Wednesday, February 3, 2010

20 Ways I've Climbed My Way {almost} Out of $14,000 Debt.

This could be an inspirational post, or this could be a "wow, that Canadian Girl is one cheap B**tch post".  However you take it, I hope my tips help at least one other person either get out of debt or stay out of debt forever.

1.)  Make a budget and stick to it.  I live on $70 per week.  I write everything down and make myself accountable for everything I spend.  I think the accountability is what counts.  There's something to be said for seeing your money waste away as you write it down.

2.)  Pay off and pair down credit cards.  Your credit card is an aid, not a crutch.  Limit yourself to just the "essential" credit cards (for some, it's just one visa, for some it's a visa, mastercard and amex, or combination thereof).  Having too many will make it too hard to keep track of your spending, even if you write it down.

3.)  Exclude all frivolous spending.  This is relative, yes.  But for me, this included pairing down my entertainment budget, not eating out, and most importantly, separating my needs from my wants.

4.)  Consolidate all of your debt to 1 spot.  For me, this came in the form of a personal line of credit.  PC Financial had the best rate; make sure you shop around.  As opposed to credit card interest rates, this gives you a significant interest rate decrease and allows you to track your payments in one place.  Essentially, it's a "one-stop-shop".

5.)  Have a coin/bill jar.  This is where I put my coins - not only does it make my wallet weigh less, but it serves as a little extra to put towards my debt each month.  I also put my bills in here when I'm under budget each week. I count it up once a month, and apply that lump sum to my debt.

6.)  Clip coupons.  It may be pennies in savings, but those coins get added to the coin jar and help me knock down my debt.

7.)  Have a personal "no spend" challenge.  For me, this is 3 days a week, or 12 a month.  This adds up and allows me to come in under budget more often than not.

8.)  Use up everything you have before you buy new.  So simple, but this is a great way to save money.  You'd be surprised how many people won't look thru their cupboards and containers before they hop out to the store to buy a replacement.  This has been great for me - look at it this way: I haven't bought shampoo for over a year and a half.  Think of the savings there alone.

9.)  Take tips from tv, magazines and perhaps other PF bloggers, and repurpose them to fit your lifestyle.  I can't take credit for any of the above or below tips; they've all come - in one way or another - from a different source than just my plain ol' noggen.  For example, instead of Gail Vaz Oxlade's jars, I use a simple sheet of paper {1 for each "expense" column - transportation, food etc} and staple them all together.  This is a portable way to use the jar system, but works in the same fashion.

10.)  Utilize your credit card for big purchases (or small ones) for the cash back or points value but ONLY when you've saved up or have the money to make the purchase in the first place.  Again, this is simple and a sure way to keep from spending out of your means.

11.)  Don't order alcohol when eating out.  Have you seen the price of a glass of wine?  I can get the bottle for $2 more.  'nuff said.

12.)  Don't eat out or go out to clubs or bars unless there's a special occasion.  We have to do everything in moderation AND have a social life.  You'll go crazy if you don't.  However, you'll go crazy if you're a party animal but saddled with debt.  Find the happy medium and budget for nights out.

13.)  Bring your lunch to work daily.  I estimate that I save roughly $6/day, and allow myself to eat out once a week.  So, I save $24, if you consider a 4 day no-food-spending week.  Say you work 50 weeks a year, this adds up to $2,500 in savings.  I also drink the office water, and avoid expensive pop or bottled water.

14.)  Repurpose wherever possible.  My furniture is all my parents' old stuff, just re-finished and touched up with some modern paint and decor.  Easy as pie, and with a little TLC and about $50, I had a whole condo of furniture.  I reuse bags as garbage liners and go "shopping" in my closet.  I love clothes, but I also love the treasures I find in my closet when I mix and match new with old.  The most prime example here is my iPod Mini.  Yes, I still own one.  When it broke, instead of buying a new one for $200, I bought a new battery for $30.  I popped out the old and replaced it myself.  Voila!

15.)  Pick up change.  Yes, this may be gross, but every little bit helps.  Plus, picking up pennies is supposed to bring you good luck! 

16.)  Borrow books from the library.  I want new books as soon as they come out, but the average cost for a new book is about $20.  I could just as easily put myself on the hold list at my local library and have the book for free.  With a little time and patience, I have $20 more for my debt that I would've foregone.

17.)  Limit magazine purchases.  I LOVE magazines; the shiny pictures, the gossip, the stories.  BUT, this was a huge budget spend item for me.  By skipping and limiting the magazines to only special treats, I am able to save lots of money.  I ask for magazines for gifts, or I do magazine swaps with my friends.  Half the time, I'm able to find the main articles on the internet anyway.  Oh, and when I do buy magazines, I get a bargain: WalMart gives you 10% off the cover price.

18.)  Buy non-perishable items in bulk.  This allows for long term savings over the course of a few months.  For me, I buy gum in bulk packages.  It's not something that goes stale quickly, so I just make sure to label when I purchase the gum.  I chew at least 3 pieces a day, so going thru it is never a problem.

19.)  Save stamps.  How often do you get a letter anymore?  It's rare, I'll admit it.  But when I do, and the stamp isn't cancelled, I always cut it out.  I use it the next time I have to send something in, like my tax bill, for instance.  It may be 57 cents, but it's 57 cents in my pocket.

20.)  Make money wherever you can.  Now now, don't go taking to the pole or investing in a street pharmacy.  That's not what I'm talking about.  Do cash for surveys online, or use Swagbucks as your search engine.  Once you hit 70, you can get $5 USD in your PayPal account just for doing searches you would've done anyway.  It's not much, but you can see my motto here: every little bit helps.

Well, there you have it Lovers.  My relatively simple and easy to do tips for getting and staying out of debt.  If you want a copy of the sheet that I use to track my daily spending {a la Jars o'Gail}, drop me a line and I will send it to you.

What tips do you have to add?


*Canadian Girl



  1. Thanks for this list of tips! I think they were all wonderful tips! :) Not a "cheap ass bitch" post at all... ;) LOL!!! I like your blog.. gonna add you to my blogroll, hope that's ok!

  2. Where do you find those cash for survey things? Are they legit and actually pay? I have never heard of swagbucks.

    I just found your site through halfdozendaily and I love it!