Where there is there is fire, there is smoke- where there is temptation, there is debt. The fact of the matter is that money can burn a hole in a man’s pocket long before fire can. For many, staying debt-free is right at the top of our priority list with finding a compatible spouse and not forgetting how to breathe. Despite all the attention we devote to saving money and evading debt, many of us fail. I am by no means a rich man- seeing as how I’m bringing down only freelance writer money. By adhering to some simple ground rules and precautions I’ve managed to avoid the ravages of debt. Such as…
1. Limit yourself to one!
The first and possibility best suggestion is to limit yourself to one credit card. For some this will come across as unthinkable. There are those that insist upon paying with plastic no matter where they are. This is a psychological issue that haunts many. The fact is, you’re not physically giving anything when you pay with a credit card. Instead you are simply letting them slide your card. Do yourself a favor, limit yourself to a single Visa Discover card.
2. Paper, not plastic.
Speaking of psychological tools, one I’ve effectively utilized on myself is what I call the paper method. By always paying in cash when applicable, I mentally associate the price outcome with the bills I’m handing over- as opposed to the disassociation that occurs when a credit card or check is used. You’ll realize quickly what can go back on the shelf when its tens and twenties you’re losing.
3. At least once a week…
Food can get expensive, but we all have to eat. One great money saving tool is to select one day a week to eat a heavily budgeted three meals. Canned goods, noodles, a sandwich- save some money by eating inexpensively.
There was a time when every sitcom dad had to plan his family’s budget. This usually took place just when junior wanted a new baseball bat or the eldest daughter wanted a new dress. Nowadays people have almost completely dropped planning their budgets. It helps a great deal to prepare for your monthly costs.
5. One trip!
Some people make the mistake of grocery shopping several times a week. This not only eats up gas, extra commodity funds, and potential coupons- but also opens yourself to temptation. Try to limit yourself to one main grocery trip a week.
6. Ask yourself!
Before you make any purchase, always ask yourself… “Do I need this?” Usually once you admit to yourself that your 18” RCA is fine and that you don’t need a 72” Samsung, you’ll be much happier and debt-free.
7. Repair, don’t replace!
Obviously this does not always apply, but more often than not it is much cheaper to fix something than it is to replace. Why dig yourself into a $400 hole getting a new laptop when a $85 repair might be all you need?
8. Buy used.
This is a lesson many gamers have learned over the years and has translated to other avenues of life. The fact is- a used car, a pre-owned computer, or secondhand clothing are all just as good as their counterparts.
9. Use alternatives!
Don’t fall for the hype, the generics are just as good as the name brands! The only difference? They have more advertising money. Cut your grocery bill in half- stick to the alternative brands.
10. Pay on time.
Let’s be realistic- there are going to be times when you’re in debt. The trick is, don’t stay under for too long. Pay on time- don’t fall prey to late fees or years of interest piling up against you. Don’t ask to be ‘billed later’, pay your debts as soon as you can afford to.