Archive for the ‘breaking free of debt’ Category

1) Cutting Back on Wal-mart. While there are great savings to be had at Wal-mart, there is also a great potential for abusing your wallet.  We used to visit Wal-mart three or more times a week, and it seemed like every time we visited Wally Mart my wallet vomited money (not a pretty picture..but just be glad I didn’t go with the diarrhea analogy).    So many cheap things that only cost $1 here or $3 dollars there, add it all up and it amounted to spending anywhere from $45 to $225 per trip.   Between implementing shopping lists and recognizing that I am the impulsive buyer in the family (and taking steps to address that weakness) we have significantly lowered what we spend at Wal-mart each month.

  • Previous Spending = $600
  • New Spending = $275
  • Savings = $325 ($3900 annual savings)

2) Cutting the Cable Cord.  Between Hulu.com and Netflix, there is no reason to hang on to cable anymore.

  • Previous Spending – $26
  • New Spending = $0
  • Savings = $26 ($312 annual savings)

3) Eating IN.  We were spending so much money on eating out it was ridiculous.  Even the local pizza place cost $22 for three people to eat a large pizza, three sodas, and a small side of garlic knots.  Some months our dining out habit cost us $200/month.  But usually we spend about $125 between local pizza places, McDonald’s, etc.

  • Previous Spending = $125
  • New Spending = $20
  • Savings = $105 ($1260 annual savings)

4) No More Phone Bills.  Well we do get phone bills, but we cut our long distance service on our land line and we only use MagicJack for long distance calls.

  • Previous Spending = $49
  • New Spending = $21
  • Savings = $28 ($336 annual savings)

5) Staying at the Pump. One of the biggest surprises in reviewing our spending habits was discovering how much money we wasted at gas station convenience stores.   Buying a pack a soda and a small package of beef jerky might only cost $3.50 each time, but added up over a month it totals about $30.   So pay by credit card, stay at the pump, pack your travel snacks- and store a few non-perishable extras in the glove compartment for when you forget to pack a snack one day.

  • Previous Spending = $30
  • New Spending = $0
  • Savings = $30 ($360 annual savings)

…The Results…

  • Wal-mart   $325
  • TV                 $  26
  • Eating In    $105
  • Phone         $28
  • Convenience Store Spending  $30
  • TOTAL SAVINGS/MONTH = $514 ($6,168 annual savings)

Some of these budget cuts won’t work for you, and that is fine.  We each have different spending habits and our budgets hemorrhage cash depending on our own impulses, weaknesses, tastes, etc.   When you review you spending habits (write down EVERYTHING you spend even a penny on for a month and review your bank statements from the past) you will see the areas where you’re spending beyond your means or wasting funds.  It’s not as hard as you might think and making these changes isn’t all that painful either.  Please feel free to post additional ideas on cutting budget or your own success stories when it comes to budget cutting in the comments section.

    For your enjoyment and benefit, the following is a brief reference guide to help you learn the importance of avoiding debt, how to save (regardless of your income), and and how to save painlessly (and for the masochists- painfully).  (more…)

    Well, what are my blogging plans for the next month or so (at least the highlights)…

    First, I will be writing three posts for StraighttotheBar.com.  [Click on the link now and see a video a guy bending a wrench].  Most likely the posts will be entitled:

    “Eliminating the Lug Nuts: How to Find a Good Trainer.”

    “The Power of the Negative.”

    “Visualization: No Longer just for New Age Hippies.”

    Much to my wife’s chagrin over at Musings, Rants, and Monologues I will be posting on my recent quest to build the perfect minority.  Trust me, it will be both offensive, sophomoric, and politically incorrect to the 1,000 degree.

    And right here on this, my main blog, I will be posting on my recent struggles with food, our upcoming travels, getting a handle on credit card debt (our experience), and the kind of things you do to start a mental transformation that can keep pace with your physical transformation.  See you later!

    Well I wanted to post on money saving investments today, and all I could come up with was one idea.  So I will share my one idea and in return I hope you guys share some ideas on investments that will save money in the long term.

    Buy a Freezer:  Who hasn’t been frustrated by the inability of their freezer to adequately contain the fruits of a trip to the grocery store?  And when meat goes on sale, a rare occurrence, it is a great idea to scoop up as much as possible (and reasonable).    For example, our local grocery store occasionally puts 3 lb bags of chicken breast on sale for $3.50 each.  The usual price is 7.99-8.99 per bag.

    Now, if you owned an individual freezer unit you would have somewhere to put that discount meat- not to mention pastries, frozen veggies, and frozen fruits.

    How much can you save with this idea?  Well let’s just take the chicken example.   My family goes through three bags a month (sometimes four).  At $8.50 per bag the cost over the year is $306, while the the cost at $3.50 per bag is less than $130 per year.  A savings of  $176 dollars over the year.  And that is JUST the chicken.

    Now I know there are some costs associated with this.  For example electricity to run the unit.   But, to the best of my knowledge, once the unit is full it is relatively inexpensive to run- as the frozen goods in a packed refrigerator allow the unit to use less electricity than an empty freezer.

    So what are your ideas?

    We took the big plunge and cut up all but two of our credit cards.  I won’t cancel the accounts, as doing such could seriously hurt our credit score.  But since the cards are cut up I won’t be able to use them- at least not on the spur of the moment.  The two we saved not only had the lowest interest rates, but both offered rewards (one based on redeemable points, and the other based on cash back).

    From here we will pay down one of the cards we saved (as it has the lowest balance) and use it ONLY for gas so we can easily track how much we spend on gas each month.  The gas card will be paid in full at the end of each month, within the cards grace period for interest charges.  The other will be for emergencies (like car repairs that savings won’t cover).

    So why don’t you take this step today too!  Cut up all but one or two cards.  If you can’t bear cutting them up, drop them into some Tupperware filled with water and put the Tupperware into the freezer.  At least that will keep them out of site, out of mind, and most importantly- out of your wallet.