When you’re drowning in debt, all you want is relief. Being in debt is restricting and a struggle. When looking to get out of debt, sometimes the best way is to stop spending so much, and make a short term sacrifice for a long term gain.
Relief from your debt payments only comes from paying off the debt in full. To become debt free, there are really only two ways to make that happen:
- Increase your income
- Reduce your expenses
While increasing your income is arguably the fastest way to pay down debt, for some people, this may not be attainable in the short term.
If you don’t have a way of increasing your income but you’re trying to pay down debt, it’s likely you’ll have to start cutting expenses.
Cutting superfluous expenses is one of the quickest and easiest ways to save money and keep your debt from growing.
Read on to find six common things to stop buying when you’re trying to get out of debt.
6 Things to Stop Buying When Trying to Get Out of Debt
You are unique and have different interests than other people. However, there are 6 common things which different people tend to overspend on which can be examined to save money over time.
These 6 common expenses include:
Let’s dive into each of these common expenses, and give you some ideas for saving money and getting out of debt.
Unsubscribe and Save Money on Subscription Services
Subscription services are super convenient and amazing, but can put a massive drag on your debt pay off.
It seems like there are subscription services for pretty much everything nowadays. While most of these are relatively inexpensive, put together, they can add up to hundreds of dollars of expense every month.
If you have any of these subscriptions, you may be spending hundreds of extra dollars a month without even realizing it!
Here are some common subscriptions and their costs. It may surprise you how quickly they can all add up:
- Food and Alcohol
- Blue Apron – $40 a week
- Graze – $10 per snack
- First Leaf – $12 per bottle of wine
- Video Services
- Netflix – $8.99 a month
- Hulu – $5.99 a month
- Premium cable channels like HBO Now – $14.99 a month
- Razors and Beauty Products
- Dollar Shave Club – $5 a month
- Birch Box – $13 a month
- Gym Memberships
- Between $10 and $150 a month
- Investing Apps
- Most investing apps like Stash and Acorns charge a monthly fee from $1 to $5
- Video Game Subscriptions
- PlayStation Now – $8 a month
- PlayStation Plus – $5 a month
- Xbox live – $5 a month
- Xbox Game Pass – $14.99 a month
- Clothing Subscriptions
- Trunk Club – $25 per item
- Thread Beast – $55 a month
- Le Tote – $79 a month
Subscriptions are dangerous to your budget precisely because of their low cost. It’s so easy to think, “Oh, it’s just $10 a month.”
But if you do that for a dozen subscriptions, that’s over $1,000 a year.
Not only that, but tracking all of your subscriptions is a pain. They all have different membership dates, prices, packages, etc. that can make it easy to accidentally let a subscription lapse, forcing you to endure one more month of a service you don’t even want.
If you’re trying to eliminate debt as quickly as possible, you can easily save hundreds a year by canceling unnecessary subscriptions.
Eat In and Save More Money
Eliminating or cutting back on eating out is one of the easiest and most effective ways to save money.
There are for two reasons for why eating in more can save more money:
- the average American does it frequently and
- spends a lot of money on it
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spent almost $9 a day eating out in 2015.
That’s over $3,000 a year on food – and this doesn’t even take into consideration meals eaten at home, which accounted for another $4,000.
Those numbers are absurd, especially if you are trying to pay off debt.
Simply cooking your meals at home can save you nearly five times the amount of getting take-out.
According to this article from Forbes, the average take-out meal cost $20.37, while the average meal cooked at home cost just $4.31.
That’s a savings of almost 80%!
Dig in to meals at home to save money and help dig yourself out of debt.
Stop Eating Junk Food
Junk food is a waste of calories and a waste of money.
Junk food used to be called junk food because it was cheaply made, low-quality, had no nutrition and was inexpensive.
The junk food made today is still bad for you – but now it’s bad for you and expensive.
Everyone loves comfort food, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with indulging from time to time, but buying lots of prepackaged food is bad for your wallet and your waistline.
If you’re trying to save some money to put towards your debt, ditch the junk food.
Buy Generic instead of Paying Top Dollar for Name Brands
You may know that buying generic brand products over their national brand counterparts will save you money, but do you know by how much?
According to this article from Life Hacker, buying the generic store brand version of a product over the well-known brand can save you, on average, 30%.
Whether you’re talking about pantry staples like flour and noodles or sanitary products like paper towels and toilet paper, generic brand products are found to be just as good as a name brand. Many times you’re simply paying more for the name, the packaging and the licensing, rather than a better product.
In fact, did you know that many store brand products are just name brand products in a different package?
Many nationally recognized brands produce products for “private label brands” like the Kirkland Signature line of products for Costco.
You may be actually getting a name brand product for a private label price!
While the differences in buying generic may be more noticeable for some products compared to others, using store brand products can save as much as 50% – even when they’re the same basic product.
Saving with generic brands isn’t limited to food; it also works with some electronics like HDMI cables and batteries. According to this article from PC Mag, a generic $3 HDMI cable from Amazon works just as well as a $120 Monster brand HDMI cable, an immediate savings of $117.
If you’re not already shopping general brand products, doing so is a super easy way to save money without changing your buying habits.
Cigarettes and Alcohol can be Very Expensive
Nobody’s perfect, and we all have our vices, but let’s face it – some are more expensive than others.
In 2015, the average American spent $349 dollars a year on smoking products and $515 on alcohol.
That’s $864 a year. Hardly chump change.
Not only is all that smoking and drinking bad for your bank account, it can also be disastrous for your health.
Smokers frequently have significant health issues, including hypertension, heart disease, lung and throat cancer, COPD, stroke, and more. The side effects of drinking aren’t any prettier, including nerve disease, respiratory infections, liver cancer, dementia, and others.
None of these problems are easy or cheap to treat, either.
So, you effectively pay once when you light up or take a drink, then pay more in the long term when it comes to health care related to your habits.
Clearly, smoking and drinking have serious long-term implications for both your physical and financial wellbeing. Ditch ’em for the sake of your health and finances.
Vacations are Amazing, but Costly if You Aren’t Careful
Vacations provide some much needed rest and relaxation to our stressful lives.
Unfortunately, they can also be ridiculously expensive.
According to this article from Reward Expert, a four day vacation for one averages at least $442.14 in the United States, including transportation, food, entertainment and lodging.
Depending on where you live in the United States, this same trip could cost you as much as $851.21 per person. That’s almost $3,500 for a family of four, and that’s just for travel within the United States.
While everyone needs a break from time to time, if you’re trying to get out of debt, spending thousands of dollars on a vacation is only going to put you further in the hole.
If we’re not careful, the stress of paying for these vacations after can outweigh the fun we had during them.
Get Out of Debt with These Money Saving Tips!
Getting out of debt is tough, but it’s even tougher when you continue to buy stuff you don’t need. The last thing you want to do is put yourself in a spending position which makes your debt worse.
Cutting your spending on things like subscription services, eating out and junk food, buying generic over brand name products, ditching cigarettes and alcohol, and fancy vacations makes it easy to save money so that you can put it towards your debt.
Readers: are there any holes in your budget and expenses which are keeping you in debt? If you’ve paid off debt, is there anything I’ve missed here which you cut and saved money on?