Usually they are telling you this as you sit in a restaurant having a drink and some nachos.
You sigh and nod, trying to pay attention as they go through their latest ‘woe is me’ saga about the kids needing new shoes and the dishwasher breaking down.
What you are thinking in your head is, “Well, stop talking about it and DO something!”
If only it were that simple. The problem with people that seem to always be stuck in the same rut is that they are either not willing to make changes, or are only willing to go so far.
The Latte Factor is a Myth
We’ve All heard about the Latte Factor by now — where you can cut back spending on little extras like a daily Starbucks Latte to save money. Usually those articles go on to mention a number of other ‘simple’ and ‘painless’ ways to cut back like taking your lunch to work a couple times a week.
Sure, those ideas may help the people that are used to stopping for premium coffee every day and eating out at lunch, but what about the rest of us? In the Money Matters forum I moderate on MommySavers.com, I asked, “What would you be willing to give up for one year to get ahead, or catch up?”
Most of them said they are already living very frugal lifestyles, but still felt behind. Sure, it’s easy to tell people to cut up their credit cards and build an emergency fund, but for many every expense is an emergency. If they cut up their cards, they may not be able to afford the gas to get to work and end up in worse shape.
So, how do you get out of debt when you feel like you are already doing everything you can and still just barely keeping your head above water?
Think (No, Get!) Outside Your Comfort Zone
I’m taking about bigger, more radical lifestyle changes that can immediately bring results. Some you may already do, but others might be uncomfortable to you — until you weigh them against the frustration and anxiety you are already feeling:
- Move back home.
- Get a roommate.
- Rent out part of your home.
- If you are renting, get a discount for becoming a property manager or leasing agent.
- Give up your car.
- Go without air conditioning in your home and car. (hey, we lived like that growing up.)
- Agree to not giving each other presents for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.
- Use only a pre-paid phone and skip the data plan.
- No eating out.
- No smoking or drinking alcohol.
- No taking on new pets or having more children.
- Give up cable or satellite TV.
- Only drink water, and plain coffee or tea.
- Make your food, dish and laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, and body products from scratch.
- Learn to freeze or preserve fruit, produce, milk, bread, dough, leftovers, grains, broth, so you do not waste these foods.
- Learn to make broth from bones.
- Learn to stretch meals with cheap cuts of meats, filling whole grains and proteins such as brown rice, quinoa, lentils and black beans.
- Plan meals ahead, and keep leftover meals and ingredients on hand for nights you aren’t up for cooking.
- Find a better paying job.
- Get a second job.
- Share babysitting costs with another family by trading shifts.
- Work at a daycare center that lets you enroll your children for free or a steep discount.
- Trade and barter your own goods and services for ones you need.
- Don’t pay others for things you can do yourself, such as your nails, hair, brows, hair removal, clothes mending, and massage.
- Don’t buy makeup or expensive serums and other skin products. You skin appreciates being able to breathe. Use witch hazel for a light toner and moisturize with jojoba or coconut oil.
- If you are always out because you work, treat your home as a restful place you enjoy for a break and comfort. You won’t need a vacation if you enjoy being at home. The break is from work, not your life.
- If you don’t work and get antsy being home all the time, meet others at parks and playgrounds, or take a walk outdoors rather than hitting the mall or a restaurant.
- Keep a snack and drink in the car, especially for the times you are out later than you anticipated. A simple granola bar can save you from spending $20 picking up fast food.
I’d love to hear more ideas about what you have found helpful for getting serious about paying down debt! Please write to me or comment below.
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