Last fall, I made it ya’ll! I budgeted, I made sacrifices and I struggled. But in the end, I did it. I became debt-free! 🎉 🎉 I paid off over $15k of credit card debt and paid off the last chunk of my $20k student loan debt. 🙌🏾 I have a little saving going on and I finally feel like I’m on track and financially stable. (I’ll be posting more on my debt repayment plan within the next month)
The Downward Spiral of Overspending
Honestly, the pandemic pushed me back into old habits. Spending non-stop. Endless Amazon packages and frivolous spending to help soothe my anxiety about being stuck at home. Filling my emotional voids with boxes gadgets and cute clothes. Constantly ordering food… Its been a struggle to stay on budget and I have been spending out the wazoo. The terrible thing is that staying on budget is a big deal for me! What I discovered is that debt-free living is not a one-time thing. I can easily slip back down the slippery slope of credit card debt in a day if I made rash decisions to buy things that I can’t really afford and if I make purchases I did not plan for in my budget. Being debt-free is a journey and lifestyle you have to constantly choose.
Now that I realized quarantine is pushing me in a terrible financial direction, I had to go back to basics to ensure I’m on the right track to financial freedom. See a few tips below on how I keep track of my budget and live debt-free.
Quick Tips for Staying on Budget
- Budget spreadsheet – each month I review my bills so I pay on time. If I’m planning ahead and know a trip is coming up I can add the estimated amount in my budget spreadsheet and plan for the purchase. Check out this basic budgeting spreadsheet or search for one that works best for you!
- Create a grocery shopping list – and stick to it. I tried an app or two and nothing felt sustainable. Really, I just write a list in my Evernote and stick to it.
- Schedule no spend months – or no spend weeks. During a no spend month, I’m not allowed to purchase anything extra besides the necessities like gas and groceries. I tell my friends I’m busy and can’t go out for drinks and I spend a lot of time at home or window shopping. A few weeks not shopping means money in my pocket.
- Avoid monthly subscriptions – I try to avoid monthly subscriptions to anything but Amazon and the gym. Everything else, I stick to the free plan and make due. Otherwise, I’m typically paying for something that I use maybe a few times a year, and I don’t need to pay for it monthly. For example, I purchased HBO to watch Insecure and I enjoyed the subscription for 2 months and then canceled it afterward. For me, it’s not a necessity.
- Only carry cash or your debit card in your wallet – No credits cards allowed. Sometimes I just have to leave my credit cards at home. I know myself and I know I love to shop! I carry $40 in my wallet and that’s enough for gas snacks and whatever.
- Forget about keeping up with the Jones– Everyone says this but it’s true! When I see someone else’s vacay or cute outfits I want to immediately buy it, but can I really afford it? If I budget for it, I can probably purchase it in the next few months.
- Buy used or cheap and mix it with the expensive – Works for furniture, clothes, and everything. I buy most clothes on sale, all of my fancy purses were gifts and a few items are thrift. No one will ever know which is which. Can I get something similar on sale? I’m not afraid of the sales rack.
Next month I will share a few specific tips that helped me pay off my debt and student loans to become debt-free!
Best free resource on all things financial. Check out their articles and resources on living debt-free.
Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover
He’s a little gruff, but his method is proven! We are currently working through the steps and plan to purchase a home next year based on the guidelines.
The Finance Bar
Your journey to financial wellness begins here. Great weekly tips and consultations are available. Also, she is just amazing! I met her at the 21 Summit conference in 2019.
@HeyBerna – Financial Hypewoman
She is Hilarious! Nuts and amazing when it comes to money management. I love her Insta stories for a laugh and a very unsubtle reminder to keep track of my finances. Check out her youtube video on budgeting in a recession.
How do you stay on budget?