From Thanksgiving through New Years, many of us throw caution to the wind. We spend more and we eat more, and even now, many of us are recovering from all that excess.
Credit card bills feel like ransom notes, and zip-up pants refuse to fit—no matter how hard we force the issue!
This is the time of year for cutting back, for paying off consumer debt and trimming waistlines. We’ll spare you the diet tips (for now), and focus instead on reducing consumer debt. We’ll get you started with five savings suggestions. But nobody knows your financial habits or needs better than you do, so we’re sure you can come up with some great ideas of your own, too. If you can spend just $50 less each week, that’s $2,600 worth of reduced debt or money set aside for your future.
- Put away the credit cards. Switching to an all-cash economy for even a short time can be an enlightening experience. It is one of the simplest, safest things you can do to control spending. Go through your wallet, remove all the credit cards, and tuck them away in a safe place for the next six months. Switch to paying for purchases with cash or a debit card—while keeping an eye on your bank balance so you don’t overdraw the account. Every transaction you make will be a reality check on your spending.
- Know your weak points. We all have them, and it doesn’t matter what they are—vinyl records, books, shoes, ties, gadgets, cupcakes, home decor . . . You just have to know where your own spending temptations lie in wait for you and plan to avoid them for a little while. Stay on the straight and narrow for a few months, put the money saved toward reducing those credit card balances—or padding your savings account—and you can reward yourself with a special purchase after you’ve made some progress.
- Invest in a lunch kit. If you’ve gotten into the habit of buying lunch, you’re one habit change away from paying off your consumer debt faster than you might imagine. Do you know how much you spend on takeout or sit-down lunches? Is it $40, $50, $60 a week? Buy yourself a new lunch kit—they get fancier and more versatile by the day—and reduce bought lunches to a weekly treat, and you’ll trim your waistline and your spending at the same time.
- Look for hidden savings. Between streaming services, cable packages, gym memberships, credit cards with annual fees, cell phone deals—and who knows what else—we bet you can find at least one thing that you’re either paying too much for or could just as happily live without. Do you really use all the options available through your cable provider, or would you be fine with a less expensive package? Do you need Prime Video, and NetFlix, and Hulu? Would a digital antenna and one streaming service be enough? Did you actually cancel your subscription to MoviePass, or did you just stop going to the movies? Individually, these are small expenses, but they add up. Any expense you can eliminate is a step in the right direction.
We love talking about saving money—check out a previous blog post for even more tips!