This article was written by The Zebra.
Money is scarcer than ever amid the pandemic, and personal debt remains a major concern for many Americans. All money management sites encourage you to find ways to pay off debt, but it can be easier said than done if you are just trying to make ends meet. With that in mind, there are a few ways that you can free up money to help pay off your debts.
Delve deep into your finances
First things first, you should take a close look at your money and see where it’s going. In other words, you need to create a budget. This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you don’t have a budget, you are not alone: only about 40% of Americans use a budget, although almost everyone agrees they need one.
Even if you’ve never had a budget before, don’t waste time feeling bad about yourself – and don’t be afraid to take a steadfast look at your finances. There are many free software tools that can help you.
Change to a cheaper area
This option is definitely not for everyone. If you’re broke and just struggling to keep the lights on, you likely won’t be able to pack up your things and find a new place to live elsewhere. However, if you are stable enough to find yourself in a position where you can focus more on paying off debt, moving to a cheaper area can be of great help.
Moving could mean cheaper housing costs, less money on groceries and utilities, maybe even transportation, depending on where you’re moving to. You have to do some research, of course, and key in the numbers, but the end result could save you a lot in the long run.
Cut out the grocery bills
Groceries are something none of us can do without – but it is possible to cut your grocery bills significantly without exclusively eating rice and beans.
The first thing most people will tell you is to stop eating out and ordering, which is a good place to start. You can also cut your grocery budget with online coupons, shop in bulk, sign up for loyalty programs that offer member savings, and much more. You can also search the internet for cheap, tasty recipes and learn to make a new dish while saving money.
Take advantage of discounts
Finding discounts isn’t just for your grocery trips, either. Take the time to find and use discounts wherever you can. Consume these unused gift cards. Talk to your internet and utility company about a cheaper rate. Find car insurance discounts and speak to your student loan provider. If you have college or senior discounts at the places you shop, don’t be afraid to ask! Every little bit can get you closer to being debt free.
Sell your stuff
Selling your products to make extra cash is a time honored tradition, and thanks to the internet, there are more opportunities to sell than ever before. You don’t have to resort to the swap exchange or the yard sale – you can list your items anywhere from Amazon to eBay and Etsy to the Facebook Marketplace. It can take a bit of work and you may need to keep an eye out for scammers, but some people have made entire careers selling their unwanted items online … there’s no reason you can’t either.
Cars are expensive: fuel, insurance, and maintenance cost money. If you live in an area where you can walk, ride a bike, or use public transportation, you can put a little more money away by doing so instead of driving. Not only do you save money in the short term, but your car also lasts longer thanks to less wear and tear.
Find other ways to save
A close relative of the hunt for discounts is finding cheaper interest rates elsewhere – for example, when talking to your bank to negotiate lower interest rates, or when considering whether you can waive bank fees. If those negotiations don’t work out, maybe you can simply switch to a toll-free bank or credit union and make your life easier Good than cheaper.
You can also save money by canceling or downgrading your subscriptions to services and activities. Paying off your nose for a gym subscription? Find a slightly cheaper place. Spending too much on streaming services? Switch to an ad-supported version or cut out the least used for a few months. There are even apps that you can use to find subscriptions and cancel the ones you no longer need or want.
You can also call your carrier to ask for cheaper rates, or just bite the ball and switch to a cheaper provider. Many cellular companies offer important incentives for you to switch, which means you have more cash in your pocket to pay off debts.