as a credit check.
But you are also a newly minted credit user as well. This means that you, if you have not already done so yet, you are now subject to credit checks by credit agencies like TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax, whether you like it or not.
So what exactly does this have to debt with getting rid of debt and more importantly, what does this mean for you, exactly? You may ask.
The short answer is, everything.
From the small purchases you make like your usual morning cup of latte to your one of your largest purchases like your first home, credit usage will depend largely on your ability to pay down and eventually pay off your debts, on time, every time.
Utilizing these 10 tips will quickly help you chip away at your debt and propel you forward in your life.
1-Freeze! (Stop Your Spending): Cancel all of those subscription services, cut up those credit cards, and let’s stop the trickle of spending from occurring to prevent a constant money leak from happening every month.
2-Assign Every Dollar & Every Cent: Track your money and really examine each dollar into and out of your wallet by first making a simple spending journal each week by writing down all your expenses for the week (to the penny) do this for about a month. Unlike that checking and savings account ledger that’s buried somewhere in one of your purses collecting dust, this will be an eye-opening exercise for you to really hold yourself accountable.
3-Needs -VS- Wants: Ask yourself these questions in your head each time you are faced with the decision on whether or not to spend money. It will soon become like second nature after a few times of practicing. “Is it really necessary for me to buy this now?” “Will I die without it?” “Can this wait until I can actually pay for it in cash and not feel like I need to take a couple of doses of Pepto-Bismol to justify my purchase?”
4-If you must buy, then buy used: Contrary to popular belief, not everything you buy needs to be new. For instance, we buy used; books, electronics, appliances, vehicles, and even clothing (all except underwear because we believe in clean undies.) All of these are good contenders for this “rule.” We have recently bought our cars used and paid for them in cash and we couldn’t be any happier. We even bought one of them online! You can check out it out here on: Carvana.com
5-De-clutter and sell your stuff to pay down debt: If you feel inclined to do so and if you’re brave enough, take this idea even further and go dumpster diving to flip goods for extra cash. If you have ever received any hand-me-downs from friends or family in great condition or new with tags, try your hand at re-selling them on some platforms like eBay, thredup.com, or swap.com for a profit. Our family does this on a quarterly basis as our kids continue to grow out of their clothes and shoes so quickly. It is a great way to save some much-needed space in their closets and, of course, recoup more money back into our pockets for a rainy day.
6-Downsize Your Residence: Is your high-end loft in the city costing you more than your arm and your leg? Then it’s time to trade down to start keeping your wallet from going empty and finally be able to hold onto your hard earned cash. If you are concerned about living in a certain area because of a school district, consider compromising by downsizing into an apartment to save up for a bigger place for the next school year.
7-Meal Plan And Avoid The Drive-Thru: This doesn’t mean eating a consecutive meal of rice and beans for breakfast lunch and dinner for the entire month. But maybe you can consider buying your staples, such as rice, beans, and other dried goods, in bulk when they are on sale to get you through the winter months. Cooking a large meal once on a Sunday and then freezing the leftovers for a quick one-minute microwave warm-up will be a lifesaver on those busy swim meet nights. Revamp that rotisserie chicken that you got from the deli and turn it into two meals instead of one. You can serve rotisserie chicken one night and then make a chicken pot pie meal with the leftover chicken meat on a different night during the same week. We have done this on numerous occasions making shredded barbeque chicken sliders one night and then using the leftover meat for kicked up spicy chicken ramen bowl on a different night of the same week.
8-Kill Two Birds With One Stone: Put feelers around the office water cooler and offer to carpool to work with a few local coworkers and switch days or take turns driving. If that just won’t do, you can try biking to work and get in some much-needed exercise to boot. You will benefit not only in health (the exercise) but also in wealth (saving you gas money and wear & tear on your car)!
9-Swap Meals: Host a potluck dinner party with some close friends or neighbors. Ask each person to bring their own side dish and/or beverage to share. Take turns doing this each month or if you’re all really tight with one another, on a weekly basis and watch your wallet grow! Not only was this a popular choice for us during college, but it has proven to be a lifesaver for us during these child-rearing years as well. Everyone seems to benefit from eating something different and we all enjoy each other’s company just as well.
10-Switch your phone lines and share: Looking back on it now, I just cringe at the thought that we used to pay $118 per month on our cell phone bill for my husband and me when we had a plan with Verizon. 🙁 But since we switched to Ting.com we’ve only paid anywhere between $45-$60 per month, depending on data usage and roaming charges. Even so, we never had any complaints about our Ting service. That’s a huge difference in cash savings for us! We’re so glad that we finally made the switch and start keeping more of our hard-earned cash right in our pockets where it belongs.
So whether you are pulling out your credit card for that morning latte or saving up to plunk down a chunk of cash for a deposit on your first home, reducing and eliminating debt is vital to maintaining your financial health.
To help you further keep track of your hard earned cash, I have created this free printable Weekly Expenses Tracker so that you know exactly where to plug your money leaks. Start off slowly one week at a time and see where your money is actually going.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of this, you’ll feel more confident about how to handle your personal finances.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll even try your hand at creating a budget too!