Two days until payday and a ton of bills are due today.
You drop a breakfast bowl and scare the baby. Your ten year old tells you everybody has to bring $5 today for a school project.
The other kids need lunch money. You need coffee and a bandit to go scrounge some cash.
Your heavy-duty thought is how to pay the bills. The more you think about it the more you hate,hate, hate your oppressing debt.
Yes, you know exactly what caused it — some of it was necessary (school and work clothes); and some was just pure impulse buying.
You know the why; now you need the fix.
You believe there is always a way but today it had damn better be manageable.
Not to worry. You can practice two simple ways to bust debt:
- Pay your bills as you can.
- Pay your bills and make easy lifestyle changes so you’re not repeating the debt cycle.
Remember it’s the little things that make a difference.
Here are 20 simple ways to help do it.
1. Create a capsule wardrobe.
Ten good pieces can turn into thirty outfits and you will be beautifully outfitted for a long time. You’re ahead because you already have countless accessories and some of the basics.
2. Plan periodic surprises.
A special dinner, a new dish, a great dessert, all for no reason at all. You’re a source of life’s little pleasures so celebrate but do it at home and not in some overpriced restaurant.
3. Use online grocers.
They’ll deliver (mine also puts groceries on the counter) and you can cut out all that impulse buying that shocked you last month.
4. Stay hydrated.
You can think better and also prevent that charge to Quick Care for your vicious headache. They always seem to ask if you’re drinking enough water. Head them off at the pass.
5. Sign up for Automatic Payments.
Pay as many bills as possible online. No late fees and you won’t have bills all over your counters reminding you of one more thing to do. You can also change their due dates so they’ll be paid on payday before you get a chance to blow it on ‘stuff’.
6. Create Medical Passports.
Save both time and money. These have been invaluable since I created mine over fifteen years ago. Create a folder for each member of your family. I use plastic file envelopes that close with clasps so nothing falls out when I’m in a hurry.
Include insurance information, names and numbers of medical/dental providers, allergies, current medications, and especially immunizations.
Put them in one place only so you can grab them in 60 seconds. You will not waste precious minutes looking for the information.
They’re vital in emergencies, hospitalizations, and school registrations plus you won’t have to drive to the providers’ offices to pick up copies saving you sanity, gas, and the cost of duplicating the records.
7. Set up a file for tax deductions.
Create a file or large envelope for anything you can deduct at tax time. Donation receipts, business expenses, etc. In April it’s ready for your CPA and you won’t miss valuable deductions.
8. Use a flash drive or external backup.
I know. You love the cloud but when, not if, your computer fails you can handle it without calling that expensive geek. Besides, you can still keep using the cloud but now you create another layer of money-saving protection.
9. Keep your cell phone for a longer period.
You won’t really miss the new doodads or pretty colors because now you’re focused on saving big coins, like hundreds of dollars.
10. Keep your car four or more years.
Keeping up with anybody is not an option when you’re wanting to vaporize debt. Tell everybody you’re growing an antique.
11. Create a Resource List.
This list is mainly for your maintenance people — plumbers, electricians, appliance repairmen, baby sitters, mechanics. I spent 40 minutes one day creating the list and calling them for additional information and their business cards. I emphasized they’re on my preferred list.
When I needed them,they came saving me the extra money and stress an inexperienced , off duty, grumpy person would have charged me.
12. Assign a regular place for chore lists (family assignments).
Every family member can help save on household, yard, and car chores so you don’t have to pay an outsider. Don’t say they don’t have time. Everyone has 24 hours every single day.
13. Quit buying so many cleaning supplies.
In spite of all the advertising you only need the basics and your kids won’t be in danger of accidental poisoning. Double edged savings.
14. Simplify gift giving.
Stay within your well planned budget. No need to impress your family and friends with extravagance. They either love you or hate you. If they love you they’ll appreciate even a simple consumable. If they hate you why bother?
15. Examine your adult life.
What simple things make you happy? Make a list. Do them. Happy is good. Now, what are you wasting money on? You know what to do.
16. Learn to tune out ads and coupons.
These two are simply marketing ploys to aid sales. Don’t go whole hog tightwad but use your money for your needs, not the store’s.
17. Maintain your car.
That last repair bill set you back all because you felt too busy to go for mere maintenance. One simple oil change will save a lot of monetary grief and you can always catch up on your goals and ideas while you wait.
18. Learn to say ‘no’.
You don’t have to do, buy, or attend something that’s going to be rough on your budget because you don’t like to say that little word. Your friends won’t mind and the others don’t matter.
19. Base your budget on needs and debt reduction.
The wants need to get in line. Don’t worry. It’s temporary until your debt is demolished.
20. Get an accountability partner.
If your mate and friends are spendthrifts then get an imaginary friend who’ll tell you, “Are you crazy, put that back.”
Put your new ideas to work.
So now relax. Get the kids off to school. Go to work. You have a mini plan. On your break call the bills that are due today. Most of the time they’ll give you a few days.
Then you can adjust your budget and work on at least three savings on this list when you get home.
You’ll find a little spring in your step because you are moving forward. Yes, they may be little steps and they’re not instant but it’s faster than overcoming bankruptcy.
Once your new habits become routine you and your family will experience less stress, discover new adventures, and will be better able to ride out some storms simply because you prepared.
Go get ’em, mama.