I often get asked, what are the best tips you can give me to get out of debt? My go to answer in the past would have been to pay off the debt as quickly as possible and not accumulate it any more debt. While I don’t necessarily disagree with that advice, I’ve come to realize there is more to the story we need to consider.
My first question would be “How do you feel about that debt?”. If your only debt is a home that you absolutely love and you are making extra payments on it to get it paid off quickly, I’d give you an internet high five and say you are on the right track. Or if your debt is a modest car loan that gets you to and from your dream job so you are able to pay your bills and work towards your personal goals, again I’d say great work! Do what you can to get your debt paid off as fast as you can, but don’t feel bad about using debt in a reasonable way to go after what makes you happy.
However, if your debt brings up a lot of guilt, shame & fear because you feel like you have too much of it (since you bought things you didn’t really need and later didn’t end up wanting) and your worried how you are going to pay that debt off, I’d say it’s time to take a look at your behavior and begin making changes to the way you do things.
My first piece of advice would be to stop accumulating debt that you don’t feel good about. Stop buying things you don’t need, create a budget to direct where your money will go each month and get to work doing what you can to pay off your debt quickly. This may mean selling things, taking on extra jobs or whatever creative ides you can come up with to get yourself to a better place as fast as possible (I’ve included a long list of ideas below).
While most of us don’t want to carry or accumulate any debt, we also don’t want to work for 30-40 years and deprive ourselves of everything. Sometimes it’s necessary to go into debt in order to move to the next steps in life. Sometimes it’s necessary to cut back and get rid of the debt we’ve accumulated for the wrong reasons. There is a fine balance between the two and your mission is to find that balance that works best for you. This definitely won’t be the same for everyone!
Does this sound like you?
- You are the friend who orders water when you go for a night out with your girlfriends because you can’t afford the cost of a drink? Or maybe you are the one who can never enjoy a nice dinner out once in a while because you don’t have the funds. So you eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before heading out the door. Because hey, it’s food right?
- You obsess about your finances?
- Compare yourself to your friends or co-workers and think “I should be where they are!?”
- Do you pay off debts only to have them come back again?
- Are you waiting for a man to come into your life and make you financially safe and secure? (I hope not).
If you are in a place where you are feeling guilty about your debt, or recognize any of the behaviors above, then this page is for you. I’m going to walk you through some steps to help you move past the guilt and into an actionable place so you can turn your financial situation around.
Scroll down for a complete list of The Jenny Pincher’s Money Making & Saving Tips
Worrying won’t give us the tools or new thought processes we need to change our habits and behaviors about money. It just keeps us trapped in the old ones because they are familiar and comfortable. In order to get out of this debt cycle and fear of money we have to first change the way we approach money and how we think about it.
Money is a tool.
That’s really it. It’s a tool that we use in our lifetime and we can make it hard or easy. If this has been hard for you, keep reading. I’m going to give you some times to make this a little easier.
Determine Where You Are Today
When you have no debt, you can start using that money towards building wealth for yourself. But how do you do it? Where do you start?
There is so information is out there but it’s hard to know where to begin. Trust me, I know because I’ve been there! We have to know where we’ve come from before we can decide where we we want to go. Let’s start by making this simple.
Where are you now with your finances? If you’re not sure how to get started, I suggest using Personal Capital to get a holistic view of your financial picture. It’s free and easy to use. It can be accessed via your desktop, tablet or mobile device and will provide insight into where you are spending today and where you might be able to cut back.
It’s important to get a handle on where you are TODAY so you can start digging your way out of debt. Why? Because this is the foundation for moving you forward. Have you really thought about what your life will like by the time you are ready to retire? I was shocked to learn that after 40 years of working, most people find themselves struggling financially. After 40 YEARS Ladies!!! According to the US Census, after working for 40 years:
- 63% of people are financially dependent on their families or Social Security
- 29% of people are unable to make ends meet
- Only 4% of people have enough in savings to support themselves
- 3% of people are still working a job (This number continues to grow)
- Only 1% of people are able to retire comfortably.
Create a Spending Plan
To avoid becoming one of the people I’ve mentioned in the statistics, we must figure out where we are today by getting a handle on your income, your expenses and your debt.To get started doing this, take a look at this blog post Budgets for Dummies, Creating a Household Budget in 5 Easy Steps. This will get you moving in the right direction.
If this whole concept is new to you, here are a few of my podcasts that will help you out:
Do you want to be one of those people I mentioned above, you know the statistic? I doubt you do. Once you know where you are today, you can start taking the appropriate steps to build your spending plan and pay off debt so you can start building wealth.
Creating a Spending Plan can sound overwhelming, but it’s really not. Let’s break it down to one basic idea.
Spend less than you earn.
That’s really it! If you can do that each month, you will be able to reach your financial goals monthly after month. Think of your budget as the roadmap that will help you get there.
If you need help with creating a budget, I have an ebook that will help you with this. You can also get more in-depth help with my 16 week Budget Bootcamp. Or Enter your name and email address to the right to get my 7 Day Budget Program to help you get started.
If you are reading this blog I know you are a smart girl and you want to make changes in your life. Your assignment is to keep moving forward, even on those days you want to quit.
The main thing is DO NOT GIVE UP!
Determine What You Can Cut Out or Bring In extra Income
If you’ve created a budget and it’s not where you want it to be, cutting back on expenses and/or bringing in extra income are the quickest ways to get your self back on track. This is a list of some things I have done in the past that have worked for me. I know these tips aren’t going to work for each and every one of you, that’s why I’ve listed a variety different options. I hope you will find at least one tip here that you can use to save yourself some money.
Use Tools to Quickly Pay Down Debt
I already mentioned Personal Capital as a way to track your spending. If you want an easy way to start paying off your debt, give Qoins a try. Qoins will round up your purchases to the next dollar and pay off your debt, fast. Once you link your account(s), you simply make purchases as you normally would. Qoins willl withdraw your “spare change” throughout the month.Watch your debt disappear as they automatically make an extra payment for you each month. Payments go out each month by the 15th, consisting of the previous month’s spare change. There is a $1.99 fee taken each month out of your spare change, however the savings in interest reduction can easily offset this fee. Read more about how the company works here.
The Jenny Pincher’s Money Making & Saving Tips
1. Blogging – This is one of the first questions I always get asked so I’m including this one first. How can I earn extra income with a blog? As you can probably imagine, that isn’t a question I can answer in just a few sentences! One of the ways to earn extra income through a blog is from affiliate marketing. This can be a tricky topic if you don’t know what you are doing. A fellow personal finance blogger has put together a course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing that will teach you how to earn extra income from affiliate marketing. Michelle teaches you the exact steps she has taken to earn $100,000/mo (yes per month) from her blog. I have went through this course myself and loved it, I highly recommend it!
2. Consolidate when it makes sense – I’m not always a big fan of consolidating loans but sometimes it can take the pressure off you when you have a lot of payments. (Of course – the trick to that is to stop the behavior that caused you to get all the payments in the first place!) If you are looking to consolidate your debt, I recommend Lending Club. Lending Club is a peer-to-peer lender which means you are able to bypass a traditional bank and get connected with investors who fund your loan and earn monthly returns. Normal credit checks still apply and Lending Club offers unsecured personal loans of up to $35,000 to borrowers with good-to-excellent credit at very competitive rates. I have used Lending Club twice for loans and have been happy with the products and services both times. I highly recommend Lending Club if you are looking for an alternative to a traditional bank.
3. Cut the Cable – Years ago I decided to get rid of cable and was able to stream content through my Roku device. I still love my Roku as an alternative to cable and highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in saving money. I wrote a detailed guide on how to get rid of cable and use a Roku device. In addition to my Roku device (where I stream Netflix & Amazon Prime) I also purchased a $6 antenna to watch local channels live. It’s a great set up and has saved me over $1,200 a year!
4. Inexpensive Fun – Looking for a night out but don’t want to spend a lot of money? Yelp Deals, Living Social & Groupon all offer inexpensive ways to go out and have fun without spending a lot of money.
5. Bring in More Money – In some instances, you may not be able to cut back anymore so in addition to cutting back, earning extra income can help you to bridge the gap in your income. Sites like Flexjobs and Moonlighting let you earn extra or full time income from home. I particularly like Flexjobs (more detail in my Flexjobs review) and have used their services in the past when I was looking for a IT Consulting job where I could work from home. The service is exactly as described as they are able to aggregate legitimate work from home professional positions in one place. You can even set up alerts to be notified when positions you are interested in become available.
6. Land line- If you still have a land line phone, my first question is why, and my second question is do you use it? Cancel it! If you do use it and you have features ‘bundled’ together? do you use them? It might be cheaper to remove some features you don’t use.
7. Haircuts – Do you have a beauty school in your area? Beauty schools are a great way to get haircuts, colors, manicures, pedicures and facials at a reduced price. You get a reduced price ass students are learning how to perform these services. Beauty schools in my area charged anywhere from $10-$15 for a haircut (which beats $50+ that some salons charge. If you are a little worried about going to go to a beauty school, read my beauty school tips article and listen to the secret weapon to staying beautiful and paying less.
8. Home & Auto Insurance – Have you shopped rates lately? Looked at your current coverage? Doesn’t hurt to call around and ask! Just don’t sacrifice coverage to save yourself a few bucks.
9. Limit eating out – Cook from scratch and eat meals at home. You can check out some of my recipes and listen to how I got my grocery bill to $100 a month to get some more tips. I also wrote a detailed post on how to cook once and eat all week.
10. Take Your Lunch – We’ve all heard this one before but it really is true. Making your own food will save you a lot of money. When you make meals at home, make extra to take to work the next day. It saves money and is faster than having to run through a drive through the next day.
11. Coupons (when it makes sense) –I honestly hardly ever use coupons anymore. I don’t find the savings vs. the time it takes to actually find, cut & print the coupons (not to mention the cost of printing, printer ink and buying papers to get coupons) to be worth it for me. Instead, I do nearly all of my grocery shopping at Aldi where I know they will have the lowest price. I tend to cook a lot at home with my Instant Pot and try to make as much food as I can from scratch. (I have a ton of recipes posted on Pinterest and my Instant Pot board is pretty popular). I utilize dollar stores as much as possible to buy other things inexpensively. I will from time to time use department store coupons (like Kohl’s or Macy’s) if I know I am going to need something and I’m sure I’ll use it. That’s another thing I’ve found with coupons, I was buying things I didn’t want or need and so I just stopped doing it.
12. Utilities – Does your electric company offer budget billing? Why not give it a shot? Budget billing (as it’s called in my area) allows you to pay an average of your utilities each month so you don’t experience high utility bills during the peak season. This allows you to estimate the same amount each month. Disclaimer: If you your average amount is too low, you will have to pay the difference. If the average you pay is too high, you will get a credit. It’s important to monitor this each month so you don’t get a big surprise.
13. Get Rid of Your Junk (and stop buying more) – Facebook Marketplace, Offer Up or Craigslist are all ways to quickly unload unwanted items. I recently sold $250 worth of things on Facebook in 24 hours! I helped my dad sell his 4-wheeler for $1,000 and helped my mom sell her couch and chair quickly for $100. I wrote about this in detail in this post. Be sure to use common sense and keep yourself safe when selling online. For example, I never have people come to my house, I always meet them in a common area (like a busy store parking lot).
14. Yard sale – If it works in your area, you can also have a yard sale, Yes they are a lot of work but you get rid of your junk and make a little extra cash. Consider having one with other neighbors to attract more people.
15. Rent movies – With all the streaming that is available right now, this one might seem outdated. But if you are not able to stream content at home, rent at Redbox instead of going to the movies. Just be sure to return them on time to avoid a fee.
16. Grocery Shopping – Shop at the grocery store once a week instead of running in when you need one thing. When I went more than once a week, I would always walk out with much more than I anticipated on buying. You will too! Plan ahead and shop for what you need once a week.
17. Daily Spending – Watch how you spend your money every day. Cut out daily trips to the gas station/vending machine etc.. Its the little things, when added up, that make the biggest impact on your spending plan. Don’t believe me? Count how many times you say “it’s only” when you spend money. Then see my article “Two Words That Can Cause The Most Damage To Your Budget – It’s Only..” (Side note: If you want a painless way to invest, use an app like Acorns to round up your daily spending & invest it!)
18. Carpool – Going the same general direction as your neighbor or a friend? Try carpooling, even a couple of days a week can make a difference.
19. Memberships – Do you have gym memberships or other miscellaneous memberships? And if you do, do you use them? If not, cancel them immediately so you stop wasting money on something you are no longer using.
20. Negotiate rates – Call your credit card companies & ask to get your interest rates reduced. If they don’t oblige, threaten to go to the competition and then see what they can do for you.The worst they can do is say no.
21. Swap Clothes – Have a clothing swap with friends. Trading clothes with friends can be just like getting a new wardrobe! Assuming your friends are the same size as you of course.
22. Dinner Club – In addition to swapping clothes with friends, what about swapping food? This is where everyone brings something and then you can ‘swap’ and take leftovers home. My friends and I used to do this and it was a lot of fun and a good way to get everyone together.
23. Focus Groups – If you would like to participate in live focus groups, I suggest doing a search online in your area to see what companies are available. In St. Louis, we have the following companies available: Peters Marketing Research, Focus Point Global, L&E Research. In addition, we also have a few medical research facilities in St. Louis at local universities. Check in your area to see if there are marketing agencies that conduct focus groups- they pay cash! When I was laid off, I made a boatload of cash doing these. Read more about how to make extra money with focus groups here.
24. Start a Side Gig – Do you have a hobby you enjoy? Have you ever thought of making income from it? The opportunities for having a side gig (something you work on in your free time) and earning income are endless these days! I wrote an article on how I’m earning multiple streams of income. What do you enjoy doing that can help you bring in extra income?
25. Cell phone – change your plan, remove unused lines or ask for a corporate discount. Don’t work at a corporation? Sprint gives a discount for being a credit union member. I personally like Sprint because of the unlimited data, but you may not need that. If not, try Republic Wireless. I know a lot of people who use Republic Wireless and are really happy with the service and the low prices! If your not familiar with the company, Republic Wireless is an innovative new mobile provider, spearheading a wireless freedom movement to return value and control of the smartphone experience to its members. Leveraging the power of the Internet and an engaged community of users, Republic Wireless offers unlimited talk, text, & data starting as low as $5 per month, with no contract required.
26. Survey Sites – Depending on the survey site, you can get paid cash and or have the opportunity to try free products. I have done many of these over the years and always enjoyed earning the extra money. I’ve also been able to try new beauty products, food items and many other things I wouldn’t normally try, for free! Note: you should never pay for information for these types of sites.There are tons of survey sites out there, here are few trusted ones that I recommend: American Consumer Opinion Panel, InboxDollars , Swagbucks (be sure to read the full write up I did about Swagbucks in Part 2), Harris Poll, Epoll Market Research, VIP Voice, Your Surveys, Nielsen Digital Voice, Product Report Card, Earning Station, Vindale Research, Panda Research, 20/20 Panel, Nice Quest, Shop Tracker, Survey Voices, Survey Club,Survey Queen, Cash Crate, Pinecone Research (one of my favs, I’ve gotten to try a lot of free products through them). Read more about how to make extra money with surveys here.
27. Ebates – Using Ebates can help you earn cash back. By shopping through Ebates at your favorite stores, you earn cash back on your purchases. I wrote a detailed post on how Ebates will pay you via check or Paypal. Check it out, it’s a great way to earn extra money for things you are already buying (just make sure you really need what you are buying!).
28. Rent out Your Space – Have an extra room to rent out & want to earn some extra cash? Sites like Homestay.com connect guests to local hosts in over 150 countries. Hosts offer their guests the chance to live and breathe the local culture, to make friends as well as memories and to explore destinations in a truly authentic way. Homestay hosts can enjoy the fulfillment of being a part of their guest’s new adventures and make some money by renting out their extra space! Airbnb is another great site to use to find places to stay or rent your space out. If you use this link to sign up, we both get a $35 travel credit! And, you can earn another $75 in travel credit when you welcome your first guest! I’ve explained how this works more in this making extra money post.
29. Save Money on Shaving – Shaving is a fact of life and unfortunately buying expensive shaving cream and razors can add up and quick. Years ago I read a tip to use conditioner in the place of shaving cream. I’ve been doing that for many years and it is amazing. I buy a bottle of conditioner from the dollar store and I’m set with shaving cream for quite awhile! Additionally, I discovered a site called Dorco to order razors in bulk at an extremely discounted price. I love this site and use them anytime I need to buy razors. They have mens and women’s razors & razor sets and you can’t beat the price & the quality! Try the Dorco Frugal Gal’s pack and let me know what you think!
30. Use Zaycon Foods to Buy Meat – If you’ve never heard of Zaycon Foods, let me tell you about this amazing company. I’ve been using them for the past 4 years to buy my meat in bulk and purchasing this way is a great way to save! The owners of this company have taken the middle man out of the meat buying process and getting food from the farm right to consumers like you and me. They’ve been around since 2009 and the service has been so popular, it’s grown tremendously over the past few years. The way it works is you go online, set up an account, place your order and on the day of your Zaycon sales event, you drive to the location and pick up your food. It’s simple and easy!
I’ve put together a list of money saving resources for you so you can have everything I recommend in one place. This list contains links to money saving sites for travel, hotels, investing, loans, wireless plans and even online dating!
In addition, here are some of my articles that will help you with budgeting:
To get something we’ve never had before we have to do something different. And in order to get ahead with your finances and actually make lasting change, you are going to have to do something different. I’m guessing that is why you are here, right? To find out something new? That might mean sacrificing a few things in the short term so you can get different results in the long term.
The bottom line is we get the results, the income, the job, the debt and the life we think we deserve. Are you happy with yours?
Disclosure: This page includes affiliate links.