So you want to pay off debt? Not sure how you’ll find the money to make extra payments? If you’re wondering how to get out of debt quickly, you’ll need to be prepared to make some changes in your life but you can probably squeeze the extra money from your existing budget without having to take on extra jobs.
I personally had around $30,000 in consumer debt (things like personal loans and credit cards) which needed to be paid back so I could travel and live a debt-free lifestyle. I made a lot of changes to my finances in order to become debt free. I’m still constantly optimising my finances – the work is never done!
When I was getting started on paying down debt, I decided to give up a lot of my ‘creature comforts’ to achieve my goal. Here are 11 of the things I no longer pay for, which give me a huge financial cushion!
I know, I know, I know. Every single blogger in the entire universe says this. But I’m obsessed with coffee and buying a home espresso machine has saved me thousands. I used to spend $5 a day on coffee. Now I spend maybe $5 a week on milk and ground coffee and make a kick-ass coffee at home in my lovely espresso machine.
Credit card interest
I used to just pay the minimum balance each and every month. Needless to say, I paid thousands in credit card interest over the years. I finally broke the cycle and paid off my credit card debt so now credit cards are simply an awesome life tool to help me live better. I pay the balance in full each month and never pay interest.
In the year we saved shedloads of cash for travel, I gave up my daily return bus ride to work and started cycling to my office. Not only did I save about $30 per week, I lost 20 pounds and had the best muscle definition in my legs.
I estimate I’d spend $50 on alcohol in a quiet weekend, and over $200 if there was a good DJ in town and an all-nighter was on the cards.
Haircuts and colours at the salon
Salon visits used to run me at least $150 a pop. Before I could afford a salon I would dye my hair all kinds of crazy colours (blue, fire truck red) with home kits. Now, I’ve embraced my natural mousy brown colour and purchased a good pair of hair cutting scissors. I’m quite lucky to have dead straight hair so it’s very easy to cut myself. For a tutorial on how to cut your own hair, go here.
I started smoking when I was 14 and tried to quit about 6 times. I finally succeeded in 2009, more for my health than finances. But I’m so glad I quit when I did. I don’t miss it at all.
I’m a perpetual joiner so I always had an active gym membership and barely used it. I closed my gym membership when I started cycling to work and haven’t looked back. Just recently, I joined a gym for a three-month trial and sure enough, I never had the time to workout. The best way for me to exercise is by incorporating workouts into my regular day so cycling to work or walking to get the groceries works for me.
OK so I may not have completely given up on beautiful handbags (you should see the gorgeous black clutch I got from Fossil on a recent trip to Orlando) but I no longer go shopping, so I don’t get tempted. I haven’t purchased a new handbag since 2014.
We used to have an enormous bag of laundry washed and dried each Saturday for $20. It was actually excellent value but we moved to a different apartment with a coin laundry so we couldn’t resist getting the same service for $4, albeit with a lot more manual input from us.
4 lunches per week
No, I didn’t work a four day week #goals, but I don’t react well to total deprivation so I brought my lunch from home four days each week and got a fancy lunch on Fridays.
From the time I departed for Australia in September 2003 until my return to New Zealand in April 2013, I did not own a car. There were a brief few months when I had an old beater in Sydney that cost four times its purchase price in repairs within the first few months, but I got rid of that quick smart.
You know what, I didn’t even miss a single one of these things when I was serious about paying down debt. I now have a car (a 16-year-old Toyota Corolla that will be driven until it dies) but I still live quite happily without daily takeaway coffees, a laundry service, smoking (ugh!) and frequent drinking.
You’ll need to make some big changes to get out of debt and save money, but it’s totally possible to make huge savings in your everyday life if you’re prepared to change. I never thought I could give up shopping, daily coffee or smoking (!!) but I’ve done all three and I’m all the better for it.
I now have no bad debt other than a small mortgage and have the freedom to travel when I want. Living a debt-free lifestyle is awesome, and totally worth the hard work.
If you want to change your life, you have to do things differently. As my old Weight Watchers leader used to say, “nothing changes if nothing changes”.
What small step could you take right now to change your future?