I’ve been engaged in a most interesting experiment. I’ve been helping people find $200/month on paper in their budget. So far (as of the published date of this post), 100% of those I’ve talked with have found at least $200 – if not more – that can be redirected toward dumping debt faster in their monthly budget.
Yes, that’s $200 on paper, but it’s a great start.
Here are the major culprits to investigate when looking for areas to streamline.
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1. Living Expenses – especially rent. Paying for a roof is likely your biggest expense. Is your rent more than 25-30% of your monthly take-home pay? The beauty in renting is that you are more flexible and can make changes relatively quickly. No, moving is not fun. Neither is remaining in debt. Pick your poison! Are roommates an option? Responsible roommates, but think about roommates.
My aunt and uncle moved back in with my grandmother for two years and rented their home out to save money in order to invest in real estate. Everyone won’t do that – but I like that they were creative and willing to work with what they had.
2. Groceries & Dining Out. Most Americans say food is what blows their budgets. I get it. Meal planning, switching to cheaper grocery stores, and cooking meals at home are your greatest tools for managing your food budget. Shopping for groceries with cash is another really good strategy to stay within your food budget.
I’m no Chef Boyardee, but shopping at Aldi and a penchant for regular, simple meals makes it easier to develop a routine of making most of my meals at home.
If you are interested in coupons, we have a great primer for newbies: How To Get Started With Coupons.
3. Reach out and touch – for less. Have you compared your communication plans lately? As families add phone lines for younger and younger members (I heard about a 5-year-old with a cell phone recently – WTW???), cell phone plans can creep up if not careful. Because you can take your number with you, there’s no need to be loyal to any one phone company. Republic Wireless offers affordable smartphone plans beginning at $5/month.
4. Memberships & Subscriptions. Review every subscription that is attached to your bank account to make sure that 1) you are still using the service and 2) the service is something that you need to pay for right now. Up to 55% of Americans have fitness memberships and do not use them. Magazines, websites, credit monitoring…they are all fair game and should be directed to the chopping block if not absolutely necessary.
5. Sling TV. I will be honest, this suggestion came from a free consult session. I’ve never used this service before and a quick check of their Facebook page shows more than a couple unhappy customers. This might be something to put in your pocket as they work out the growing pains. However, $20/month to replace cable (plus a free 7-day trial) really caught my attention!
There are situations where you’ve cut back and you can cut back no more. If you’re here and still have no wiggle room, then an increase in income is in order. Thankfully, we living in a time where you flexible employment options are readily available from out homes. However, to avoid the plethora of scams rampant in the work-from-home arena, use trusted services such as FlexJobs.com to locate part-time, telecommute, or flexible employment opportunities for all educational and skill levels. Refer a friend – you’ll receive a free month’s credit.
$200/month or $1200/year can make a dent in your outstanding debt. Of course, this is just the starting point. If you can make small adjustments and find this much money on paper, imagine what happens when you buckle down and start attacking debt with fever.
Finding $200/month on paper is one thing. Practically redirecting those funds to impact your debt free journey is another thing entirely. If you want help finding this extra cash, sign up for a free 30-minute consultation. We’re building The Great Debt Dump accountability teams and you can get in on the ground floor. However, space is limited. There are only 8 more spots available for this round.