This past Tuesday I got into a discussion/argument with a friend of mine about him being enslaved by his job and how he was trapped. Eventually he admitted that he had made choices and accumulated debt which disallowed him the freedom to switch jobs. How many can identify with that? I’m guessing a lot. So I decided to develop a list of the top things I see people waste money on that should and could be used to pay off debt and provide financial freedom.
I frequently refer to credit card debt as almost everyone can relate. My thoughts are to sacrifice for a period of time, make spending cuts, apply the net money from said cuts to your smallest credit card debt and pay off card #1 quickly. Next, apply spending cuts plus credit card #1 monthly payment to credit card #2 until it is paid off. Rinse and repeat. I personally know 2 friends that paid off $12,000 in credit card debt in under 2 years using this method. They have not touched a card since and talk often of the freedom they enjoy. In my opinion debt is the number 1 dream killing machine, followed closely by poor health habits. Anywho, here’s my list of things to eliminate immediately:
1. Pay television, cable, satellite, internet based. The average pay television bill in the U.S. is $123!! And most shows can be streamed for free! I watch Walking Dead, Better Call Saul and Person of Interest free every week. Plus there are better things to do with your time. Just sayin. Estimated savings per month (ESPM)… $123
2. Shopping at premier stores. Swallow your pride and start bargain hunting! Marshall’s, TJ Max and even thrift stores are great ways to get what you need at a fraction of the cost. ESPM…$100
3. Stop smoking and drinking. Not only is this good for your budget your lungs and liver will both thank you via email! ESPM…$150
4. Eliminate eating out. Look at eating out as a luxury, one that you can no longer afford! For special occassions find a nice, inexpensive spot to dine. My wife and I found a great Chinese restaurant that we can both eat for under $20. ESPM…$100
5. Elaborate entertainment. If you have credit card debt I can safely surmise that a large percentage of the balance is due to entertainment you could not afford in the first place. Get creative when planning family entertainment: go to the park, rent a DVD from RedBox and have family movie night, attend a free music fest. Entertainment does not have to be a $100+ night at the theater. ESPM… $200
6. Starbucks or coffee house. This is a personal peeve of mine as I know lots of folk that have a $70+ coffee habit each month. Buy a good $9 bag of coffee and brew at home. ESPM… $50
7. Memberships. Gyms are the worst investment known to every financial counselor I spoke to. Every one of them had this at the top of their lists. Buy your own weights, run outside and stop wasting $75 each month. ESPM… $75
8. Magazine subscriptions. No explanation needed. ESPM… $20
9. Car payments. If you have more than 1 car payment, you are handling your money foolishly. Automobiles depreciate. One financial advisor said to me, “finance assets that appreciate, but never finance assets that depreciate.” Rework your current auto situation and eliminate 1 or more car payments!
10. Name brand groceries. I shop at Aldi and love it. My wife is amazed at what we get for the money. ESPM… $200
11. Misc frivolous waste. Most people have a couple hundred dollars each month that simply vanishes. Well, find it! Keep all your receipts for a month and identify any holes in your ship. ESPM… $150
These examples represent an Estimated Savings Per Month of $1520!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IMAGINE PAYING THAT EACH MONTH ON YOUR LOWEST CREDIT CARD BALANCE! Even if you do not eliminate a car payment the savings are still $1170! I estimate the average household could easily find an extra $500 each month to pay extra on credit card debt, if they are willing to sacrifice. Other ways to help: extra part-time work like cutting lawns, monthly yard sales, programmable thermostats, move to less expensive housing. Think outside the box.
The sacrifices needed to become debt free are tough, but you owe it to yourself to take action. Teach yourself, teach your kids, teach your friends how to change their life and obtain freedom. Those that I know sat the entire family down and explained the problem, explained the course of action and explained what each member needed to do to help. And they succeeded!
I always say, “Do something today that your future self will thank you for doing.” This is one of those things.
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Debt freedom allows one to……Dream Big, Dream Often.
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