Being in debt can often feel like living in an inescapable hole. Unless you’re pursuing medical or law careers or a high-paying business idea it’s often difficult to insure your earnings will match or exceed your expenses and debt. As a result, the debt isn’t paid off and the interest keeps on accumulating. The hole grows deeper and deeper.
Of course, reducing your expenses is always a prudent way to put more money toward debt payments. However, many times when people look to reduce expenses they focus on peripheral costs: forgo vacations, stop going to the movies, eschew coffee or alcohol, and/or try to spend more responsibly on their children. There is nothing wrong with making such cuts, but no expense-reduction strategy is fully effective without a concerted effort to lessen one’s core costs. Core expenses include food, shelter, and transportation – the necessities of modern life.
When I was struggling to emerge from debt, I focused primarily on cutting my core expenses and was able to pay off debt far faster as a result.
Here are the 15 main tips and techniques that I used to save money and pay off debt:
Save on Food
- Eat out only for special occasions.
- Buy store-brand products.
- Plan out all meals beforehand, and then buy only the necessary ingredients when shopping at the store.
- Eat meals high in low cost products that contain high nutritional value (rice, beans, eggs, tuna).
- Buy non-perishable items in bulk.
- Become a vegetarian.
Save on Shelter
- Install energy-efficient lights and a smart thermostat to reduce utilities costs.
- Insulate the walls and attic of your home to make it more energy-efficient.
- Take in subletters or find a roommate.
- If possible, downgrade to a cheaper home or apartment.
Save on Transportation
- Run or bike to work instead of taking the car.
- Use public transit whenever possible.
- Utilize websites like gasbuddy.com to find the lowest gas costs in your area.
- Plan out trips and errands so as to minimize the amount of driving required.
- Downgrade to a cheaper insurance plan that offers basic coverage
These are fifteen main ways I cut my core expenses while in debt. It wasn’t easy at times – many of these cuts certainly required a sacrifice on my part – but it was worthwhile in the end. If you’re looking to emerge from debt quickly, sacrifice is the quickest way to get there.
Use these tips along with other creative ideas you come up with and you’ll be able to reduce your expenses and your debt!