I don’t often write about things like this. But, I’d like to share valuable life tips with you, in addition to amazing hair and skin care. Is that cool?
The reason I’m thinking about finances and debt right now is because the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is here and I would love to just go crazy. But, I’ve learned what it takes to dig ourselves out of a financial hole and I don’t want to experience it again.
So, it made me want to share our financial tips for how we got out of debt…twice.
But First, Not All Debt Is Because of Poor Spending…
Sometimes, life happens – unexpectedly – and even if you have savings, it’s not enough.
For us, one of the times we ended up in major debt was because of medical bills for our son. Even with great insurance, it didn’t cover everything. We are still so grateful we had access to amazing medical providers and it was worth every penny – but that doesn’t change the fact that we had to work hard to pay it off.
So, there’s no judgement here for why you may be in debt.
And, if you did get spend happy – don’t beat yourself up. It happens easily and fast. The longer you blame yourself, the less motivated you will be to do anything to fix it. It’s in the past. It happens.
Time to right the ship.
Here are 10 Financial Tips That Helped Us Get Out of Debt… Twice.
1. Dave Ramsey Knows His Stuff:
If you haven’t already heard of him, Dave Ramsey is a well-known financial expert who has written several bestselling books. He also has a podcast you can listen to.
While his techniques and financial advice may seem extreme, it is often what works at teaching people how to restore financial health.
Here are a couple of his books that really changed our outlook on things like emergency funds, how to budget, and ways to spend less money.
And, we really loved this one, too. We want to teach our kids these healthy financial habits, so that when they are older, it is second nature.
Core tenants to Dave Ramsey’s philosophy are:
2. Stop Buying Any Non-Essentials:
When you are in debt, his advice is to go hard-core minimalism only.
This might seem obvious – but it’s beyond what you might initially think about.
For example, you don’t buy a pack of gum or a magazine. You don’t buy anything you don’t absolutely have to buy while you are working towards being debt-free.
This is extreme, but I can tell you from our experience – if you start from a place of, “I am not spending any money unless I have to,” you will do a lot better than if you start out with the idea that you’ll give yourself a little fun money.
You may not be 100% perfect at the Dave Ramsey method – but it’s so extreme, that even if you get close you will be spending much less than normal.
It was amazing to us how much money we spent on silly things that added up over time.
Here are some things we were able to cut to reduce spending and pay off debt:
- Cancel home phone. We always used cell phones anyway.
- Cut cable. Use Hulu and Sling instead.
- Cancel all monthly subscriptions for anything unnecessary- magazines, beauty boxes, etc.
- Meal prep (see more below) to save on groceries
- Make iced coffee at home (see more below)
- Drive less when you can – gas is expensive.
- Reduce spending on gifts for others and write a sweet note instead of buying a $5 card. You can be very thoughtful and still spend less money. People will usually not even notice and still love it.
- Negotiate lower rates on whatever you can. Is there a promotion at your cell phone company? Will your credit card reduce the APR so you don’t transfer the balance? Try everything.
- Sell things you aren’t using and don’t need. If they’re in good condition, price at 50% of the price paid and work down from there.
- Borrow things you know we will only use once or twice. Or, borrow them until you can afford it.
$3 here and there becomes $100 and so on.
3. Pay Highest Interest Rate First:
We were making the horrible mistake of trying to put more than the minimum in all areas of debt.
The advice to only pay more on the highest interest rate item first changed the game. Then, once that piece of debt is paid off, you move to the next highest interest rate.
Pay minimums on everything else while you focus on the highest interest rate. This creates a debt snowball effect and you start to actually see results.
If all of your credit cards or debt has the same interest rate, focus on the smallest amount first. Then, the next smallest. The next smallest.
Seeing things actually get paid off will give you the drive you need to stay on a super tight budget for the long haul.
4. Get Side Jobs or Work From Home:
Use any extra time to make more cash – even from home. I’ve been working from home for over 6 years and just shared a post with my 9 top tips for how to work from home with small kids around. Also, I recently shared 21 sites where I find high-paying freelance writing gigs.
And, if you’ve ever considered starting a blog, here’s my free guide on how to start a money-making blog.
If you’re looking for other ways to make money on the side, there are more easy ways to do this today than ever before:
- I know someone who drives for Uber in their spare time.
- My cousin runs DoorDash a few hours a week for extra cash.
- Love pets? Walk dogs for Wag Walking and keep all tips!
- Recently, a graphic designer friend said she’s starting to teach art classes.
- I do a lot of freelance writing and offer Pinterest VA services, too. Because I work from home, we don’t need to pay for childcare.
Another friend of mine got a job at a pizza parlor after her kids were asleep for just a handful of hours a week. This added up in hundreds of dollars a month – from tips! – and they were able to get out of debt earlier than they expected.
All of these little things add up.
In my post about 14 Apps That Changed My Life – many of the apps I mention, such as Instacart and TaskRabbit are looking to hire people, just like us, who want to make some side money. Check out that post here.
And, if you’re starting a side hustle, check out my post on 5 free tools that will make your side hustle look legit.
5. Use Cash:
Another popular philosophy he teaches is his Envelope Budget. This works because you can actually see how much money is in each envelope. You are staring at the cold, hard cash that you will be spending.
It has been proven that we spend less when we have to use cash.
So, use the cash. When it’s gone, stop spending.
You can also set up a budget in a free app like Mint. I use Mint, have it on my phone, and I absolutely love the clarity it gives me on where we are at.
Let’s transition from Dave Ramsey to some other financial advice that we used to get out of debt:
6. Use a Mantra:
I believe in the power of mindset. I have seen it make a difference in my own life and people close to me.
So, a mantra is simply a phrase that is meaningful to you and you feel it helps you have clarity and focus towards a goal or purpose.
When we are digging out way out of debt, I decided to use this phrase:
Live Like The Japanese.
I had read a piece about how the Japanese are minimalists, for the most part. They buy quality and use it for years and years. They pass things down to the next generation and these items are cherished and taken care of.
My stepmom actually lived in Japan for a year and tells quite a few stories about how she learned to be frugal and take care of things until they are all used up from her experience there.
I am so grateful for what this taught me over the years, too, because when I need to crack down and I start to feel the FOMO and see all sorts of great deals and signs for sales and get Shiny Thing Syndrome, I tell myself over and over:
Live Like The Japanese.
Then, I look in my closet for something to wear rather than buy more clothes for one event.
I look for ways to make things last, rather than spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need.
7. If You Don’t Have Cash, You Can’t Afford It:
The idea here is – if you really want something, it is worth saving for.
Stop taking out loans, stop using credit cards, stop using layaways, etc. Dave Ramsey even says to never buy new cars and buy used whenever you can. Don’t upgrade your phone all the time. Use technology even when it’s not cool anymore, so long as it works and gets the job done.
When I want something, I say to myself, “Do we have the cash for this?” This means, cash leftover after bills and paying debt, saving, retirement, etc. If the answer is no – you put it back. The price doesn’t matter. If it’ll sell out – doesn’t matter. That item will never make you as happy as being out of debt sooner.
Obviously, there are times when finances are so rough, you have to put food on a credit card. These situations are different and you must feed your family, regardless.
This brings me to my next point, though:
I am always surprised how much money we can waste on food. And, when we are stressed out, we somehow waste even more money on food than usual!
So, one way we can nip this in the bud is by meal prepping our meals.
If you have the food prepared, it doesn’t matter how tired you are – just pop it in the microwave and you are all eating healthy and saving money.
If you don’t have proper containers, use what you have until you can afford some or get them on sale. OR, borrow them from someone in your life that you know doesn’t use them right now.
Here’s a post I wrote on Meal Prep Recipes that will save you money!
9. Cut The Coffee Budget:
Run your monthly spendings on Mint or another system and see how much you are spending at places like Starbucks and buying food. When we did it, our mouths DROPPED.
The $5 a day coffee habit adds up QUICK. And, if you’ve got kids getting cake pops – you can easily spend $10 or more at every visit.
I needed to figure out a more affordable way to drink coffee, guilt-free. I wrote an entire post on the easy way we make coffee at home and get it down to less than a DOLLAR A CUP! Check it out here.
If you’re not a coffee drinker, apply this to whatever item you splurge on, such as alcohol, cigarettes, a hobby, etc.
Look for ways to cut back and/or buy cheaper options.
10. Use Money Saving Apps:
There are so many great money saving apps out there that will pay you back money on purchases at the click of a button.
Then, share your Rakuten referral link with others, like I just shared mine with you, and get money back for sharing with others how to get money back. BOOM!
Rakuten isn’t the only way to do this.
Now, you’re getting close to 20% or MORE off on EVERY SINGLE PURCHASE you have to make online.
Try to buy everything online that you can, so you can get that extra savings and price check.
Here is a great article I love on the 7 Best Cash Back Apps.
It seems funny to talk about how to save on purchases after I tell you not to buy things.
But, the reality is, you will have to buy some things. Food, grooming products, other essentials.
So, save money on everything you can, stop buying whatever you absolutely do not need, and find side hustles that will pay you for time you would normally just be watching Netflix (no judgement, I love you Netflix).
Being in debt is stressful. Having a strategy in place to get out of debt and seeing results is such a huge relief.
I hope something here helps you. If you like posts like this, let me know in the comments below and I can write more on real life tips that can help.
Have a fabulous day,