Steps to Reducing Your Debt
By Brenner Spiller & Archer, LLP | January 24, 2018
In the event that you may need to file bankruptcy to find a way out of debt, we’re always here to help. But before you decide on bankruptcy, there may be other ways to manage your finances and reduce your debt.
These are easy (and sometimes quick) ways to lower monthly bills, organize your spending, and use the money you already own to pay off some of your debt.
Track Your Spending
The easiest way to discover where your money is going is to track your spending for a month or two, or longer if you’re able. You may find an unknown bill for a service you don’t use anymore or that you’re spending more than you think on non-essential commodities.
Even $1 purchases can add up if you’re making them every day. Go into your bank account and download your spending history or write down every bill and purchase compared to your income. You may be surprised what you find.
Reassess Your Bills
In today’s digital age, automatic payments are easy ways to forget exactly what you’re spending money on. Some bills may have made sense a year ago, but now you don’t use that service. Or some bills may include add-ons that can be removed until you want to use them again. Consider these:
Reduce cell phone bill. Take a look at how much data you use each month. If it’s far less than the data plan below yours, make the switch.
Find lower-priced services. If the quality of some things isn’t incredibly important to you, find an alternative. This could apply to where you get your haircut, where you buy your groceries,
Ditch the add-ons. If your cable package includes 300 channels but you only use 10 of them (or none, as more Americans are finding), change your cable plan.
Shop around. Compare pricing for things like internet and insurance If another company offers the same service at a lower cost, it’s an easy decision.
More Groceries, Less Restaurants
Do you pack your own lunch or purchase a meal every day during work? Homemade meals are considerably less expensive than purchased meals because at restaurants, fast food stops, and coffee shops, you’re not just paying for the consumable – you’re paying for the service, the store, their electricity, etc.
A cup of coffee from behind a counter can cost two, three, four or more dollars every day (which adds up to $40 to $80 a month) while brewing your own coffee at home is usually about $0.75 per cup.
Purchasing a lunch can run you anywhere from $5 to $15 or more per day ($120 to $300 a month!), but a filling, nutritious packed lunch can cost you $3 or less.
This takes a little more planning but can save you thousands each year in living costs. If you’re in a five-bedroom house but only have three people in your family, consider a move to a smaller home, especially if you rarely use those extra rooms (not including for storage).
If your apartment’s rent costs $1700 each month, but your debt isn’t going away anytime soon, look around for a less expensive apartment. A $900-per-month place can save you almost $10,000 per year!
Need vs. Want
In the end, you need to determine what is a “need” and what is a “want.” Healthy groceries like milk, bread, veggies, and meats are needs, while candy bars, soda pop, and a $25 tub of ice cream are wants.
A structurally sound roof over your head is necessary, but a three-story home for one person is something that can wait until you’re financially sound. Transportation is important, but a $70,000 convertible should only be purchased if you have the funds.
If nothing else, live by this simple, easy-to-follow rule: Don’t buy stuff you cannot afford.