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4 Ways to Make Every Penny Stretch in 2017

4 Ways to Make Every Penny Stretch in 2017

Budgeting is something that most people hate to think about. Strangely enough, when they actually start to get into budgeting they find that they actually enjoy it. Not only does it give them more control over their life, but it relieves the stress that comes from not quite knowing how much money you have and if you are going to make it until next month. If being less stressed and having more control is something that is appealing, then keep reading. Here are 5 simple ways to help accomplish your budget this year.

1. Eat out less

Many people do not realize just how much they spend eating out each month. If you eat out for lunch every single day, you are probably spending upwards of $150 to $200 on lunch. That is the price of a decent car payment! If you choose instead to bring a lunch from home and save that money, the options are endless. You could get an upgrade on a car, create an emergency fund, save for retirement, or save up for a big summer vacation.

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2. Food savers

Food savers are one of the fastest growing trends in the last few years. The idea is that if you can make many meals at once, and then freeze them, you can save money and time, while still enjoying delicious meals. Many people will make up to 30 days worth of meals, put them in the freezer, and then spend an entire month without cooking.

Most of the meals can be warmed up in a crockpot, essentially requiring 5 minutes of time to have a healthy, delicious dinner. This will only save you money if you don’t overspend on a food saver. Try to get one that will last, but not cost more than it is worth. You can find some good medium-range food savers and reviews here.

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3. Carpool

If you have not budgeted then you likely do not even realize how much money you are spending on gas each month. The truth is, the average person spends almost $250 on gas every month. A majority of that is likely driving to work. Doing something as simple as finding a friend or co-worker that goes in the same direction can save another $100 a month.

Carpooling is also great for the environment and a great way to meet new people. With all of the benefits, why not give it a shot? If it doesn’t work then it is easy to go back to driving yourself.

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4. Pay of debt

The average American has a significant amount of debt on their credit cards. This may not seem like a big deal, but most credit cards have extremely high interest rates. This means that the average American also spends upwards of $100 a month just paying off interest. This is not paying off actual debt, this is just paying off interest. This is essentially money that is just getting thrown away. Pay off your debt and then focus on not getting back into debt and a significant amount of money can be saved each month.

5. Check insurance

Many people have had the same insurance company for years. A lot of things change in years and while that company may have been the best deal a few years ago, you could be drastically overpaying now. If you have the time, try shopping around with a few different insurance companies to see if rates have changed. You may be surprised.

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All of these have the potential to save hundreds of dollars a month. That money can be used for dozens of better things if it is saved and utilized. All of that on top of the increased satisfaction that budgeting brings makes it a no brainer!

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Spencer Mecham

Personal Finance Coach, Digital Marketer

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Last Updated on April 3, 2019

How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years

How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years

Debt is never a fun thing to be in. But, there are many actions that you can take that will help you rid yourself of the burden of debt once and for all.

By coming up with a set plan, eliminating your debt can feel much easier than constantly thinking about it.

This post will provide some tips on how you can do this to help you nix your credit card debt in less than 3 years.

Hint: there are ways that are easier than you think.

1. Consider Consolidating Multiple Credit Cards If Possible

This may not be applicable to you, but if you have multiple cards – it is something to consider. Keeping up with multiple bills is time consuming.

It will depend on the balance you have on each. Consolidate ones you can but do not do it to the point that you get too close to the maximum limit. Also, it is ideal to pick the card with the lower interest rate.

Consider if there are any fees or alternatively, rewards, with transferring a balance to another card. Watch out for fees. Note that some cards offer rewards for transferring a balance to them. This is extra cash that can help go towards paying off your debt.

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Having one or two cards can make nixing your debt much simpler than keeping up with the balance of a bunch of cards. Keeping track of paying the minimum towards a bunch of cards is time consuming. Spend the time to consolidate instead to make the overall process simpler going forward.

My tip: Have one main credit card. Have a second one that you use for necessities – such as groceries or gas – that offers rewards for those purchases (a lot of cards do) and set the second one on auto-pay. You should be able to pay off a smaller amount on auto-pay if it is a necessity. If you think you cannot, then you may need to cut down a lot on expenses.

Why do I suggest doing this? Having one thing set to auto-pay is one less thing to think about. One less thing to waste time on. Same idea with consolidating to one main card. Tracking down too many is a hassle.

2. Try to Pay the Full Balance You Spent Each Month at the Very Least

You need to pay off the amount you are spending each month when that bill comes in. This is the amount you spent THAT month.

Do not let the debt keep accruing while you work on paying any unpaid debt that has accrued. It will become a never-ending battle. Try as best as you can to be current on paying for each month’s expenses when that month’s bill comes out.

If this is a strain, consider why. You may need to cut expenses. Or you may need to consider other cards. Or look at where this money is going.

3. Pay Extra When You Can – Every Small Amount Counts

This cannot be emphasized enough. If you are looking at a lot of credit card debt, it can look daunting, but each extra amount that you can put towards the debt will really add up – no matter how small it is.

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It does not just reduce the principal amount that you have left to pay off, but it reduces the amount that is collecting interest. You will always save money with that reduced interest.

4. Create a Plan on How to Pay Extra

Back to the main point, having this plan is giving you one less thing to think about.

This plan should be a plan that works for you. If it does not work for you, your spending habits, and your views on debt, then it will not be an effective plan.

For instance, if a set plan of an extra $50 (or another amount that you know you can afford) works for you, then do that. Set that aside every month and pay that extra amount. Treat it like a bill. Choose an amount that works for you and pay it like clockwork as though it was a bill you had to pay each month.

Little amounts will not nix it entirely, but they will help tackle it and having a set plan can make it less of a chore. Creating a new plan of how much to put towards it each month is an unnecessary added stress.

5. Cut out Costs for Services You Do Not Use

If you are signed up for subscriptions that you do not use because of some free trial or for some other reason, cut it out. Your overall financial position will look better.

In turn, that will make cutting your credit card debt easier. Look at your statements to find these expenses. If you do not use them, you may forget you are paying some unnecessary amount each month. Cutting it out can really add up in savings that you can put towards other needed expenses.

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6. Get Aggressive About It

Consider these points:

Depending on the interest and the level of debt, you may need to give up a few indulgences. For example, instead of ordering delivery or going out to eat, cook at home. Everything adds up.

Other things may be more of a sacrifice. It may be a trip you wanted to go on, or a daily latte habit you’ve picked up. In these instances, consider how important it is to you and if it’s worth the sacrifice. And if it is a costly expense, think whether you can wait to indulge.

Cutting an extravagant expense can really help make a dent in your overall debt. Try not to add to debt when you are trying to pay it off. It will be a never-ending battle. Make it less of a battle with these tips and it will feel easier.

Bottom line: Do what you can to make this process easier for you. Implement steps that do this. It takes time now, but will help overall. Also, keep track of your spending and paying down of your debts. Which is the next point.

7. Reevaluate Your Progress at Set Intervals

Doing a regular check-in can help you see your efforts pay off or maybe indicate that you need to give this a bit more effort. If you check every 3-6 months, it will not feel so much like a chore or feel so daunting.

By doing this, you will be able to better understand your progress and perhaps readjust your plan. Bonus: if you see it pay off, it will feel great to do this check-in. You will get there.

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Finally (and most importantly)…

8. Keep Trying

Do not get discouraged. Pushing it off will make it worse. Just keep trying.

Once your debt becomes lower, each monthly payment will reduce the balance more. Why? You are paying less towards interest. It will be a snowball effect eventually and it will become much easier to manage. Just get to that point. And know once you do, it will feel easier and motivating.

Start Knocking out Your Debt Today

The best way to eliminate debt is to get started right away. Begin by implementing the above steps and watch your debt just melt away. Try out some of the above strategies and see what works best for you. Soon you’ll be on your way to a debt free life.

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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