When it comes to staying out of debt, it’s all about making the most of the money you do have and avoiding living outside of your means. Did you see the 25 Things to Do Instead of Spending Money article? If not, give it a look. The only way to stay out of debt is to avoid using it, and that means finding alternatives to getting or doing the things you want. The CGS Team is sharing 25 ways to avoid getting into debt so you can focus on your financial goals.
25 Ways to Stay Out of Debt
#1 Make Lists for Purchases
Impulse buys can kill your budget and cost you more than you think. Whenever you head out to the grocery or department store, make a list of what you need to buy and stick to it. Having a list will keep you focused on why you’re there and help you keep the impulse buys in check. Make it fun with a cute Shopping List!
#2 Track Your Spending
Not only does tracking your spending allow you to see where your money is going, it can show you how much you overspend (or underspend). You can use this information to see where you can cut back to save more or put more onto your debt payments.
#3 Stick to Cash
Use cash for any spending that isn’t a recurring bill. Cash is great because it gives you a visual limit. Once the cash is gone, no more spending until the next paycheck. Plus, if you’re using cash, you aren’t using your credit card!
#4 Make Coffee at Home or Work
This is a tough one, even for the ladies of CGS. We all love a good latte, but the prices are not in anyone’s favor (except the coffee shop). Instead of buying your coffee every day, switch off making coffee at home or work. It may not taste as great, but it will certainly save you money and make your coffee shop days more enjoyable. Order your Starbucks-worthy coffee to make at home at work.
#5 Unsubscribe to Email Alerts
We’ve explained that email alerts are one of the ways stores encourage you to overspend. Avoid the temptation to see what’s on sale and ultimately spend money by unsubscribing or having those alerts sent to a special folder in your inbox.
#6 Pay Credit Cards Multiple Times a Month
If you use your credit cards for the rewards points and usually pay the balances in full, consider paying weekly or bi-weekly. This will allow you to use the card and not worry about the balance being too high to pay in full at the end of the month.
#7 Sell Some Stuff
Did you know a CGS member made $200 selling old clothes? If you have a bunch of stuff you don’t use anymore, sell it! Consignment shops and eBay are great options for selling your clothes. You may not get much, but it’s more than what you’re getting with the items sitting in your house.
#8 Cancel Unused Memberships
Haven’t been to the gym in months? What about that annual Thrive Market charge? If you aren’t using your subscriptions, cancel them!
#9 Buy Used
Whenever you need to make a one-time purchase, consider visiting a thrift or consignment shop. You can save a lot of money buying gently used items. Not everything should be purchased secondhand, but you can certainly get some great things.
#10 Take Public Transportation
Car maintenance is very expensive. Consider public transportation every now and then to save money on gas and avoid putting miles on your car.
#11 Go to the Library to Read
We all love a great book, but you don’t always need to buy it. Visit your local library to read some books or watch movies. It’s a great way to support the community and may take you back to younger times.
#12 Learn to Say No
Since you have a budget and you track your expenses, you should know when you can’t afford something. Learn to say “no” to friends and family who prod you into doing something you can’t afford.
#13 Budget for Fun
In addition to learning to say “no”, give yourself a budget for fun. That way you don’t always have to say no!
#14 Always Use Wi-Fi
Data overages can be very costly. Avoid getting charged by always using Wi-Fi whenever you’re out. Not every place offers free Wi-Fi, but the list is definitely growing.
#15 Look for Freebies
Check your city’s website or community organization for free events in your area. You may be surprised to see what’s available to you without costing you a dime!
#16 Pack a Lunch
Eating out for lunch every day can cost you serious bucks. Bring your lunch to work every other day to save money.
#17 Remember Your Goals
One of the best ways to avoid using debt or overspending in general is to remember why you’re cutting back. Your goals should be a driving force in keeping you motivated and inspired, even through the temptations.
#18 Meal Prep
When you plan your meals ahead of time, you know exactly what you need to re-up on at the store, and you avoid picking something up at the last minute because you didn’t think through what to eat. Check out our tips for healthy meal prepping.
#19 Join Loyalty Programs
Check to see if your favorite store, restaurant or coffee shop has a loyalty program. If you find yourself shopping there frequently, you may score some free purchases or discounts. Read our favorite fashion loyalty programs in Stores With the Best Loyalty Programs.
#20 Check for Discounts
You may be eligible for discounts on your cell phone bill, car purchase, and more just because of where you work or where you went to school. Check for discounts through your employer or alumni association to see what you can get for less!
#21 Ask for a Lower Interest Rate
If you have been diligent about paying your credit cards on time every month and haven’t been using them, ask your lender for a lower interest rate. The worse thing they can say is no.
#22 Strategically Tackle Your Debts
Instead of paying the minimum each month or just throwing extra money when you can, come up with a strategic plan for paying off your debts.
#23 Learn about Finance
The more you know about finance, the better your chances of thinking through a purchase or situation. Take the time to learn all you can and apply that knowledge when the situation comes up.
#24 Save for an Emergency
You may be debt-free, but if you have no money saved for an emergency, you may wind up back in debt. Put money aside every paycheck for unexpected expenses.
#25 Wants vs. Needs
When you can differentiate a want item versus a need item, you can make the best financial choice. Avoid spending on want items until you can save or budget for them.
Staying out of debt doesn’t have to be difficult, especially if you know what to do! Keep these tips in mind the next time you make a purchase or review your budget. Get creative with all of the different ways to cut back. Check out 100 Ways to Cut Back for some other tips! How do you stay out of debt? What strategies do you have for cutting back? We want to know what works for you! Leave a comment below to share.