A common question people have when they are struggling financially, is “How do I lower my debt?” Some solutions are more aggressive than others and depending on your individual situation; each one has its benefits. Making an assessment of your situation and calculating the amount of debtyou owe, how much you can afford to spend each month towards paying off that debt, and how quickly you want to tackle them will assist you in choosing which debt solution will work for you.
“Lower My Debt” the Old Fashioned Way
Spending less equates to saving more. This method requires a major lifestyle change and eliminating wasteful spending in order to save money and pay off debt. According to bankrate.com, below are the top 10 things that Americans waste money on:
1) Coffee- Most people spend about $4.00 a visit at Starbucks. If you’re visiting Starbuck’s every morning that equates to $20.00 per week on coffee. That’s approximately $80.00 per month and $960.00 a year spent on just coffee.
2) Cigarettes-According to tobaccofreekids.org, the average price for a pack of cigarettes in the United States is $4.54. If you smoke a pack a day, you’re a spending $1600 a year on cigarettes. Cutting down on smoking, not only is better for your pocketbook but will also be better for your health!
3) Alcohol-Going out to the bar or club during the weekend can add up. With, drink prices as high as $10.00; you are spending about $50-$100 a night on alcohol. The rounds of drinks you buy can add up, not to mention, having to tip your bartender. Doing this every weekend will equate to about $1200 spent each year on alcohol and a hangover you are sure to have the next morning.
4) Bottled Water-A bottle of Aquafina (20 oz.) can cost you about $1.00. If you’re buying a bottle a day, that’s about $365.00 a year spent on something that you can practically get for FREE. This is something simple that you can cut back on, why spend the extra cash if you don’t have to.
5) Manicures-Manicures and pedicures can cost anywhere between $30 and $50. Going to the nail salon about twice a month will cost you approximately $100. Limit your visit to the nail salons for only special occasions. Even cutting your visit to one time a month can save you $600 a year.
6) Car Washes-If you just want a standard wash and dry service, a car wash can cost you about $20 a visit. If you’re washing your car every week that’s about $100.00 a month spent on something you can do yourself at home.
7) Weekday Lunches out-Most people spend about $9.00 a day to eat lunch during the week. That comes out to about $2300 spent each year on lunch food. Take the extra time each night to pack yourself a lunch. Just spending a little time doing this, can save you a lot of money in the long run.
8) Vending Machine Snacks-Snacks sold at the vending machines usually cost about $.75-$1 and will sometimes require more than one bag to satisfy that craving appetite. Take the time out to buy snacks at the grocery store and bring it with you to work so that you’re not tempted to visit that machine every day. Remember, every little bit counts!
9) Interest Charges on Credit Cards-According to indexcreditcards.com the average consumer credit card rate is 14.03%. Typically, minimum payments are calculated to only pay 1%-3% of your balance. So, if you have a card that has a balance of $5000 and you are only making the minimum payments of 2% of your balance, it will take you about 22 years to pay off the debt. If you are one of those asking the question – how do I lower my debt – try to make more than just the minimum payments and get those cards paid off!
10) Unused Membership-Gym memberships can cost about $30 – $40 a month. If you are not using your gym membership, you are flushing about $480 a year down the toilet. Check with your gym, and see if they can place you on a “pay per visit” plan, where you can pay each time you come to their gym. Or, check with the area you live in, some apartment complexes have onsite gyms their residents may use free of charge.
As you can see, making a lifestyle change and saving can assist in helping those who are asking, “How do I lower my debt?” This method is the least aggressive. It is best for individuals who don’t have major debt challenges and are still current on their payments, as there are no negative credit consequences.