Are your drowning in debt and need some tips on frugal living to make ends meet? If you're like most people in today's world, you may find yourself drowning in debt. Unfortunately for many people, a lot of that debt is due to credit card debt. According to CreditCards.com, the average credit card debt that people are carrying has steadily been increasing over the years.
The problem with increasing credit card debt is that many people have brought it upon themselves. It’s much easier to pull out a credit card to make a purchase than it is to pay with cash. After all, paying with a credit card doesn’t decrease the amount of money in your wallet, so you don’t feel the pinch of having less available cash.
And most people have good intentions on paying their purchase off when the statement comes in. In reality though, when the credit card statement arrives it is usually competing for the available money needed to pay for housing expenses, utilities and groceries. As a result, most people will pay the minimum amount due and promise to do better next month.
Other people simply aren't able to pay their outstanding credit card bills because they don’t make enough money, have unexpected medical bills or have lost jobs. Some have gotten far enough behind they have had to consider bankruptcy.
If you have found yourself struggling with credit card debt and need a way to get ahead of the problem, it’s time to make some adjustments. To help you out, here are some tips on frugal living that can help free up some extra money:
One of the first things you need to start cutting back on is your non-essential purchases. For one week, keep a journal of all your expenses. As you go through your day, make note of where you are spending money. Is it your morning gourmet coffee or lunch at the nearby restaurant? How about that gym membership you never use?
At the end of the week, total up these expenses. You may be surprised at just how much you’re paying for all the little extras that seem insignificant. Now you can figure out ways to trim these expenses, maybe by making your own coffee at home and brown-bagging your lunch. Trying cooking meals at home instead of eating out for dinner (it will taste better). For clothing, consider the clearance racks or even second-hand stores. And when you go shopping, make a list and stick to it.
The important thing is to separate your needs from your wants. Needs are what is required to live; things such as housing, food, and transportation. Wants are things like expensive dinners out, designer clothing, and the little extras you buy because you think you deserve them. By limiting all those discretionary expenses, you’ll be able free up extra cash and begin making a dent on your debts.
Transportation to and from work can eat up a big chunk of your budget. But there are ways to reduce its impact. You might ask your co-workers if they want to car pool and split the costs. If you live in an area with an area transit system, check out bus fares and routes to see if this can help reduce your travel costs.
Some people who live close to their jobs have even ditched motorized transportation in favor of using a bicycle to get to work. If your car payments are stretching your budget to the limit, maybe it’s time to think about selling your car. You can then buy a used car with the money left over after paying off the car loan.
When it comes to embracing a more frugal lifestyle, it helps to be smart about your food costs. Groceries are expensive, but by making sensible choices you can greatly reduce what you spend each month on food.
First of all, eat at home. You can buy a lot of groceries for what it costs to eat out at a restaurant. If you think you don’t have time to cook, consider making meals in advance. Basically, you make two or three extra meals when you do cook and freeze the extras. This way you always have something in the freezer to eat.
When it comes to shopping, always start with a list. You can even plan your meals according to what is on sale in the grocery flyers. And consider using coupons for the foods you are planning to buy. These can either be from the Sunday circulars or online coupon sites. Just make sure you only use coupons for things you will really use.
Only shop once a week. This helps reduce those impulse buys that really add to your grocery bill. If you’ve planned out your meals for the week, shopping just once a week is much easier. Plus, try to go shopping alone. Bringing your spouse or kids along is a sure way to end up with a lot of unplanned snacks and convenience foods. And another good tip is not go shopping when you’re hungry. It helps you avoid splurging on things just because you’re starving.
Instead of going to the movies, consider renting movies and watching them at home. Not only will you save a lot of money on the price of tickets, you won’t be paying for expensive popcorn and drinks. Plus you’ll have the luxury of pausing the movie so you can go get a snack or take a much needed bathroom break.
You can also use the library to check out movies or books instead of automatically going to Netflix or Amazon. You can even read magazines at the library and cancel your subscription or stop buying them at the checkout line.
If you like to spend time with your friends at concerts or downtown bars, consider checking out free venues or hosting a get together at your place. Maybe even make it a pot-luck supper and play board games afterwards. On another note, cut the premium movie channels if you don’t use them. It makes no sense to pay for something you never watch.
These are just a few tips on frugal living so you can start getting out from under your debt. Here are some more tips that can help: