- Freeze credit cards and ATM cards in a glass of water in your refrigerator freezer. Get spending on a cash basis and make notes/keep receipts on all purchases to help raise your awareness of where your money is going, day in and day out.
- Take some financial pictures of yourself. The big picture is your net worth, listing the things you own versus the things you owe. But don't stop there, Take a close-up picture of your net worth, that is your cash-flow, which is money moving in and out of your life on a monthly basis. It is a list of all income received in a month and also a list of all expenses during the same month. The difference in the two amounts equals your cash flow, be it positive (more income than expenses), or be it negative (more expenses than income), or be it zero (monthly income and expenses are equal). The close-up picture will help in prioritizing monthly spending. The cash-flow will also help identify spending that may be hurtful to getting out of debt. Try to get as much extra cash going to debt pay-down as possible.
- Create a written spending-plan and implement it with the next paycheck or the first of the month, whichever comes first. The cash-flow exercise is the basis for the spending-plan; all the leg-work is done. The monthly spending-plans then become your financial roadmap. The key is to follow it closely, because within that spending plan will be the Christmas debt reduction and, eventually overall debt elimination.
- Look for ways to get a better value for your dollar. It may mean doing things for yourself that you may have paid others to do for you, such as lawn care, car washes, laundry, and so forth. Comparison shopping is another way to save money and get more value. Coupons and rebates add value to your dollar, especially at the grocery store where the average American family spends 30 cents of every take-home dollar.
- Make it a family affair. Everyone can contribute to energy savings, avoiding food waste, clipping coupons and watching out for sales on things regularly purchased. Everyone can become a comparison shopper and look for better values. An over-spender is not just someone who spends more than they earn, an over-spender is also someone who pays too much for things and the latter group is the majority.
- Add to your income at the same time you are spending smarter. This can be done by taking part-time employment, selling things on the internet with eBay, for instance, perhaps generating additional income from a hobby, craft, music or language instruction, and tutoring, to mention a few.
- Get some visual reminders around your home and office about improving spending. If ATM and some credit cards must be unfrozen, place a note on your refrigerator.
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