Living with debt hanging over you is hard work. Even the most straightforward decisions have to be planned for, and every cent is a vital resource. Often, debt seems like something that will never be gone, but it might be easier to aim for a debt-free life than you might think. Taking more control of your finances and how you use them is the key, and frugal living is the answer. There are a lot of misconceptions about frugality, but it doesn’t mean making ridiculous changes to your life. Instead, it’s about being more mindful when it comes to your spending decisions. If debt is getting you down, here are some essential frugal living tips that might change your future.
Thinking about Transport
Owning a car is always going to be an expense and one that demands continuous spending. Everything from filling up with gas to making minor repairs (let alone your insurance costs), all mean money being spent that could be used elsewhere. Of course, many people can’t live without their cars, but for families with more than one vehicle, it’s always a smart move to cut vehicle ownership down. Public transport is, on average, 80% cheaper than owning and using a car, and bicycles are even cheaper (and healthier). If you absolutely must have more than one car, opt for smaller vehicles that get better gas mileage.
Downsize Your Home
It might be lovely to have a large house that you can get lost in, but do you really need all of those empty, unused rooms? Downsizing to a smaller property can seem like a huge step, and it’s a commitment to frugality that many people will avoid. However, smaller homes mean smaller bills, lower rental prices, and fewer maintenance issues to repair. One of the most significant changes to make to your life but the one with the some of the best impacts on your financial situation, downsizing your home should be something that you give serious thought to.
Your heating and air-con bill is going to be a constant hassle when money is tight, so you need to minimize it as much as possible. During the colder months, don’t have your thermostat on full-whack 24-hours a day. Instead, keep warm but not excessively so, and wear additional layers on those chilly evenings. Look for ways to cut heating costs in winter. The same rule applies over the summer when you should minimize how much you rely on your air-con and instead find alternative ways to cool down. Simple changes, like turning down your temperature overnight, can save you a lot of money that you can then spend on reducing your debts.
Cable and Streaming
This is one of those changes that people are most likely to put off for as long as possible, but you might be surprised by how much you can save by canceling your subscription to entertainment services. If you’re paying for cable, Netflix, Prime TV, HBO Max, and Spotify, then that’s a lot of money leaving your bank account every month. You don’t have to get rid of everything, and you don’t have to sit and stare at the walls all day! Simply get rid of the services that you use the least, or alternate by month, which subscription you keep up with. Binge Netflix one month, cancel your account, and they have Hulu for a month. It means a little work, but the savings can easily pay for a week’s worth of food.
Use the Library
Your local library is something that you should absolutely get used to using. Libraries are one of the only public spaces left to us that doesn’t demand that we spend money! Libraries mean entertainment and education, and they are packed with books, albums, and DVDs. Never underestimate the value of libraries, and how much they can save you when it comes to entertainment. You can also check out any available classes that the local library offers, many of which will be free to join. If you’re still panicking about cutting your cable and canceling your Netflix, then libraries can go a long way to ensuring that you never get bored.
Know Your Rights
You’ll find that you can save a lot of money simply by being more aware of what you owe and what your rights are when it comes to debt. Debt collectors vary in terms of professionalism, so the more that you know your rights, the more you can protect yourself against the more overzealous examples that are all too common. You have legal protections in place to ensure that debt collectors do not hassle, harass, or threaten you. Make sure that you have a basic understanding of your debt lawsuit rights and protectionsso that you don’t feel pressured into making debt repayments that you simply can’t afford. When it comes to debt, the more that you know about what you owe and what your rights are, the easier it is to start paying back what’s owed in a way that best suits you.
Living with frugality doesn’t have to mean eating lentils on bread every mealtime! You can still treat yourself to eating out, but you can cut your costs by being smarter about it. Try to avoid booking a restaurant for evening meals which will tend to be more expensive than lunchtime menus, and you will often find a higher number of special offer lunchtime options too. Basic changes like opting for a cheaper brand of beer or wine (or just sticking to water) will cut your bill drastically. Of course, eating out is going to be an occasional treat, but even on those occasions, you can still pay attention to how much you spend.
There are lots of reasons to go vegetarian, but for those trying to cut down their weekly shopping bill, meat is a huge expense. You can slash your weekly shopping bill by either getting rid of meat entirely or limiting it to one or two meals a week. If you have meat with every meal, then your shopping bill is always going to be higher. If you’re not sure how you’d cope with the vegetarian life, start slowly. Stop eating meat on a Wednesday and see how easy it is to find recipes. Then, extend that to Thursdays. Soon, you’ll be having meat just a couple of times a week instead of a couple of times a day, and your shopping costs will have dropped a lot more than you think.
Cut Up Your Cards
Credit cards are very easy to use, and they can quickly become a crutch that you rely on. Try to adopt a cash-based budget so that you know exactly how much money you have to spend at all times. As you start to chip away at your debt, you’ll find that avoiding credit card use can mean a lot more money in your bank account at the end of every month. That means you can make more repayments, speeding up the time it takes you to break free of debt entirely. Try to approach your spending with the idea that if you don’t have the money that you need to treat yourself, then you should wait until your finances can handle that spend. Using credit cards means adding to your debt instead of alleviating it.
It can be hard work to make the change to a more frugal approach to living, but your debt can’t be ignored. You will have to be patient too because it can be a long process to eradicate debt, and it may often feel that even the most frugal living is having little effect on your debt levels. However, by constantly chipping away at what you owe, you will gain more control over your finances, and by always spending less than you earn, you will ensure that your debt levels are always going down.