I’ve recently shared that I’ve been on my Debt Free Journey for a year now. I plan to share exactly how much debt I’ve managed to eliminate within this year in a later post. Now, however, I’m addressing what got me into debt and what exactly I’ve done to get out of debt. My first step was to stop spending too much money NOW.
By now you should know the key to getting out of debt is to earn more and spend less! While I definitely don’t consider myself an expert at earning more and spending less, I do think that the things I’ve done to stop spending too much are achievable and can be helpful to someone.
What I did to stop spending too much money
1. Track and Analyze my Spending
On a monthly basis, I review my bank statements. I categorize my spending into gas, fast food, groceries, clothing, and bills and totaled my spending in those areas. An additional category is miscellaneous which is where I payed close attention to see where exactly where I could cut cost. I was able to realize just how much “little things” added up such as vending machine trips, candy and sodas from the gas station and random trips from the grocery store, Dollar General, and Target. Afterwards, I would attempt to decrease spending in all areas by at least 10 percent.
2. Avoid triggers
If you follow me on Instagram, then you’re aware of how tempted I was by Target. I would take random trips to Target, browse every isle, and spend hundreds of dollars on things I did not need, and some I did. After maxing out my card, I did the same to my Mister’s card until we had TWO maxed out cards for one household. Shortly after, I decided to begin my debt free journey.
To avoid behaviors that placed me back in debt, I removed my Target from my pocket book and had my mister place at the top of my closet in a pocket book without me looking. Afterwards, I cut it up. Now, to continue avoiding triggers, particularly emotional spending, I’ve unsubscribed from email list to avoid the temptation of online shopping, removed all my cards from my wallet, and shop with list in most cases.
3. Use cash
It took me a long time, like a really long time, to develop the habit of using cash instead of swiping my debt card. It also took me a long time to remove my debit card from my wallet and use cash only or the cash envelope system. The cash envelope system is not working so well for me right now, swiping my cards had become so normal. I plan on being more diligent and consistent in my efforts.
4. Develop a Budget
I developed a budget about three months into my debt free journey. That budget did not work out so well after one attempt and I went back to my old system of paying bills, however I made sure to assign an increased amount towards my debt snowball payment. I’ve since developed a zero based budget, which continues to be a work in progress.
All the above techniques have been helpful in preventing me from spending too much money and paying off debt in this first year of my debt free journey. It does require lots of determination and discipline, which I didn’t have in the beginning. Which why, it’s probably called a journey!
In addition to the techniques above, I’ve stopped spending money on these 4 things as well:
- Dunken donuts coffee
- Manicures and pedicures
- Fast food
- Pocket books and shoes
Here is a video explaining exactly how much debt I’m in and why I began my journey!
Please add any tips you have to help people from spending too much money below? Is there anything that you stopped buying that you added back into your budget?