Inside: Find out how you can save money while paying off debt, and why you want to do so.
It is fun being an adult at first. You get to stay up late, go out with friends, indulge in those nifty subscription boxes and buy from the tv shopping channels.
And then the bills start coming in. You set up your account to make the minimum required payment, so it’s all good. And then one month you actually look at the total amount you owe. Yikes!
You then realize that paying bills and watching your spending is part of being an adult. Ouch. That part is not so much fun.
How can you pay those bills and your rent and still manage to save some money? It is possible.
Cut the excess
The first thing you are going to want to do, well, should do, when tackling those bills and trying to save money, is to get rid of the bloat.
Unless you have gone through this exercise before, you will probably be surprised how many extra expenses you can eliminate or reduce. It is all the little things that creep up on you and into your life, and then inertia sets in.
Are you paying for magazines or other monthly subscriptions that you never use or don’t really enjoy? Then cancel them.
Have you been paying for monthly clothing boxes at inflated prices? Just how many clothes do you need? Cancel it.
Wine of the month club? Maybe when you can afford it.
Also under the microscope should be your cell phone plan and cable bill. If you are stuck in an expensive phone contract, shop around for less expensive plans. If you are paying for cable, chances are you can pocket a lot of savings by dropping cable and switching to other services.
If that all seems overwhelming, then sit down and make a list of all your subscriptions and non-essential bills. Tackle them one at a time.
Once you have made cuts to excess expenses, divide the savings between debt payment and savings. If, after all your cuts, you have an extra $200/month available, maybe you want $150 to go towards debt payment and then you can set up a monthly transfer of $50 to savings.
The amount going towards savings at this point doesn’t really matter. What does is that you are starting to make a habit of putting money into savings.
When you have done this, step back and take assess your progress. Do you feel deprived? Or do you feel that you made smart decisions?
Change your shopping habits
Are your closets and dresser overflowing with clothes that you hardly ever wear? Then it is time to revamp your shopping habits.
This isn’t about decluttering (although, that’s not a bad idea). It’s about not buying a new blue t-shirt every few months because the old one has holes in it. Holes that the slightly more expensive t-shirt wouldn’t get until a couple years of wear. Spending a little extra on quality fabric and cuts for things you wear often will often save you money in the long run.
It is about buying that nice expensive dress at full price that you wore once to impress the guy you broke up with last year. You know what? He didn’t notice or care. Yep, you could have gotten the $20 clearance rack dress or wore something you already owned and put the extra money into savings.
Changing your shopping habits is also about taking time to think about your purchases before you make them. How many times will you really wear the purple polka-dotted shirt? By pausing and re-evaluating your purchases, you’ll likely spend less. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked myself out of buying something, but it is a lot.
Changing your shopping habits may or may not yield impressive results right away, but in the long run, it will pay off with reduced spending and waste.
Pay down debt
Of course, while you are saving money, you want to be paying down your debt. The more debt you pay off, the more money you can squirrel away into savings.
It really doesn’t matter if you choose a debt snowball or debt avalanche method to pay off your debt. And trust me, both of those methods will help you pay off your debt far faster than minimum required payments will. The important thing is to tackle your debt and pay it off in a way that motivates you.
Earn extra income
While you are paying down your debt, another option for putting more money into savings is to earn some side income. This could be anything from dog walking to answering surveys, doing consulting work, or taking on some weekend Craigslist gigs.
If the working for extra income becomes part of your routine, saving becomes that much easier.
It is tempting to grab that large coffee from the coffee shop at almost $5 a pop. But, try saving it for Monday mornings and the rest of the week you turn on your coffee maker, brew your own and put it in a cup to take to the office. The money you save can be put into your savings account.
Let’s say it was $5 a workday that you are spending. Dropping it to one day a week means $20 a week you can put into savings, or over $1000 a year, and you still get your morning cup of coffee and a weekly splurge.
How about lunches and dinners? Are you getting take out or going to a restaurant more than once a week? Chances are that is another easy money saving opportunity.
Can’t cook? You don’t need to know much, and there are a TON of YouTube videos and websites to teach you the basics. Start with making a sandwich and frying an egg and work from there.
Stick with the new habits
Hopefully, the newer approaches to shopping and spending decisions stick after a bit of practice. You’ll find you aren’t deprived and have more money available each month to move over to your savings account, even while you are paying off your debt.
Have you managed to save money while paying off debt?