It’s a simple concept that is often overlooked by people who are trying to dig themselves out of debt on their own, but lowering your monthly budget means you have more money left to use to pay off that debt. The debate rages on between those who say you need to enlist a financial advisor to help you reduce your debt and those who say paying for this type of advice defeats the purpose of trying to get out of debt in the first place. Any financial guru should be smart enough to tell you to first take a look at your budget and try to find some “wiggle room” or some way to cut cost each month to begin reducing any debt that you have.
You don’t need to pay someone to tell you how to do begin reducing your debt. Simply write down all of your expenses for the month. The utility bills and such are easy since you can write them down as they arrive in the mail or when you get the notice online if you are paying these bills that way. Little things like movie rentals, coffee (or worse bottled water!) vending machine snacks and parking fees are sometimes overlooked so you’ll need to work a bit to make sure you account for these expenses as well.
Once you have written down every last expense that you have had during the month, look for things that can be lowered or eliminated altogether. If you like to joyride, or drive to the grocery store daily (or twice a day like my Brother to pick up what his wife forgot to put on the list the first time), try to “curb” the car usage, to make a pun. With the rising costs of gas these days, you may be surprised by how much you can save each month by driving less. Any money that is saved can be put toward debt reduction.
Look at every item on that list and first see if you can cross anything off. If you can, then you can use this new found money to reduce your debt. If you can’t eliminate the cost, see if maybe it can be replaced with something that costs less. If you are buying snacks every day at the vending machine, for example, picking up a box of your favorite treats from a discount warehouse or discount grocery store may save you more than you think. Replace the snack with something less expensive like bananas can mean even more money to put toward debt reduction.
Parking fees may be cut in half if you are willing to leave the car a few blocks away from the closest, more expensive parking decks, and walk a little further. I will not bring up my disdain for bottled water, but soda, sports drinks, and beverages in general are not cheap by any means and cutting back can cut your budget and provide more money for debt reduction. You can try purchasing the mix for the drink and mixing them yourself to save a little more. If you do buy bottled water, get a filtered pitcher and a sports bottle and you will save a good deal of money each month. All these little steps can produce extra money that then can help you eliminate the debt you have.
The grocery budget is another important area to work on because it is normally among your highest monthly expenses. Again, the more your can reduce your current budget, the more you can put toward reducing your debt. The easiest way to slash the food budget is to have a few set “menu items” for each type of meat. Then when chicken is on sale you can make two or three dishes, and when beef goes on sale, you can do the same. That way you can buy whichever meat has the best deal and cover a few meals at a time.
It is hard to pay off debt if you are eating fillet mignon every night. Remember that every dollar that you stop paying out is another buck that you can use to pay off your debt.
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