There are many different types of people in this world and they all handle their finances differently. There are the savers, the penny pinchers, the spenders, the shopaholics, the nickel and dimers, the “I-don’t-carers”, the YOLOs, the FOMOs, the debtors, and the investors. They all have one thing in common; they all think, “Where does all my money go?”
The difference between them is that some of them can answer that question while the others are watching their financial security and early retirement blow away in the wind.
Being able to answer that question is the first step in learning how to become debt-free.
Lessons From a Saver
According to Investopedia, we fall into the “savers” category.
Savers are the exact opposite of big spender. They turn off the lights when leaving the room, close the refrigerator door quickly to keep in the cold, shop only when necessary, and rarely make purchases with credit cards. They generally have no debts and may be viewed as cheapskates.Investopedia
Savers are not concerned about following the latest trends, and they derive more satisfaction from reading the interest on a bank statement than from acquiring something new.
Technically, I already knew that but it was still fun to read!…except the “cheapskates” part. I think that might have been a bit harsh…
P.S. We DO have a credit card and we buy a lot with it each month (necessities only: bills, insurance, gas, groceries, etc.). We pay it IN FULL every month. Why do we do this? Because we like the points we rack up for free cruises! This isn’t for everyone. If you can’t trust yourself with a credit card, DO NOT get one.
What are we saving for?
We have always been savers. Originally, we were saving to pay off the mortgage on our first house. We conquered that then we started saving to buy land and build our dream house debt-free. We conquered that too. Now, we save for our early retirement.
It’s not that I’m scared of spending money or that I have an overly restrictive budget. It’s just that I usually have a bigger long term goal for my money than buying myself the latest and greatest in clothing/gadgets/cars/fill in the blank.Cash Money Life
Some people might put us in the “crazy and radical” category because, back when we were paying off our first and only mortgage, we didn’t even buy meat or cheese… or any other “expensive-ish” foods FOR A YEAR (…among other things).
But, I’ll tell you this, we paid that mortgage off in only 13 months and it felt reeeaaally good to be crazy and radical!
Before you can get out of debt or plan for the future, you first have to figure out where all of your money is going.
This is the first thing we did when we wanted to go full steam ahead toward our debt-free/ mortgage-free life.
If you are a saver, this will be easy for you. If you’re a big spender, grab a notebook and a very sharp pencil.
The best thing you can ever do for your financial future is nail down this big money question:
Where does all my money go?
Make a List of Your Monthly Expenses
How do you do this? It’s simple.
You MUST MUST MUST make a list of EVERY purchase you made for an entire month.
For a lot of us, this is easy because all we have to do is pull up our checking account on our phone and start writing it all down. Or…you could print it. Do people still have printers?? I digress.
Some of you use that green stuff a lot. What is it called?? Oh…cash.
If you use cash often, this exercise will take more time because cash isn’t trackable. What you will need to do is start fresh at the beginning of a month and write down your purchases as you make them.
Be sure to include credit card purchases, utilities, insurance, cell phone bills, gas, etc.
If you go to Sonic during happy hour and get a .99 sweet tea, WRITE IT DOWN. It all adds up, friends.
It doesn’t matter how large (or small) your income is—if you’re not tracking your spending, you’ll never be in control of your money. In fact, you’ll always feel like your money owns you.Dave Ramsey
Listen: Living paycheck to paycheck is the pits. If you’re wondering where all your hard-earned money went each month, it’s time to start tracking it!
You cannot get out of debt or have future financial security if you don’t know what you are spending your money on right now.
Plug Spending Leaks
Now that you have your list, it’s time to decide which of your purchases needs to stop so you can start saving more and paying off debt. Smart About Money calls these things “Spending Leaks.”
Once you see exactly how you spend your money each month, you probably will notice areas where small amounts of money seem to disappear. These are called spending leaks. Examples of spending leaks include buying expensive coffee drinks daily, eating lunch out, and making impulse purchases. While it may not seem like you’re spending much at the time, these leaks can add up to quite a bit of money over a month or year.Smart About Money
Once you’ve identified your spending leaks, you can determine ways to plug them by making small changes in your habits. For example, if you buy lunch at a restaurant or cafeteria every work day, you probably spend at least $10 each time. That adds up to $50 a week, $200 a month, and $2,400 a year. If you weren’t spending this money on lunch, you could use it to help accomplish your life goals, such as paying for your child’s education or your own retirement.
How to Stop Spending Money
Plug as many of those “spending leaks” as you can. Then re-divert that money toward paying off debt (this includes your mortgage, y’all!) and saving for the future.
To help you out, here are 8 Ways to Stop Spending Money:
1. Know What You’re Spending Money OnThe Cure For Excessive Spending
Making and sticking to a budget every single month is what is going to help you get out of debt and stay out of debt.
2. Make Your Budget Work for You
Now, you’re ready to create a monthly spending plan for everything from gas to going out to eat.
3. Shop With a Goal in Mind
After a few impulse buys, a quick trip to the store for a few essentials just got . . . expensive, thanks to a few seemingly harmless purchases. If you often get caught in this scenario, you might want to make a point to avoid the stores that trigger overspending.
4. Stop Spending Money at Restaurants
Changing how you spend money on food is one of the easiest ways to save money. And we all know that going out to eat gets expensive fast. If you’re spending $15 on lunch four times a week, that’s $60 a week—and $240 a month! Imagine how quickly you could pay off debt with that kind of money!
5. Resist Sales
Avoid these shopping traps by making a list before you go! Then, practice some self-discipline once you’re there. If you see an item on sale that isn’t on your list, it wasn’t meant to be.
6. Swear Off Debt
If you’re serious about getting your overspending under control, you have to swear off debt—for good.
7. Delay Gratification
If you’re having trouble sticking to your new budget and shopping list, imagine how you’ll be using that must-have item a month from now.
8. Challenge Yourself to Reach Your New Goals
Put your willpower to the test by buying just the bare necessities for one month. You’ll be amazed by how little you actually need.
Make your list.
Plug the leaks.
Re-divert the money.
Pay off debt.
Stay on track and you’ll be well on your way to this -> “I’m Debt-Free. Now What?
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All the best,