108 Tips to Help Get Out of Debt Fast
When it comes to success in our professional and personal lives, few things are more important than achieving a reasonable standard of living through wise personal finance decisions.
Through our job choices, our savings, and our investing decisions, we determine what will be possible for us in the future, as well as when we can retire and how pleasant our retirement will be. However, without the right information available at our fingertips, we can often become paralyzed when it comes time to make those important decisions. It’s time to use the 108 tips to get out of debt fast and save for the future!
For instance, when it comes time to save, we might decide to put it off for another day. Or when it comes time to invest, we might jump the gun and it too early, even though we have outstanding debts that bear higher interest rates.
Tips to Get out of Debt Fast 1 Through 24
Tip #1: Buy products online
One good way to limit impulse buying is to buy products online. It will allow you to more easily comparison shop. And it will also prevent you from thinking that you have to buy so that you don’t have to drive somewhere else to make the purchase.
Tip #2: Comparison shop
When making large purchases, you should always comparison-shop. By spending an extra 20-30 minutes to research your options, you could easily save hundreds or more.
Tip #3: Use coupons
Whether you’re grocery shopping or shopping for new electronics, using coupons is always a good way to go. So, from now on, stay in the habit of checking the newspaper and other local sources of coupons.
The Internet is now awash in online coupon sites. They collect and store coupons that can be printed and used at various brick-and-mortar stores. Before you step out of your house, consider looking for coupons for your retail destination; and then putting them to use. Don’t forget the ones you can download on your cell phone as well.
Tip #4: Enroll in rewards programs
Grocery stores, clothing stores, and other retail stores now offer rewards programs. By signing up for a free membership, you can often gain access to a variety of coupons, discounts, and cash-back offers. Be sure to enroll in rewards programs that are offered at all of your favorite stores.
Tip #5: Look for specials at the grocery store
Grocery stores often have specials on the food they suspect they won’t be able to sell. Take advantage of these specials by purchasing food that you want anyway, but at a sharp discount.
Tip #6: Create a shopping list in advance
Eliminate junk food and foods that are inessential by creating a shopping list in advance. At the end of the day, you’ll walk away having spent less, and you’ll also have all of the ingredients you’ll need for weekly meals.
Tip #7: Wait for sales
Some stores have regular sales. For instance, many stores hold sales after Christmas and other major holidays to sell off seasonal inventory. Take advantage of these predictable sales by delaying your purchases.
Tip #8: Limit entertainment spending
Entertainment is important, but can often be obtained cheaply. From now on, limit your spending on entertainment until you have paid off your monthly bills and have saved a fixed portion of your income.
Tip #9: Get a sewing kit
Get a sewing kit and learn how to use it. Next time you rip the leg of your pants or the arm of your shirt, simply use the sewing kit to fix it, rather than buying an entirely new article of clothing.
Tip #10: Learn how to do basic home repairs
Learning how to do basic home repairs can save you a lot of money. Instead of calling a plumber or a carpenter, you can simply do the repairs yourself, saving you money and possibly also saving you the time it would take to negotiate the repairs.
Tip #11: Limit spending on expensive toys
As a parent, it is your natural inclination to do what you believe is best for your child (and, sometimes, to simply spoil them). But when it comes to toys, more (and more expensive) is not always better. So, before you sink hundreds into the most fashionable toys, think twice about whether or not your kid might be better served by something less expensive.
Tip #12: Go to the movies less
Instead of going to the movies all the time, stay home and rent a movie through your cable television service and procure your own snacks. Instead of spending $30-50, you’ll spend a mere $10.
Tip #13: Substitute cheaper food for expensive foods
Instead of dropping $200 per week on groceries, think hard about which items are luxuries and which items are actually important components of your weekly menu. Eliminate expensive items in favor of cheaper ones.
Tip #14: Buy store-brand products
Store brand products are cheaper and frequently identical to name brand items. So, instead of immediately paying a premium for the name brand product, consider at least trying the store brand once.
Tip #15: Use the slower shipping option
When it comes to making online purchases, it is often tempting to opt for the fastest shipping. From now on, practice delayed gratification and opt for the slower, cheaper shipping option.
Tip #16: Buy gifts far in advance
Many people wait until the last moment to buy gifts. As a result, they end up spending a lot of money the day or night before the event simply to get something nice. Instead of doing this, allow yourself weeks or months to pick up the product. Instead of rushing around the night before, you may stumble over it in a sale in the weeks leading up to the event.
Tip #17: Make your own gifts
Candles, jewelry, and mix CDs can often make excellent, highly personalized gifts. Instead of purchasing a gift at the store, consider making one for your friend or family member.
Tip #18: Take public transportation
Public transportation is often cheaper than owning, maintaining, and paying for gas for a car. Consider selling your car and making the switch.
Tip #19: Walk more
Instead of driving your car small distances to the store and post office, consider walking to those places instead. Not only is it good for you, but it will save you money on gas and wear-and-tear.
Tip #20: Purchase a speed pass for tolls
If the region you live in offers an automatic toll pass, purchase it. It may have a high upfront cost, but it will pay off in reduced tolls over time.
Tip #21: Purchase a pass for public transportation
Purchase a pass to take the local train or subway system. In the long run, you’ll save a lot of money by paying less each time you use public transportation.
Tip #22: Spend money on entertainment with high re-use value
Instead of sinking money into video games and other forms of entertainment that cannot be reused, instead, focus on forms of entertainment that have a high reusability factor. That is, try to get the most entertainment per dollar spent.
Purchase video games with high replay value. Don’t settle for purchasing a $50 game that will no longer be enjoyable after a single play.
Tip #23: Limit consumption of flavored drinks
Flavored drinks are an expensive luxury that frequently is not worth the amount we pay. Instead, take a water bottle with you and fill it up at home using the tap.
Tip #24: Make coffee or tea at home
Buying coffee or tea at your favorite place can often be a nice experience. However, it is many times more expensive than making the same coffee or tea at home.
Tips to Get Out of Debt Fast 25 through 50
Tip #25: Stop smoking
Smoking is both unhealthy and costly, so quit smoking. Help is out there if you want to stop.
Tip #26: Reduce alcohol consumption
Excessive drinking is both unhealthy and an unproductive activity. Cut the alcohol out of your budget and your life.
Tip #27: Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents
CFLs generate the light without the heat. For this reason, they use less energy. So make the switch to CFLs.
Tip #28: Use the air conditioner and/or heater less frequently
Air conditioners and heaters can use a great deal of electricity. So if you don’t need to keep a room hot or cool, don’t use them.
Tip #29: Hold a yard sale or set up a booth at a flea market
Holding a yard sale or setting up a booth at a flea market will help you to a) get rid of the junk accumulating in your closets, and b) pick up some extra cash.
Tip #30: Invest more time into comparison-shopping for expensive products
When it comes to high-ticket items, spend extra time doing comparison-shopping. Consider using eBay, Google Shopping, and other online platforms to compare prices, so that you get the best deal.
Tip #31: Base grocery shopping and meal plans around the availability of coupons
Instead of using a fixed menu to buy groceries, create your menu to fit the availability of coupons for a particular week. This will ensure that you save as much as is possible each time you grocery shop.
Tip #32: Don’t become addicted to spending
Some of us gain pleasure simply by spending money. If you get a high from shopping it might be time to get some help.
Tip #33: Meet with a financial planner
A financial planner can help you to visualize your future; and how it will be shaped by savings decisions today. Do this as soon as possible, and get yourself in a plan.
Tip #34: Shop for clothes at second-hand stores
Second-hand stores often offer high-quality clothing for a mere fraction of the store price. Instead of spending all of your money on expensive brands at retail stores, consider getting the same items second hand.
Tip #35: Shop at bulk stores
Bulk stores allow you to get massive amounts of products at a steep discount. If you want to save money in the long run, buying from these stores (and then storing the remaining quantities of the item) is the way to go.
Tip #36: Cook in bulk
Cooking in bulk is another good way to save money and time. You can do this by producing a week’s worth of food (or more) in a single session of cooking. You can then freeze the remaining food and re-heat it later in the week.
Tip #37: Go on fewer vacations
Vacations can be tremendously costly, so try to cut back on how frequently you take them.
Tip #38: Limit spending on vacations you do take
When you do go on vacation, try to spend less. Instead of purchasing expensive hotel rooms, expensive dinners, and expensive drinks, try to rein things in and focus on being happy, rather than achieving happiness through luxury.
Tip #39: Go on cheaper vacations
Go camping or take a “stay-cation.” These can often be just as fun as a vacation to a faraway place, but much cheaper.
Tip #40: Re-finance your house
Since one of your largest monthly expenses is probably your mortgage, it is always a good idea to consider whether or not you could benefit from re finance. Do this periodically to make sure that you are getting the best rate.
Tip #41: Eat less steak and more chicken and pork
Steak is much more expensive than chicken and pork. Consider substituting between the meats to reduce the amount you spent on groceries.
Tip #42: Eat less meat
Relative to the nutritional value it provides, meat is one of the more expensive components of your grocery spending. Consider cutting down on the amount you consume.
Tip #43: Ask your credit card company to lower your interest rates
Getting a lower interest rate on your credit card is often as simple as placing a call to the company. Get in the habit of doing this on a regular basis.
Tip #44: Pay off higher interest rate debt
Instead of paying down low-interest rate debt, pay down high-interest rate debt. This will reduce the overall amount you pay for debt servicing.
Tip #45: Ask to get fees waived
Stores, credit card companies, and membership programs are often willing to waive fees if you claim that you will not use the service otherwise.
Tip #46: Ask your cable television provider to offer you a cheaper package
Instead of purchasing the most expensive cable package, consider downgrading to one that only contains the channels you need, but at a lower price.
Tip #47: Move into a cheaper apartment or home
If your rent or mortgage is unsustainably high, then move into a cheaper apartment or home.
Tip #48: Re-finance your car
Consider refinancing your car. If your income has increased or your credit as improved, you might be able to get a lower rate.
Tip #49: Sell your car
Cars are expensive. Consider selling yours and taking public transportation instead.
Tip #50: Purchase a cheaper car
Sell your car and buy a cheaper one—or perhaps one that gets better gas mileage.
Tips to Get out of Debt Fast 51 through 80
Tip #51: Purchase additional razor blades, rather than entirely new razors
Instead of buying a new razor, buy new blades, which are often now sold separately.
Tip #52: Re-fill ink cartridges, rather than buying new ones
Ink cartridges can now usually be re-filled using a toolkit and some toner. This is considerably less expensive than purchasing a new cartridge.
Tip #53: Re-finance your student loans
If you are able to refinance your student loans at a lower rate, do it.
Tip #54: Create a carpool for getting to work
You need to get to work, and so do your co-workers. Create a carpool to save on gas and wear-and-tear.
Tip #55: Add air to your car’s tires
Adding air to your car’s tires (so that they are properly inflated) can improve your gas mileage considerably.
Tip #56: Try to fix broken items, rather than buying new ones
Fixing broken chairs, banisters, and other pieces of furniture or fixtures in your home is cheaper than buying new ones.
Tip #57: Take a bagged lunch to work
If you’re careful, you can take bagged lunches to work for a week for the same price you would spend in a single day if you were to go out to lunch.
Tip #58: Limit the frequency with which you dine out
Dining out can be very expensive, and it is often easy to ignore exactly how expensive it is. Try to do it less frequently.
Tip #59: When you go to restaurants, purchase cheaper dishes
If you do decide to dine out, don’t use that as a reason to splurge. Look for cheaper dishes and drink only water.
Tip #60: Go to less expensive restaurants
Not all restaurants are equally as pricey. Instead of blowing all of your cash on a fancy night out, go to a cheaper one. It can easily be just as enjoyable.
Tip #61: Shop at thrift stores
Thrift stores often carry a wide variety of second-hand items, including books, clothing, and furniture. Instead of buying things new, first, consider going to a thrift store.
Tip #62: Keep track of your debt
Instead of paying attention to your minimum payments only, keep track of the total amount of debt you’re holding, including student loans, credit card debts, and your mortgage.
Tip #63: Keep track of your savings and investments
Many people make the mistake of ignoring their savings and investment. As a result, they reap small returns—if anything. They also face the risk of large losses during recessions and bubble bursts. Pay attention to where your money is invested and saved.
Tip #64: Get term, rather than whole life insurance
Don’t invest in life insurance. Instead, use it for its intended purpose: get term insurance.
Tip #65: Use local exchange sites to find furniture
Use local exchange sites to get furniture. In many cases, you will be able to find bed frames, couches, and shelves for free.
Tip #66: Avoid impulse spending
Never buy in the heat of the moment. Instead, take some time to thing purchases over—especially when they are large—before making the decision.
Tip #67: Do not spend up to your credit limit
Spending up to your credit limit is rarely a good idea. Instead, try to stay as far away from your limit as possible.
Tip #68: Cut up your credit card if you can’t control spending
While closing credit card accounts can often look like a negative on credit reports, no one will know if you cut up a card and threw it out. So cut up most of your credit cards and throw them out, but maintain your accounts.
Tip #69: Get a copy of your credit report
At least twice a year, get a copy of your credit report to check for errors or for problems you missed. I use Credit Karma and it’s free!
Tip #70: Ask your bank for better terms if you have loans
Call your bank and ask for better terms. This could help you to eliminate fees and get a higher interest rate.
Tip #71: Switch to a bank that has more ATMs in your area
If you constantly find yourself paying fees to use other banks’ ATMs, consider switching to a bank that offers more ATMs in your area.
Tip #72: Put a fixed fraction of your income into your savings
Instead of thinking about how much to save each month, automatically put 10% of your income into savings each month. This is a good habit to develop earlier.
Tip #73: Cut down on extras on your cell phone plan
Get rid of extras on your cell phone plan, including extended texting and data plans.
Tip #74: Clean your car at home, rather than paying for it.
Instead of bringing your car to the car wash, grab a bucket of soapy water and a big sponge and get to work. You could save yourself a lot of money.
Tip #75: Get your tires rotated
Rotating your tires can significantly improve your gas mileage and cut down on wear-and-tear. Make sure you do it regularly.
Tip #76: Start riding a bike
Riding a bike is a good way to both get in shape and save money. Do it rather than driving your car everywhere.
Tip #77: Avoid clothes that require expensive upkeep, such as dry-cleaning
Instead of opting for clothes that involve extensive dry cleaning, get clothes that do not require any special care. This will save you a considerable amount of money in upkeep.
Tip #78: Use Open Source software, rather than expensive, proprietary software
Open Source software, such as OpenOffice, is free. Consider downloading and using it, rather than using expensive software.
Tip #79: Sell your old clothes on eBay
If you have extra clothing that no longer fits (or that you no longer like), sell it on eBay for some extra cash. You can also sell old computers and computer parts there as well.
Tip #80: Negotiate the price of your car
Whenever you buy a car, negotiate the price, rather than taking what is offered. Often, this can save you several hundred dollars.
Tips to Get out of Debt Fast 81 through 108
Tip #81: Avoid purchasing store warranties
Store warranties for electronics and other products are often rip-offs. Given the probability of replacement, the cost of the warranty is simply too high.
Tip #82: Turn off the lights when you’re not using a room
If you’re not using a room, shut off the lights. Don’t pay for electricity if you aren’t using it.
Tip #83: Clean off your refrigerator coils
Cleaning off your refrigerator coils on a regular basis can significantly reduce the cost of refrigeration by improving its efficiency.
Tip #84: Pay your bills online
Companies are often willing to reduce your bill if you pay online. Doing this for 3-5 companies can cut your bills back by $50 or more per month.
Tip #85: Purchase a coupon book for entertainment
A coupon book is a book that contains hundreds of coupons for different products and events in your area. Consider paying the nominal fee of $10 or $20 to purchase one of these books.
Tip #86: Matinee showings of movies are frequently ½ to 2/3 the price of night showings. Consider switching your movie viewing times to save money.
Tip #87: Buy plane tickets far in advance
In general, the further you purchase plane tickets in advance, the cheaper they will be. So don’t wait until the last moment.
Tip #88: Don’t accept quoted hotel prices. Instead, try to bargain
Hotels are often willing to bargain if you’re willing to ask. So don’t stay silent unless you want to pay extra.
Tip #89: Get dental work done by dental students
Dental schools are often willing to perform dental work for cheap or at a discounted rate. Consider getting work done there, rather than at a dentist.
Tip #90: Make an extra mortgage payment each year
Paying your mortgage off sooner, rather than later, can save you a considerable amount in interest payments.
Tip #91: Avoid credit cards with annual fees
Don’t get credit cards that have annual fees. Instead, look only for cards that are free to hold and use, as long as you pay off your balance entirely.
Tip #92: Don’t get rental car insurance
Rental car insurance is often not worth it. Instead, simply use your own insurance.
Tip #93: Weatherproof your home
By weatherproofing your home, you can significantly decrease your heating and cooling costs in the long run.
Tip #94: Purchase textbooks used on half.com
Use sites like half.com to purchase used textbooks at a sharp discount (if you are a student).
Tip #95: Take advantage of free financial counseling services
Many non-profit organizations offer free financial counseling services. Take advantage of these if possible.
Tip #96: Take advantage of local libraries
Instead of buying books, videos, and CDs, borrow them from your local library.
Tip #97: Take advantage of parks
Going to a park is a good alternative to more expensive forms of entertainment.
Tip #98: Send away for rebates
When you purchase a product that comes with a rebate, send away for it.
Tip #99: By generic OTC medications, rather than purchasing the brand name versions.
When purchasing over-the-counter medication, get generic versions, rather than name brands. They are chemically identical, but cheaper.
Tip #100: Take advance of employer pension and investment matching programs
Many employers will match your 401(k) or other investment contributions. Take advantage of these programs by putting a larger portion of your income directly into your investment account.
Tip #101: Increase your insurance deductible
Increasing your auto insurance deductible will significantly reduce the premium you pay on a monthly basis.
Tip #102: Do teeth-whitening at home with store-bought products, rather than paying for professional services
Rather than paying for professional teeth-whitening services, purchase a store at a convenience store and use it at home. This can save you hundreds of dollars and produce comparable results.
Tip #103: Make use of dollar stores
While much of the inventories of dollar stores are frivolous items, some things are truly useful. Look for these items and save.
Tip #104: Avoid taking out home equity loans
Home equity loans are a good way to ensure that you never pay off your mortgage and never own your home. Unless you need to take one out to cover medical bills or something similarly important, do not get one.
Tip #105: Shut the water off while you brush your teeth
Saving water can reduce your utility bills. So next time you brush your teeth, remember to shut off the water, rather than letting it run.
Tip #106: Spend less time in the shower
Tip #107: Use rechargeable batteries
Instead of constantly buying new batteries, purchase rechargeable batteries, which will last for many cycles.
Tip #108: If you have a young child, use cloth diapers
If you have a young child, consider using cloth diapers, rather than plastic diapers to save on costs.
You’ve now read 108 tips for living frugally, saving your money, making more money, and investing your money wisely. Only you know which of these tips can transform your life, and which are best ignored.
So keep this document close, choose your tips selectively and wisely; and then actually stick to advice on the tip once you have decided to follow it.
When it comes to making good personal finance decisions, a plan is important. But the plan alone will not get you to your destination without clean execution, hard work, and tough decisions.
And with that, I leave you to grow your wealth, to achieve financial security, and to become happy with your life and your decisions.