In some cases, debt can be a powerful tool to help you get an education or move into a home in a safe neighborhood. Of course, it can also be an anchor, weighing you down and limiting your options. After talking with many clients who face similar challenges, we can offer advice in the form of some steps that you can take to take back control over your finances and your life.
Little expenses add up to big ones
While you may love your morning coffee, you could easily spend $5.00 or more for each specialty brew ordered on the way to work.
Let’s look at some actual numbers. How much does it cost per 12 ounce cup to make coffee at home? One 12 ounce bag of Starbucks ground coffee from a grocery store costs around $ 8.00 when it’s not on sale.
- Number of 12 ounce cups you can brew per bag (approximately) 17 = $0.47 per cup
- Extras like half and half and sugar, approximately $0.15
- Other costs like storage, acquisition, etc., let’s add another $.05 per cup
Total cost of one 12 ounce cup of homemade Starbucks coffee = 67 cents per cup
Compared to the $4.95 you spend at your local coffee shop, you would save something like $4.28 per drink.
Now let’s take it a step further. What if you indulged your caffeine habit three times per week, or 12 drinks per month? That would total around $50 per month. What if you invested that money instead of drank it?
Start this month with zero dollars invested. Add $50 per month for 20 years at a below-stock-market rate of 8% interest and you’d end up with…
That’s enough for a nice new car, and you still get home-brewed fresh coffee every day from home!
It’s not just coffee
There are quite a few other little things that add up over time. Consider the fact that a soft drink with a meal at most establishments is over $2.00 per serving. Good old H2O is $0. Consider the memberships you don’t use, subscriptions you don’t need— do you have a subscription to Hulu AND Netflix? And you rent the occasional flick from Amazon or iTunes? There are some corners to cut there.
- Don’t buy name brands all the time
- Don’t impulse buy at the checkout line
- Buy in bulk or look for buy-on-get-one sales.
By making your food and coffee at home, you can save significant sums of money each month. It may also be possible to save money by renting movies at the library or from a kiosk as opposed to visiting a movie theater.
Get debt free by sticking to a budget
A budget is a great way to track how much money is being spent on food, entertainment and housing. By knowing exactly how much you spend, it can be easier to make changes that help you live within your means. There are lots of helpful tools online to keep you on track. Banks WANT you to save so they can use your money for loans to other people and companies!
Get debt free by reigning in your credit card use
One of the easiest ways to get into debt is to pay for pricey items with a credit card. You’ll get into trouble with these short-term loans from the bank at sky-high interest rates for the privilege of buying it now and paying it off later.
Did you know that the minimum payments you make every month go mostly toward the accumulated interest you owe while leaving the principal balance (the actual amount you borrowed) untouched? While you’ll still have to repay any balance already accrued on a card, getting rid of it means that you can’t put any new debt on the card.
Let’s say you have a balance of $5000 on a credit card and decide to stop charging things and pay it off by sending in $100 per month. Here’s where that goes:
It would take you ten years to pay it off at a total cost of $6986.28. That’s almost $2000 more you owe on top of the original $5000 you put on the card. Yuck!
There are quite a few cards with cash back offers and other nice rewards, but if you can’t pay off the entire amount you use every month, it’s best to steer clear.
Good and Bad Debt
Student, home and vehicle loans are generally considered to be good debts. This is because the have low interest rates and relatively flexible repayment terms. Credit cards, payday loans and similar types of debts are considered bad debts because they have high interest rates. Therefore, it is a good idea to pay off the credit card or payday loan prior to paying off a mortgage or auto loan.
Getting control of your finances can be easier than you think. By cutting back on expenses, you may be able to find money to pay down credit card or other debt balances that come with high interest rates. That may allow you to put an end to creditor collection calls and focus more on creating a stronger financial future.
Find out more about being debt free in our guide: All About Debt Relief
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The Law Office of Barbara B. Braziel helps people get out of debt. We offer free consultations to people of Savannah, GA and the surrounding areas, including Richmond Hill, Hinesville, Pooler, Port Wentworth, Tybee Island, Clyo, Ellabel, Midway, Ludowici, Springfield, Pembroke, Brooklet, and Garden City.
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
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