Thursday, November 8, 2012

Debt-Free Decorating, Day 3

Today is day three in my mini series about how I became debt-free. As I wrote yesterday, whether you need to pay off a big debt or just want to save for something important like holiday shopping, a remodel, or a down-payment on a bigger house, I hope you'll find something worthwhile in my experience.

Jess Barfield Photography via Style Me Pretty
Besides reading Dave Ramsey's book The Total Money Makeover and listening to his daily radio show, I also read as many other articles and books as I could about money. My philosophy is that the answer can always be found in a book. I learned a lot of great tips, many that I tried to implement into my life, such as:
  • Renegotiate whatever bills you can. I switched my cell phone plan to one that was less expensive (and monitored it closely so I wouldn't go over my minutes). I also changed insurance carriers for home, health, and auto. 
  • Eliminate whatever bills you can, at least for awhile. I like to have a landline in addition to my cell phone, however, it was costing us $70 per month. I canceled the service. Most people can fairly easily cut out their cable bill (I had a contract for satellite service, however, so that wasn't an option for me) and supplement with Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or more frequent trips to the library for DVDs (or books to read!). Gym memberships, newspaper & magazine subscriptions, and salon services are other great places to cut or reduce expenses.
  • Be creative and ask for help. For a few months I cleaned my hairdresser's loft in exchange for haircuts. Yes, those haircuts are worth that much to me! But I began tweezing my own eyebrows and luckily wasn't a regular mani/pedi customer so I could forego those services.
  • Comparison shop for the best price. When you need to buy something, see if you can get it cheaper elsewhere, or even whether something less expensive might work just as well. The internet makes this so much less time-consuming. You can also search for discount codes or coupons that help defray the costs of your purchase.
  • Don't shop. I went to my local Target store the other day and saw that they now have a Starbucks and groceries. It had been nearly eight months since I had been there. I don't think it is a coincidence that I am now debt-free. Especially now that they have Starbucks... If you know your Kryptonite, you can create a strategy to avoid it. 
  • Stay calm and use common sense. Babystep one of the Dave Ramsey plan is to save $1,000 in an emergency fund so when Murphy's law strikes, you're not forced to use a credit card or otherwise go into debt. It's a great idea but I didn't do it. I wasn't going to let anything stop me from my goal, but I knew that if I had to wait to start paying down debt until I had $1,000 saved, I would never do it. I also knew that I could handle (cash flow) any unexpected expenses because I had done it. Last fall I had expensive repairs made to my car, then had to replace two tires a month apart, and paid for it with cash. 
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments. I'll be happy to answer anything!

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Thanks so much for commenting! I love to read what you have to say. ~Carrie


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