You’ve heard the saying, “A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned!” Not too many people believe that these days. A penny does not seem to get anyone too far. Well, I’m a firm believer in that saying! Not too long ago, about 3 years I guess, I was in credit card debt that would make anyone’s head spin! No matter how many raises I got, I still was not able to save any money and get ahead. So I started with baby steps. I started cutting corners here and there, putting any money aside and paying off debt. It did not matter how small the amount, and within a couple of years I was free of credit card debt. About $19,000 worth to be exact! Not a small feat! Yes, I made some sacrifices, but the more I paid off and saved, the more I wanted to reach my goal of paying off that debt!
I am going to share some of the things that I started out doing with you. Some of these things most people would say do not really matter, because they are not really large savings at a time. But I will tell you, I started seeing results right away, there was more money in my pocket, and I used that money to pay down that debt I had. I hope that some of these things will encourage you to start paying off debt and saving for a goal that you have.
Here is what I did to jumpstart my debt payoff:
1. I made my own laundry detergent. I wrote about this in a previous post in October 2008. This is a powdered detergent, and it works great! It is a lot less expensive to make, and environmentally safe as well.
2. Start taking your lunch to work instead of eating out. I only ate out once or twice a week, but at about $10 a lunch, that is $40 – $80 a month. It adds up! And I tend to eat healthier when I take my food as well. I know what is in the food I’m eating and how it is prepared.
3. Start cooking at home rather than picking up take out for dinner. Again, refer to #2. There is great satisfaction in preparing food for the family and having a family dinner. I know it is hard when the kids have functions, or the spouse has to work overtime, etc. (See my next suggestion for help with this.)
4. If you have limited freezer space, buy a freezer! Depending upon the part of the country you live in, you may be able to get one for free! Check online at Craig’s list or Free Cycle. I had my husband buy me a small chest freezer for a birthday present. This makes it easy for me to stock up on sales at the grocery store, and (this refers back to #3) I can make meals ahead when I have a little more time, and freeze them for dinners during the week! Another food tip, when you are cooking for one meal, make enough for two, and freeze it for another day.
5. Use up your leftovers! Food is very expensive, and throwing it away is not going to help with the budget. Use the leftovers for your lunches you take to work, or put leftovers into the freezer for another time if you don’t want to eat it again. Or remake those leftovers into a different dish.
6. Entertain yourselves at home. Have a movie night with the family, make popcorn or some other treat, and rent a couple of movies. Have potluck dinners with the neighbors, or have movie night or game nights with them!
7. Clean out your closets! Most people have a lot of clutter that does not fit into their houses. And clothes in the closet that they don’t even wear. Take some of those clothes to a consignment store and sell them. Or have a garage sale and clean out the whole house!
8. I love books, so I cleaned out the ones that I don’t use and sold them on Amazon. I brought in enough money to purchase others (on Amazon) that I do use!
9. I go to the thrift store first, when I am looking for an item. I have found fabric and sewing notions, picture frames, a great table for my sewing machine, canning jars, some great clothes and many other items, at a fraction of the price I would have paid at the mall or other department stores.
10. Shop using coupons and sales flyers. Yes, coupons can save you a lot of money, but don’t purchase something just because you have a coupon! There are some good blogs that track coupons and sales. See my sidebar for some links to some moms that keep a close eye on sales and coupons for you!
These are the top ten things that I started doing, and it works! Of course there are tons of other things that you can do. But if you just dive in, you may feel you are depriving yourself of things. It’s like going on a diet! It sounds good when you start out, but will you last? Start with baby steps.