We talk a lot about cutting back. It’s easy to talk about cutting frivolous spending or things of no real consequence.
Well…sometimes it’s easy.
You will live without cable, gourmet coffee, or clothing upgrades. You will, trust me.
Unless your debt is small or your income is large, you’ll likely need to make hard choices in order to make significant headway dumping debt and pursing a debt free lifestyle.
BIG debt requires BIG decisions. What are you willing to sacrifice in the short term, so that you can win financially? The following is a representative list – a good place to start when exploring the hard choices necessary for financial growth.
Eddmonds.com has a great comparison of 3 ways to own a car. By far, buying a used car is the most economical way to own a car (over a 10 year period as analyzed). The average new car cost is $31,000 and payments schedules are trending towards 65 months at $460/month. Leasing is hands down the worst option for those on the road to debt freedom. You may need a car. The question is do you need that one?
Are cars a status symbol or mode of transportation? Are you a two car family that can become one? Does your city have reliable public transportation making car ownership an optional luxury? CoupleMoney.com has great tips on paying off your car loan faster.
BIG debt may mean reducing or doing away with a car payment to create debt dumping traction.
Safety is important. The high rent district is not the only safe place in town. If you’re renting, consider moving further away from the city center to bring down costs. You can also downsize bedrooms (make those kids share a room – they’ll live).
Downsizing also cuts utility costs which puts more money in your pocket.
While not always possible, consider moving back home with parents or taking on roommates (or boarders – temporarily) to trim living expenses.
BIG debt may mean you sacrifice image, convenience or space for a while to make big moves toward debt freedom.
At all levels, paying for our children’s education is a sensitive subject. For this post, I’m focusing specfically on pre-college educational expenses. Private school tuition rates vary widely based on location; among other factors. Are you paying private school tuition out of necessity (i.e. no productive public school options anywhere)? Have you really done the research – or have you just decided private school is better?
Every situation is specific. BIG debt suggests you evaluate education spending so that you can give your children a valuable gift of financially stable parents.
Your time – second income stream
If you’ve budgeted and cut and still have no wiggle room, it’s time to look at more money. Begin by looking within your currently employment for promotions or roles with extra responsibility. After which, evaluate your strengths to determine how best to market you skills on the open market. An area that’s growing is online, freelance gigs. Helping business owners run their business is a great way to make extra money.
There’s always traditional brick and mortar side job income. If you’re current income won’t cut it, a side hustle will be required to seriously dump BIG debt.
Kids cost money. However, everything you spend is not required. Are you paying for ballet classes, piano lessons, or sports activities on a tight budget? Look for free or low cost alternatives to your child’s high dollar activities. State or local park districts or school sponsored events are generally much more economical than private enterprises.
Volunteer as a coach or assistant to reduce or waive fees related to your child’s expenses. Older children can take on summer jobs or part-time freelance work themselves to fund their hobbies. Maybe your older children can even barter volunteer hours to cover their fees.
Stop playing with BIG debt. It won’t disappear magically. You’ll need to make hard choices and stick with a plan of attack to make traction and reach your goal of being debt free. Debt freedom is possible.