Change your habits and be free from d
How can you get out of debt? Change your money habits! Here are tips for making small, but significant changes to break free from debt for good!
Do you want to live debt-free?
Then you need to change your money habits.
In fact, this works in any area of your life.
If you want to change something, you need to examine your habits.
If you want to lose weight, then you need to change your diet (get rid of the ice cream!) and exercise!
Habits are the life-blood of our lives. We make it or break it depending on our habits.
Successful people have successful, reliable habits.
So, if you want to get out of debt then you need to take a good look at your money habits and make some changes.
If you are in terrible debt, don’t get discouraged. Remember the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
Change your money habits, change your life.
Being grateful for what you do have
Be grateful for what you do have and don’t compare your life (or car or house or possessions) with your neighbors.
Many times we see other people having things that we want and it can be tempting to grab a credit card and charge (for a nicer TV, a new iPhone, a bigger car) instead of using what we have and being happy with it.
I am currently renting an apartment while nearly all of my close friends own houses. Still, I choose to be grateful for the awesome apartment I have and the fact that I am almost completely debt-free.
Several years ago, I had a small, compact 20+-year-old car. Sometimes I felt a bit embarrassed at this “beater” car, but it ran and got great gas mileage (and it was better than having a car payment).
Since then, I’ve been able to upgrade to a “newer” (to me) car. (I took a loan out and paid it all off in six months.)
If I’m looking at my neighbor’s toys and things, then I’ll fall into envy and want to go out and buy something similar – whether or not I have the money to actually buy it.
Keep a budget
Yes, the “B” word.
It is much easier to accumulate debt if you don’t know how much money is coming in and going out!
If you pull out a credit card for everything and don’t track what you spend you will have a difficult time.
Time to create a budget and stick with it.
You can also just create a simple budget in a notebook or spreadsheet and start there. Take one month and track everything you spend. Even the snacks at work, the impromptu coffee shops visits, etc.
If you’ve never done this before, you will probably be very surprised at what and how you spend!
Wait 24 hours before purchases
I don’t mean wait before you purchase groceries or other necessities, but rather wait before an impulse buy – like a cute blouse or some fun makeup or a new electronic gadget.
Walk away from the store (or the Amazon shopping cart!) and give it at least 24 hours.
I’ve done this many times and most of the time I forget what it was that I desperately wanted or I’m able to talk myself out of it because after waiting a while I realize that I really don’t need it.
This can be hard when you are able to shop quickly at the click of a button online! When I feel like I really want or need something, sometimes I will add it to my cart and then leave it there a few days (until I forget about it!).
Calculate the “Cost per hour worked“
Another trick that I used to help me save money (when I was younger) was to calculate the cost of the item in terms of hours I would need to work to buy it.
For example, if I was making $10 per hour and I wanted to buy something for $400 it would take me 40 hours to make enough money to buy it (a full week of work!).
Many times I would rethink my need for that item based upon how many hours it would take me to work to get it.
(Do I really need those $100 jeans – I have to work 10 hours to buy them! Maybe the $20 pair would work…or a $5 pair from a thrift shop…)
Pay more than the minimum monthly payment on any debt
If you have any kind of debt, your statement will have your minimum payment due listed on it.
Don’t pay this – always pay more!
If you have extra money, you should add it to your debt payment. This is important for 2 reasons.
- If you pay more every month, you’ll be debt-free sooner.
- You’ll actually end up paying less money in interest.
Save money every month
And don’t touch it!
Put money aside into:
- a retirement account
- a savings account
- an emergency fund
If you have debt, you should fiercely focus on getting rid of that with as much “extra” money as you can.
If you live paycheck to paycheck and are really struggling, read some tips on how we paid off our debt by making simple changes.
After you pay off your debt, have a firm focus on building up your emergency, savings and retirement accounts.
Related: How our lifestyle changes helped us pay off debt fast
Related: Emergency Fund for Families: How & Why
Find ways to make extra money
If you have a lot of debt you might need to take on a side-hustle (second job) until it’s paid off.
Keep in mind that you won’t need to do this forever!
Make a plan to pay off your debt and stick to it until it’s done. Then, you can quit the extra job (or keep it for a while to build up your savings!).
There are a lot of ways to make a little extra cash:
- night or weekend shifts
- seasonal work (stores are always hiring extra help during the holidays!)
- sell items you don’t need
- “flip” items (pick up items for cheap at thrift shops or garage sales – or free on Craigslist! – and fix them up a bit – add a handle, tighten some screws, paint it – and then resell on sites like Craigslist, OfferUp or eBay)
- tutor someone (you DO have a skill that someone else would pay to learn)
- rent out a room
- take care of pets
- drive for Uber or Lyft
- be a Virtual Assistant
One of my friends picks up extra work by looking for odd, one-time jobs on Craigslist. One day she drove a lady to the hospital and waited until her minor eye surgery was finished and drove her home again. My friend also found a job hand addressing envelopes – she was paid by the envelope!
If you are a stay at home mom you can do several of these jobs out of your home (watching pets, babysitting, tutoring, hand-addressing envelopes!) or you can work evening or weekend shifts to pick up extra money.
Related: Easy Side-Hustles for Moms
Remember it won’t be forever, just until your debt is paid off.
Find ways to save money
Look for ways to save money every month consistently.
You can spend less by using:
- discounts and sales (on needed items, not extras!)
- buying items in bulk
- meal planning (this helps you avoid random food purchases and throwing away food that spoils before you use it)
- cutting out unnecessary extras (Do you get a Starbucks coffee several times a week? Do you like to binge shop? Do you impulse shop? Can you easily ride the bus or bike to work instead of driving – thus saving gas?)
Related: Easy Meal Planning System for Busy Families
Don’t use credit to buy items
One of the biggest habits you need to change in order to break out of debt and remain debt-free is to seriously look at your credit card use.
Do you use your credit card for “emergencies”? (That’s what an emergency fund is for! Also, you should ask yourself is this a real emergency?)
Instead, save up for larger purchases and pay cash. This will help you in 3 ways:
- You’ll appreciate the item more because you worked hard for it.
- You’ll strengthen your will and exercise self-control.
- You won’t add to your debt!
Accurately assess your needs vs. wants
Basic needs are simple. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the very basics are what all humans need: air, water, food, shelter, safety, health.
We need food, water, shelter.
A daily cup of coffee at Starbucks? Not a need. Neither is cable or Netflix.
A daily pint of Ben and Jerry’s? Nope. Not a need.
While a car might be a necessity for you to get to work, the most expensive car on the market is not a need.
Don’t cut out all of your fun!
It’s nearly impossible (and unrealistic) to cut out all “fun” spending and push every dollar towards your debt (although you’d pay it off sooner!).
When my husband and I were first married and had some credit card (and later student loan debt), we still “gave” ourselves a little spending money every month (assuming that all our necessities were paid for and we were still able to pay more than the minimum amount on our debt each month).
At that time our “fun” money budget was $40 each per month. You could do more or less.
Many months I wouldn’t spend mine and it would go in savings or be added to our debt payment. My husband often used his for impromptu business lunches or coffee with his co-workers.
Now that I’m a single mom, I still make sure to keep a little extra money to have fun once in a while. (Hey, a girl’s gotta have a gourmet coffee now and then!)
If you are really strapped for money and very deep in debt, rethink (or recreate) your fun, leisure activities.
There are so many low-cost or free options for entertainment with your family:
- borrow movies for free from the library and have a “movie night” at home with popcorn and drinks
- see a play at a local school for cheaper than a big-time theater
- look for discount coupons (through websites or Groupon, for example)
- go for a hike and bring a picnic lunch
- check out the free-day at the local museum – many offer free admission on certain days of the week. (Our library gives out free museum/zoo passes monthly – they get snatched up fast so we have to keep an eye out!)
- look for free local events and outdoor concerts (check out your local Facebook pages or community centers)
Related: Cheap and easy ways to spend quality time with your kids – ideas for single moms too!
You can change your financial future by changing your current money habits. This will take work, but you can do it! Get out of debt now so that you won’t be paying off the debt you are currently accumulating when you are older. Also, make sure to leave a good example for your kids by working hard to get out of debt and showing them how to save and change your habits. You are not too old to change! If you like this post, please share! And leave a comment below with your own tips – I’d love to hear them!