When you make the decision to get out of debt, the process can be akin to losing weight or shedding any other bad habit you have picked up and adapted for any length of time. Success doesn’t come easy, but the basic concepts are somewhat simple. For the most part, if you eat fewer calories than you expend, the result is weight loss. Debt works the same way. If you spend less than you make, you have the potential to lose your debt by using the surplus funds to pay it off. However, this habit takes some overhauling to achieve on a consistent basis. With consistency and commitment, you can chip away at and eliminate your debt. Here are some tips for consideration when looking to make the lifestyle changes necessary to lose the debt for good!
Learn to be grateful for what you have and appreciate what has gone right. While it can be challenging, also try to work on being grateful for the hard lessons learned. Without the pain or frustration of past or current circumstances, you probably wouldn’t have come to the decision to make changes to your debt in the first place. Use these lessons to fuel your desire and motivation and really lean into gratitude to help in your debt journey.
Just to be clear, being content does not equate to having zero goals or ambitions. Being content is simply being happy and at peace with what you have at the moment. It really has more to do with gratitude and even delayed gratification than with playing it too “safe” or “small.” Learn to be happy with what you already have without needing to go out and buy things to fill a void or replace your happiness. Just like emotional overeating, many people spend money to make themselves feel better, but the end result of these types of purchases does more harm than good. Learn to repurpose what you already have to fill a physical need. Get creative. Don’t worry about what you want, just appreciate and enjoy what you already have and you will find yourself needing less “stuff” to be happy.
3. Reuse, Recycle, Reduce
Repurpose items you have in the house for other uses. Need or want something? Check out DIY videos and find materials laying around the house and garage- these items will usually have more character anyway. Also, learn to use less of an item or portion more appropriately- and use every last drop. Not only will you save money, but you will save resources- better for your wallet and the planet.
4. DIY Options
Look for natural and DIY options for items you use regularly that really add up. For example, using a foaming hand soap pump I saved from a soap bottle I bought previously, I made my own hand soap using a couple of tablespoons of liquid castile soap (that I snagged on sale) and distilled water. For natural, gentle (and a wonderfully foamy) handsoap, I spent about ten cents vs. $4 or more at the grocery store. Small changes will add up over time without being an inconvenience.
5. Use coupons and apps
When you plan your meals for the week (another great time and money saving tip in and of itself), find coupons on store-specific apps, in newspapers, and on apps like Ibotta. Sub produce and meat that is on sale in recipes for extra savings.
6. Make purchases with longevity in mind
Timeless or well-used items can be bought with quality and longevity in mind. Take care of your purchases and buy quality for items you plan to keep around. You will spend less over time in replacement or repair costs.7. Look for opportunities to bring in more income. The more you make (while keeping spending the same or lower), the more you can apply to debt, making payoff faster and more effective. As your habits and behaviors change, so does your mindset. As you continue in your debt payoff journey, you will discover what works (and doesn’t work) for you. Make it a habit to be honest with yourself, keep your goals and motivations front and center, and accept that with these lifestyle changes will come big rewards- both financially and in other aspects of life as well.