Avoid Boxing Week Sales and January Clear Outs!
They may sound like great deals but they are helping your credit card company far more than they are helping you. You’ve had you fun shopping away the daylight hours but now it’s time to resist spending. If this is a particularly difficult exercise, be sure to listen to your IPod or CD instead of the radio to avoid hearing about the various sales in and around town. Don’t pick up or leaf through any flyers that don’t belong to your grocery store. Finally, whatever you do, do not go into a mall or super store till you’re completely out of debt.
Use a Reward System
This may seem like I’m going to suggest a reward for yourself once you’ve saved some money, but nope. I’m treating this a little more like the reward system in place for our 5 year old son. I’ve decided to start marking off my calendar at the end of each day with either an ‘X’ through the day when I’ve managed to not spend money or writing down the amount that I’ve spent that day. Another option is to use smiley or frowning faces. This may seem childish, but it is a good way to keep track of your spending and it’s quite rewarding being able to mark a big ‘X’ on days you don’t spend. It helps with the need for immediate reward, much like it does for my son. At the end of the month you can then tally up total of non-spending days in comparison to spending days. Writing down the amount you spend will be helpful because you can also tally up how much you’ve spent that month above your budget.
Use The Right Tools
If you have the right tools, you will likely be able to save more money. There are some household tools that can help us not spend money outside the home. Here is a list of ideas of what works for us:
Tossimo vs. Timmies (Yes, I’m Canadian): One-cup coffee makers are a great tool! They offer a variety of easy to brew drinks (coffee, espresso, hot chocolate, tea, etc) in one tool. It can save you at least half the money you might spend buying out at the local coffee shop (Tim Horton’s T-Disk: 0.75 : Tim Horton’s Coffee: $1.60 / Starbuck’s T-Disk: $1.00 : Starbuck’s Coffee: $2.50)
Percolator vs. Tossimo: Let’s face it, one-cup coffee makers are great for a quick and easy fix, but they still cost more than a percolator. When you have time or company over, use a percolator. Where Tassimo’s and Keurig’s might save you half the cost of buying out, coffee at home will save you an eighth of the price – unless you’re a thoughtful person who buys Fair Trade coffee, then you might pay a few pennies more each cup, but it’s worth it to be certain people are treated well and paid fairly.
Slow Cooker vs. Restaurants: There are a million recipes for slow cookers and a million more for quick and easy recipes. You may think you’re not a good cook, but trust me some of these are fool proof. (Check out our article: ‘7 Fool Proof Recipes to Save Money)
Netflix vs. Cable: You may miss seeing the news (buy a paper or catch it online) or you may miss some sports (go to a friend’s house to watch, it’s more fun to yell at the screen with others anyways), but you’ll save bundles per month. Cable can cost anywhere from $40-$100 per month, where Netflix costs $8.99. You’ll find you have more than enough to watch (TV isn’t great for you anyways – again use some of that time to read the newspaper).
Declare it to the World
Use Facebook, announce it at family meals, yell it from the roof top - tell everybody you know that you will not be eating out, buying any toys, or hitting up the bars until your debt is paid off. It may feel a bit strange since most people don’t talk about money with others, but you are much more likely to be kept from temptation. Your friends and family will encourage you to do better and make fun of you when you screw up, perhaps you’ll even get a few free coffees from those who feel bad for you.
Go through your stuff and anything that you own that is in good condition and you haven’t touched in a year (or half a year if you’re good at purging) is going to the consignment shop, on Craigslist, or the classifieds Facebook page. Once you have cleared out space in your home be sure that you do NOT to fill it up again. Empty space can remain empty space. Put that money that you just received and put it into your savings.
Find Extra Income
My wife has picked up cleaning a house (approx. $200/month) and I have helped at my father-in-laws work (approx. $150/month) for extra income. My wife can also do hair on the side. Perhaps, you’re an artist and you can try to sell some paintings. Are you handy around the house? Maybe you can help out someone who knows someone doing renovations. You could shovel driveways or mow the lawn, make websites on the side, write for Elance, Infobarrel or oDesk.
Crunch Numbers and Trim the Fat
Look at your budget (if you don’t have one, then make one!), see the expenses that are non-essentials and reduce expenses. This could be eating out funds, entertain funds, memberships, eliminating cable or the home phone. Find ways to reduce your grocery spending (less meat intake, no pop or chips, less frozen foods, etc) Remember this isn’t forever, it’s only till you’re out of debt.