Cutting expenses to the bone is scary and overwhelming to most people. But when you’re deeply in debt and feeling lost, you begin to search for any opportunity to shorten your everyday expenses list.
While paying off debt, we cut these seven expenses and found they freed up a substantial amount of money each month. I want to show you how to drastically cut expenses without feeling deprived on a debt-free journey.
Living With Debt
Living with debt can feel exhausting at times. It can feel as though you are drowning and constantly sacrificing things you want to do and buy just to make debt payments.
Living on a budget can change the game for you. Budgeting is the one single action that can help you gain some major traction on your journey to becoming debt-free.
The Begin to Budget Bundle can help you budget, track your spending, and manage your bills so you can create a solid system to manage your finances in just a few minutes a day.
In addition to consistent monthly budgeting, another way to fast-track your debt payoff is to slash your spending.
Cutting out most non-essential spending and sticking to your budgeted amounts for each category as strictly as possible will help free up some extra money each month.
Eliminating these specific seven expenses can give you a solid boost in the amount of money you’re able to put towards your debt snowball payment each month.
Cutting Expenses to the Bone
When you are first creating your zero-based budget, you may realize the numbers are upside down. This means you don’t have enough money left at the end of the month to save, pay off debt, or even cover your basic living expenses.
I’d even bet you assumed that the only way you’d be able to make the numbers work would be by cutting expenses to the bone…and who wants to live like that? There is a better way.
Exploring a more frugal lifestyle, finding creative ways to save money in your day-to-day, and committing to making a few substantial cuts to specific expenses that feel essential (but really aren’t) can make the world of difference and probably still keep you living quite comfortably and making some major progress on paying off your debts.
7 Expenses To Cut To Get Out of Debt Fast
While there are countless ways to save money in your budget each month, these specific expenses have the opportunity to make a big impact on your bottom line.
1. Cutting Cable
You’ve heard this one before, as it’s become quite popular recently, but have you ever really considered this as an option? Take a minute to pull out your current cable bill and have a look.
Is it over $100 per month? $200? It’s also likely that it’s bundled with additional services you may or may not need driving your bill higher.
Have a quick chat with your partner, roomie, or accountability partner to discuss possible alternatives, as there are endless options these days.
Sure, we all know about Netflix, but the recent surge of people ditching their insanely high cable bills has caused some other big players to pop up. Dozens of paid and free streaming services are available.
Check out these other great options:
- Hulu Plus for current network shows, original content that definitely rivals Netflix (have you heard of the Handmaid’s Tale?), and children’s content. They also offer LIVE option where you can watch sports and a ton of network channels.
- Sling TV offers options for sports, too and many of the same networks as your cable provider. Get $20 off your first month of Sling TV here.
- Amazon also offers Prime TV included with your Amazon Prime membership. This includes a ton of free movies, TV shows, and children’s content, which is an awesome perk. Try a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime to get all the perks. Already a Prime member? Then you already have access to Amazon Video, but you can get a free 7-day trial of HBO while you’re at it.
- Amazon also has a great new program called FreeTime, where you can get thousands of kid-friendly books, apps, and videos on your Android Fire devices. You can also try it for free for 30 days.
2. Landline Phone
As mentioned above, your landline phone is likely bundled in some way with your cable or internet.
Probably the only reason you still have a landline phone is that your cable company threatens to raise your rate to an even more ridiculous amount if you break the bundle.
It’s crazy to continue to pay for something you don’t even use. Stop letting cable companies bully you into doing this.
If you actually use your home phone, then keep it if you’d like, but if you don’t use it, don’t pay for it.
Show them who’s boss. Be a rebel. Break your bundle. Cancel your cable. Cancel your landline. You will survive, I promise.
And while you’re at it, check around and try to lower that cell phone bill that probably rivals your car payment. Call your cell phone provider and ask them for a rate reduction.
Hell, threaten to move to their biggest competitor if they say no (but be prepared to really leave if they still refuse).
While it can be a pain to switch, cell phone carriers are incredibly competitive, and you will likely find an awesome deal if you do have to switch.
Plus, canceling your landline will also free up more money in your budget if you need to upgrade your cell plan in the process.
3. Getting Takeout or Eating Out at Restaurants
Frequent trips to your favorite restaurant or daily DoorDash orders will drain your budget real quick.
Dining almost exclusively at home while paying off debt will help you save a ton of money you otherwise would have thrown away at restaurants.
If you still crave that “restaurant experience,” give a meal delivery service a try.
Companies such as Blue Apron send you meal kits right to your doorstep that include a recipe/directions and all the pre-measured ingredients you need to make the meal.
They have a ton of awesome plans and meal choices, and not only is the food restaurant quality, but the convenience is a great perk.
If you dine out often only out of convenience, try dedicating a day to food prepping. Prepare a variety of proteins and vegetables ahead of time that you can throw together for various easy meals throughout the week.
4. Paying for Things You Can Do Yourself
There is absolutely nothing wrong with hiring a cleaning service or getting yourself a monthly manicure. However, if debt freedom is your goal, making temporary sacrifices will help you reach that goal more quickly.
Learning how to do your own nails, dedicating a few hours each week for everyone in the family to pitch in and clean the house, or changing the oil in your car can save you thousands of dollars over the course of the year.
5. Going Out with Friends
It’s important to maintain some degree of social life while working to pay off debt, but the markup of alcohol at bars and restaurants is out of this world.
You can literally purchase an entire bottle of liquor for the price of 2-4 drinks at a bar!?!
Why not host your pals at your place instead? Grab a few bottles of your favorite spirits and a cocktail recipe book, and you’ll be whipping up fancy cocktails for a fraction of the cost.
If house parties just aren’t your jam, there is nothing wrong with a low-key night out every once in a while if you budget for it in advance.
6. Whole Life Insurance
I’m not going to advise you in specifics on life insurance as I’m not licensed to do so. What I will say is that, first and foremost, you really need to be insured on some level.
Insurance is a personal decision, and many people have very strong feelings about it one way or another.
Cashing in our whole life insurance policies was a huge factor in us paying off our debt as quickly as we did, but it certainly was not a decision we took lightly.
It was stressed in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace course we took at the very beginning of our debt-free journey, and knowing both my husband and myself had a decent amount of cash built up in each of our policies, this caught our attention immediately.
I highly recommend speaking with an insurance professional and counseling with knowledgeable people in your life who want the best for you.
Contact an insurance broker (a broker works with multiple companies instead of just one) to be sure you are receiving competitive rate quotes.
If you decide to cancel your whole life policy in favor of term insurance (please be sure your term is effective before you cancel any insurance policies), you will have substantially lower premiums and receive your cash value back to you in a lump sum.
7. Food Budget
Aside from your housing costs, food is usually your highest monthly expense, which is why it is so easy to decrease.
With a few simple tweaks, you can drastically cut your grocery budget, even in these times of sky-high prices.
Start by tracking your food expenses. Be sure to include every time you drop by the grocery store and any food items you toss in your Target cart throughout the week.
If you’re surprised by the total at the end of your tracking period (track for a full month, if possible), then you have some room for improvement.
If tracking your expenses reveals you already have a relatively low budget, then you’re ahead of the game.
We have saved thousands of dollars a year on groceries, and you can too.
Meal planning is truly a lifesaver. Personally, I only meal plan our dinners each week, but many people find even more savings in planning three squares a day.
Download my free meal planning kit to begin planning your meals, and soon enough, you’ll be saving so much money you won’t miss those chain restaurants one bit.
Feeling too strapped for time to meal plan each week? Check out my favorite meal planning service, Eat at Home.
You get an entire month of meal plans for four different types of diets with easy-to-follow recipes, plus a full shopping list for less than the cost of one meal!
It’s easily worth at least double that cost. Check out some sample meal plans , and even if you don’t decide to continue, that still gives you a full week of meals for free.
These seven strategies can save you a ton of money, but don’t stop here. If you’re ready to maximize your savings, grab this free eBook with 55 frugal living tips.
This article was produced and syndicated by Cents + Purpose.
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Kristin Stones is the owner of Cents + Purpose, an online community dedicated to sharing practical personal finance content. Her mission is to equip women with the necessary tools and knowledge to take back control of their money and live a more purposeful life. She creates actionable content to help her audience achieve financial wellness using her simple approach to managing money - all learned through her personal experience of paying off almost $55,000 of debt in under two years.