I spent time talking about kicking out the victim mentality and last post, I talked about how I’ve been using Mint.com to stop the bleeding. Using Mint helps me understand where I waste the most money. Spend less than you earn. Eat less than you burn. Sounds easy but requires a lot of discipline. There were a few other categories outside of food that were eating away at my money every month. You have two options. Make more money or spend less money. I drew a line down a piece of paper and came up with ideas for both options. Let’s start with what I did on the left side (make more money).
Disclaimer: This is the post I’m struggling the most to share because it is a little embarrassing to share a couple of the things I’ve done to pay off this flippin’ debt. It’s not that I’m broke. I just really want to be debt free.
I got a promotion. I worked hard and got a promotion. If you work hard, ask to be rewarded. I’ll write separately about career stuff. More to come on that topic.
I started a business. I’ve talked about it since my early 20’s. I’ll start a business when I get older…well I’m not getting any younger, so I started a photography business. I identified a variety of skills/experiences that I have that other people would pay money for and I landed on photography. I already had quite a bit of equipment, I love capturing people and events, and it’s a hobby that has really turned into a passion for me over the past few years. I have been learning so much about small business and it has been an amazing learning experience. I have also met a lot of wonderful people in the process.
I give plasma. I gave plasma on and off throughout college and grad school. I used to participate in some medical studies for extra money in college and would get locked away on weekends for research studies but was getting paid to study for class and meet cool people. I don’t give plasma every week, but it is an extra $60 per week when I do. I started back up because I saw they were giving an extra $250 for new donors. It takes about an hour for me to donate and I get to watch House of Cards on my iPad. Not bad. I’ve made a rule that says I can go out to eat if it uses the plasma money.
I sold stuff on Craigslist. I sold random stuff I didn’t need anymore. I didn’t make a ton of money doing this but it helps. It’s amazing what you can find that someone else will buy and the space you could save by purging some junk.
Now onto the expenses that I have cut out…
I stopped eating out so much. I shared that in my last post.
Use discounts and coupons, and leverage your network. I work at Target. I get a discount. I also love using Cartwheel and my Red Card to save money. Ask for discounts. Barter where you can. Clip coupons if needed. I saved a ton of money by working through someone in jewelry instead of walking into a retail jeweler to get an engagement ring.
I cut cable. I kept internet. I realized how much TV I didn’t watch and mostly watched Netflix, free TV online, or watched live sports somewhere else. That was a good chunk of money every month.
I cancelled my gym membership. I tracked how often I actually went and calculated the average cost per time I went. Disgusting. I wasn’t getting much out of it and there’s plenty of free activities to keep me active. Free workouts online, running, biking, sports with friends.
I haven’t had a hair cut in over a year. Initially, this started as a joke. I tried it once without butchering myself too bad and found it to be kind of enjoyable in a weird way. You can get some nice clippers for $30-40.
I have an amazing fiancée and future in-laws. Just over a year ago, I had the opportunity to move in with my fiancée who lives in an old house that her parents own. Her mom grew up in this house, and all that rent I was spending is now going towards paying back my educational investment. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for this. It’s huge! I was paying over $1,000 per month for my 2 bedroom apartment in south Minneapolis. Not sure how long we’ll be in this situation, but I am forever grateful. I know many of you do not have this option but think about how you might be able to make housing cheaper.
Now that we are beginning to plan for our wedding, I’m doing my best to be extra mindful with money to save for our big day. I check in on my progress on Mint almost every day. Make a plan. Stick to it. What have you done to earn or save more money?