4 Simple Strategies to Save Money and Eliminate Debt
By TOI Staff March 21, 2023 Update on : March 21, 2023
If you’re one of the 340 million Americans currently in debt, you’re probably unsure and a little apprehensive about the future. Whether it’s credit card debt, student loans, or a hefty mortgage payment, seeing those bills pile up can negatively affect your mental health and, therefore, your ability to navigate your current financial situation. Unfortunately, there is really no quick fix to getting out of debt–except filing for bankruptcy, which should only be used as an absolute last result because the repercussions can be long-lasting. The good news is there are many creative ways to cut your expenses and even bring in a little extra cash you may not have explored yet. Check out these suggestions to gain control of your financial situation and climb your way out of debt.
Research Government Programs
Cell phones and data services are a huge expense, yet a necessary one; staying in touch with children and family members is essential for maintaining a household and fostering connections that benefit your mental health. Many folks aren’t aware, but there are quite a few government-sponsored projects to help you and your family get the goods and services you need. One such initiative is the Affordable Connectivity Program. If you qualify, you will receive a free smartphone, unlimited talk and text, and up to 7 GB of data access on a major US cellular network.
Another program to consider is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. LIHEAP can assist with a variety of home energy costs depending on your unique needs, such as electricity, oil, natural gas, propane, and even wood. If you meet the criteria, you may qualify for assistance with everything you need to heat and power your home.
Tighten Your Budget
Sometimes, if you’re facing debt, it can be easier in the short term to cut expenses instead of bringing in extra income. Write down every expenditure and examine which ones can be cut. For example, streaming services or cable TV are recurring costs that can add up. Try cutting or eliminating your cable package, unsubscribing from streaming services you rarely watch, and put that money toward paying down your debt.
That’s not to say you can’t enjoy any entertainment; head down to your local library for books, movies, and even video games to check out and enjoy for free. If your kids are resistant to your decision to cut down on TV, give them some alternate forms of recreation. You can introduce a weekly board game night, set up a scavenger hunt, or take them outside for a game of catch or tag–all for free. Pretty soon, they’ll be having so much fun they’ll forget all about the television.
Sell Your Unused Possessions
You probably have various items around your house collecting dust, so turn that clutter into cash. Check out the garage for tools you don’t use or no longer need, old sporting equipment, or bikes that your kids have grown too big to ride. Old holiday decorations, extra cutlery and dishes, and even kids’ toys can turn a pretty sizable profit, and these items are always in demand for bargain hunters. Then arrange a tag sale (remember to obtain a permit if your town requires it; they’re usually very inexpensive) and start the cash rolling in.
If you have especially valuable possessions, selling them via the internet may be the way to go. This way, you can ship to interested parties from all over the world. Think collectible items such as action figures, comic books, limited edition ornament collections, or even stuffed toys; you could be sitting on some high-cost items that could help you get out of debt.
Prepare Meals Ahead of Time
Meal prepping is a great way to keep food costs down. Products such as meat, dairy, and even pantry staples are much cheaper to buy in bulk. For meat and poultry, you can freeze individual portions and take out what you need to cook for that week’s meal preparations. Pre Packaged and set aside your lunches for the week, and throw together some crockpot dinners in zippered bags to freeze or store in the fridge. This way, you avoid the temptation to order a pizza for dinner or buy lunch at work, as both meals are already laid out and ready.
Being in debt is a time of stress and uncertainty, but there are many ways to take control of the situation. Before you give up, cut down on spending, sell what you can, and see what programs you qualify for; the road out of debt may be shorter than you think.