As the month of August wraps up and the days are finally getting a wee bit cooler I’ve been reflecting on the summer. Since beginning this “Getting Out of Debt” journey a few months ago I’ve paid off thousands in credit card debt and I feel truly, for the first time in my life, in control of my money. Let me tell you, it feels amazing!
As promised, this month I want to share six actions that I’ve taken to save a whole latta money this summer! These are not your typical “buy in bulk” type tricks. I find that advice doesn’t get to the root of the problem. These tips dive deeper, so grab your snorkel and goggles because here we go!
1. Shift Your Mindset
This one will take some work. However, shifting my perspective around finances has been the most important part of this journey.
First off, I journal, a lot, in order to get clear on my financial goals. Since my financial goals extend directly from my life goals I ask myself, “What does my ideal life look like? What does my ideal life feel like?” The answer comes to me quickly. I want to be completely debt free and make more than enough money to travel the world. Specifically I want to pay off my credit cards, pay off my student loans, and develop location independent income so that I can make money as I travel. I set a time frame for each of these goals, and make a realistic plan to reach them.
Once your goals are set get excited! Like, dancing around the room excited! You are on track to living your dream life! Each time you think about buying something ask yourself, “Is this how I want to spend my money?” You are in control. For example, I almost always choose to forgo buying more clothes, no matter how great the sale is, because I’d rather use that $50 to spend a couple more days abroad!
Another big part of this mindset shift has been to accept that I have everything I need to survive, to thrive, right now. That brings me to point #2.
2. Stop Buying Stuff
When I excitedly tell my close friends how quickly I’m paying off my credit card debt they inevitably ask, “How do you do it.” My very honest answer is always, “I stopped buying stuff.” This answer is typically met with a chuckle and an eye roll. Yes, it’s stupidly simple, but that’s the beauty of it! I have just strait up stopped buying stuff. Since starting to track my finances (see point 3) I have realized that so much of my money is wasted on totally unnecessary things.
For instance, a few months ago if I walked by one of my favorite clothing stores and they were having a sale I’ll go in and buy something. Just a t-shirt, a pair of earrings, or a skirt here and there. But those little things, they add up. Quickly. Yes, I could be better dressed, but the truth was that the clothes I had were totally fine. I didn’t need new clothes, I was just seduced by the sale signs!
We are constantly bombarded with advertisements trying to convince us that what we have, what we look like, or what we do is not good enough. ALL THE TIME! Especially walking around New York City. I’ve simply stopped paying attention to these advertisements. I no longer buy magazines or watch commercials. They no longer have control over me. When I see an advertisement telling me I “must have” the latest and greatest product I think to myself, “That’s a lie,” and I walk away.
I do, of course, still buy things from time to time. Girl’s gotta eat and have her fun. But now I make informed decisions about my spending and I know exactly where my money is going. That’s where point #3 comes in.
3. Track Your Spending
Track every penny. As the saying goes, what you measure you can change. In order to save more money (or pay off debt) we have to first know exactly where our money is going. I carry around one of those little .99 cent composition notebooks in my hand bag. After every single purchase I write down the date, the amount, and the type of purchase. When I spend $1.12 on a chocolate bar from CVS I get out my pen and notebook and write down the exact amount before leaving the store. Then I review and learn from this information during my “Money Love Days!”
4. Schedule “Money Love Days”
Every two weeks (on or as close to payday as possible) I sit down with my little money tracking notebook and my online bank account summaries. I schedule these “Money Love Days” into my calendar like any other appointment. After inputting that period’s spending into a budgeting spreadsheet that I’ve created on google docs, I compare what I’ve spent to my financial goals.
Looking at my bank account used to be incredibly stressful, but now I look forward to these days! I love seeing how much money I have “left over” from each paycheck. Then, I put a pre-determined portion of my money towards savings and credit cards. Seeing that credit card balance go down every couple weeks feels so good!
5. Make it Visual
I am a very visual person, so creatively depicting my decreasing debt, and placing that visual some where prominent (on my fridge) has kept my momentum up! I drew a fun, pretty picture with monetary milestones that I color in as I get closer and closer to paying off each portion of my debt. Just last week I paid off my second to last credit card! Coloring in the last bit of that drawing and seeing that I only have one card to go was incredibly motivating.
However, this journey is not always candy and roses. We must always remember, last but not least, point #6.
6. Be Patient with Yourself
Be endlessly patient with yourself. Shit happens. Unexpected expenses will come up. You will look at your student loan (or other debt) and feel despair from time to time. There will be moments when you’ll want to throw in the towel. But, at the end of the day I know, you know, that working hard to get out of debt is worth it. Let’s get this done.
We have dreams to follow!
And there you have it! Six of the most important actions that have helped me to pay off thousands of dollars in credit card debt this summer. I hope you find these helpful.
I’d love to hear your money saving tips in the comments below!