The major theme I keep reading about when researching methods people use to get out of debt is frugality. The little things add up. Constant vigilance. You can't do a half-assed job and expect to see results. Cut costs where you can and limit the rest. I need to go balls to the wall until it's done, and then I never have to worry about it again.
My plans for getting out of debt:
1. Establish a budget and stick to it. Seems easy enough, but it's harder than it seems. I've had a budget for a while. I know where I always go over, so I'm going to focus on those categories.
2. Most of my extra expenses end up on my credit card as I run errands or go shopping. I've taken all credit cards & store cards out of my wallet. I left my debit card, which I'll think twice about swiping because it comes straight out of my account.
3. I almost always go over my grocery budget. No more special pre-made gluten free items that cost ridiculous amounts of money. 4 muffins for 6 bucks? I can make them for pennies. I also tend to buy way too much stuff which just sits there. I'm one person; I don't need to make large shopping trips and spend hundreds of dollars a month on food.
4. To help stick to my grocery budget, I'm going to prepare a meal plan based on store flyer sales and buy only what I need. Too often I get the basics, plus things that I think I might eat. That leaves me a week later with no more insta-food with random ingredients and no idea what to cook. Which leads to dining out, or going to the store to buy more ingredients for whatever I've decided to cook.
5. Extra purchases: I need to use what I already have. I have 3 bottles of shampoo and 8 tubes of sunscreen. At one point I had 6 bottles of conditioner. If I need toothpaste or qtips, I need to include it in my grocery budget and buy it at the same time that I go grocery shopping. That eliminates making a separate trip for shampoo, and walking out with shampoo, a conditioner that was on sale, some new deodorant, a chocolate bar, and a nail polish. That all adds up.
6. I do not need any new clothes. Or new shoes. Or jewelry. I do not need a new lunch bag. I do not need any new kitchen gadgets, dish towels, or bath mats. I do not need any more fabric or sewing notions. I do not need a new coffee mug or eyeshadow. There are so many things that I buy that I think I need, but I don't actually NEED them to live comfortably. No more just "going shopping." That is going to be the hard one.
7. Entertainment. I really cannot justify going out to eat with friends when I have a fridge full of food. (Unless I have a gift card. I randomly have $50 in Pappas gift cards, so I'm game for that!) No movies, which are ridiculously expensive anyway. No renewing Broadway season tickets. Friends should not be expensive. That's going to be hard, too, because me and my friends like to do cool stuff, and cool stuff invariably costs money. But, it's only temporary, and I think it will help motivate me to get it paid off faster. Eyes on the prize.
8. Cutting costs where I can: Already cancelled birch box. I also lowered my cell phone bill by 20% because I found out my job offers discounts at Verizon. Car and renter's insurance: Once I move I'm going to start shopping around and seeing how much I can lower things. It's been way over 3 years since my accident, so it should be easier to get a lower rate. Plus, combining the two might help me get a better deal.
9. Part-time gig to supplement my income. That check will be invisible and go straight into debt.
Hopefully writing these things out will help solidify these plans, and also keep me more accountable.
The best part is, I only have to live this way as long as I have debt- once I'm done, I'm done.