Money 101

If you are in debt and struggling, you are not alone. However, there is hope. The most effective thing you can do is stop spending money. STOP. SPENDING. TODAY. No more shopping. No more Starbucks. No more shoes. Live like you may never receive another paycheck. Be stingy with your money. Pay your rent or mortgage, your utility bills, and those monthly bills you can’t avoid – think food and shelter, you probably have enough clothing. Then, take a good look at all the places your money goes. Not sure where it goes? Start paying attention.

Do you want to get out of debt or not? This is what you should ask yourself each time you get ready to spend money. Can you eliminate some bills? Here are some expenses to consider.

TV streaming services.  Do you really need these? If you want to get extreme, you could get rid of all of them. Or maybe you could get by with one or two.

Internet and phone service. Don’t panic, I’m not suggesting you eliminate these. However, you likely don’t need the fastest Internet service, the latest iPhone, or the biggest plan offered, right? See if you can reduce these expenses.

Subscriptions. Do you automatically pay for monthly subscriptions? Whether they come out of your bank account or charge your credit card, you are still paying for them. This includes things like magazines, gift boxes, jelly/book/tie/whatever-of-the-month-club, gym memberships, Amazon (you need to stop shopping anyway), apps and access to exclusive online content. They aren’t absolutely necessary, cancel them. NOW.

Services. Do you pay other people to do things that you could do yourself? Like cleaning your house, mowing your yard, painting your nails, laundry, washing your car, walking your dog, etc. STOP! Take the time and effort to do these things for yourself and save the money.

Stuff. You know, those little things you see and just buy – like craft supplies, trinkets, clothing, books, makeup, tools, etc. You can do without all of these, expecially when you are trying to reduce expenses.

Gifts. Gifts are important, but be reasonable. Try to be creative and come up with something unique, homemade, or sentimental. It doesn’t need to be expensive. Set a limit to spend on gifts, a REASONABLE limit, like $25. It really is the thought that counts. Another way to cut back in this area is to limit the people you give gifts to. You don’t really need to give gifts to your second cousin’s best friend. Seriously, limit your gifts to immediate family and give a heartfelt greeting to the rest. I know this is hard, especially during the holidays. Set yourself a stern limit for the entire holiday season, and stick to it! By stern, I mean $500 or less. Really. Do you want to get out of debt or not?

Eating out. Do NOT go through a drive though! Do NOT order delivery! Don’t spend your hard earned cash for ridiculous delivery fees or subscriptions for food delivery (UberEats, GrubHub, etc.) Go to the grocery store and buy real FOOD. Not processed and frozen junk, but real food. The more processed the food is, the higher the cost. Just look at the cost of Twinkies versus apples … see what I mean? Eat the apples, they are much better for you. 🙂 Learn to prepare simple meals to feed yourself and your family. See very easy simple meals here. You will save a huge amount of money by preparing and eating your meals at home.

Coffee. Yes, I’m talking about Starbucks, etc. here . . . If you can’t survive without fancy coffee, get a basic model Keurig and buy pods. You can get the best flavored coffee pods at ALDI’s. Seriously. I’ve tried every French Vanilla out there and ALDI’s tastes the best. You can get 12 pods for less than $3 a box. If you are just looking for a caffeine fix, ground coffee and a good old coffee pot are the way to go.

Credit cards and loans. Pay your credit cards and loans on time every month to help your credit rating and avoid late fees. Don’t get any new credit cards or loans. Pay off the smallest balance first and close the account so you won’t be tempted in the future. Pay the minimum due on everything else until you pay off the smallest credit card/loan completely. Then, add the amount you were paying along with the minimum payment to the next smallest credit card/loan balance until you have them all paid off. Pay off the store cards and close the accounts. You only need one (1) Visa or MasterCard for travel reservations and unique events.

Find your local dollar store and discount grocery store, look for Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Aldi’s, RulerFoods, those kinds of stores. Stay out of the big box stores that are filled with tempting things you don’t need.

Live within your means. Tithe 10% of your paycheck, save 10% of your paycheck, and live on the rest. Build yourself a savings cushion so you can pay your bills if you lose your income.

Speaking of income, consider your employment. If you only work part-time, ask for more hours or look for a full-time job. Pick up a second job or side hustle. Don’t pay for a job of any kind. Some scammers out there will give you all the ‘secrets’ to making easy money for only $79.95 or whatever. The secret is . . . get a real job. Go to work.

Another way to increase your income is to sell your exess stuff. Try eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, consignment shops, flea markets, or anywhere else you trust. You’ll feel better with less clutter and you can make a little of your money back in the process.

Pay off debt, don’t be a slave to it – Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”