8 Sacrifices That Will Supercharge Your Debt Payoff

In order to get and stay out of debt, you have to shake things up. You need to change your thought patterns, financial habits, routines, and in some cases, your circle of friends. It requires intentional effort, diligence, and sacrifice. If you seriously want to get out of debt, here are the sacrifices that will expedite the journey.

1. Live on less

The long-quoted financial rule of thumb is that your housing should be less than 30 percent of your net income. If you're above that threshold, downsizing and moving to a cheaper place is one of the easiest and most drastic ways to lower your expenses. (See also: 7 Reasons You Need to Downsize)

If your housing costs are already under 30 percent of your gross income, and you're still in debt, you'll need to find other ways to save money as best as you can. Don't just draw the line at a smaller living space. Look for ways to cut costs across the board for your standard day-to-day expenses. Find ways to reduce your grocery bill, utilities, and water bill. The lower the costs of your lifestyle, the easier it is to pay down debt and stash some cash for a rainy day. (See also: 34 Smart Ways to Cut Your Electric Bill)

2. Pay with cash

A 2016 study, "Paper or Plastic?" How We Pay Influences Post-Transaction Connection, showed that items purchased with cash are valued more than items purchased with plastic. According to the report, spending cash feels the most "painful." Therefore, cash purchases become more meaningful.

Paying with cash makes you feel more connected to the experience. Pay for all consumer goods — including groceries and gas — with cash. You will spend less and appreciate your purchase more.

3. Get a side gig

One of the biggest sacrifices you often have to make in order to get and stay out of debt is your time. A great way to aggressively tackle your debt is by sacrificing a bit of free time and getting a side gig.

You can work part-time for a company, drive for Uber or Lyft, or even deliver pizza. Or you can do your own thing and freelance as a writer, photographer, or caterer. The key here is to find a way to turn your free time into money. (See also: 14 Best Side Jobs For Fast Cash)

4. Get cheaper transportation

Transportation is a sneaky little budget buster. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, transportation is the second largest spending category for an American family. The average household spends $9,049 annually — which is around 17 percent of the total budget.

Reducing transportation costs doesn't mean just getting a cheaper vehicle; it means lowering fuel consumption by taking fewer trips, combining errands, and mapping out travel routes. It also means using public transportation, ride-sharing or carpooling, and walking or riding your bike whenever possible.

5. Plan your meals

Convenience comes at a cost. Grabbing meals and snacks on the go is one of the quickest ways to blow your budget and eat up your income — literally.

Planning your meals and keeping snacks on hand can save you hundreds of dollars per month. Meal planning is also a great way to help you stick to your grocery budget. Try creating a menu for a week — or even a month — and making your grocery list from the menu you created. This will keep you from impulse buying and help you make fewer trips to the grocery store.

6. DIY

In America, we pay someone else to do everything. We pay to have our clothes cleaned, our dogs walked, and our toenails painted. If you simply cut back on some of the things you are paying someone else to do and invest the time and energy it takes to do it yourself, you could save a whole lot of money.

Take a minute and think about all the services you outsource. Which of those could you possibly do yourself? Can you cut your own hair? Do your own Mani-Pedi? Can you cut your own grass and trim your own hedges? Clean your own carpet? How about simple car maintenance — can you change your own oil or perform other small repairs? Can you alter your own clothing?

YouTube is DIY heaven. Find an instructional video on how to do what needs to be done and get to it.

7. Limit screen time

Instructional videos aside, TV and the internet are often counterintuitive to your efforts to get out of debt. It's estimated that the average person is exposed to 10,000 brand messages per day. Let that sink in. You are being bombarded with images and subliminal messages encouraging you to spend money. You've got to occasionally unplug and allow yourself to mentally detox in order to have the focus, drive, and discipline it takes to get out of debt.

Limiting time spent watching television, engaging in social media, and surfing the web will help you avoid spending. And if you get rid of redundant, overlapping services, you can save even more money. Consider how much you are spending on cable, internet, and subscription services like Hulu or Netflix. Work to ensure that the time you do spend watching TV or browsing online is productive and supports your efforts to be fiscally responsible.

8. Find frugal friends

"Show me your friends and I'll show you your future," is a saying that is steeped in truth and wisdom. Who you associate with directly impacts who you'll become. Hanging around people who spend big, waste money, and have to have the finer things in life — despite the cost — will keep you broke and chained to debt forever. Your friends influence your life decisions, which is why it is critical you find people that are headed in the same direction as you and share your value system.

Befriend people from Facebook groups, websites, podcast communities, and other groups that promote getting out of debt and saving for retirement. Changing your social circle is one of the most critical and beneficial things you can do to get and stay on a path to financial freedom. (See also: 10 Types of Friends Who Are Costing You Money)

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