Debt-Free Isnt for Dummies, But It Could Be for You: 4 Ways to Trim Your Monthly Bills

NPR reports that since the beginning of 2011, the average American wages and the cost of living have been moving in opposite directions. Wages aren’t keeping up with inflation, and that’s not taking things like health insurance costs into consideration. In fact, since 2010 the average hiring wage for workers has continuously gone down, and many professionals have been forced into lower-paying jobs. Add in the mortgage crisis and healthcare costs, and many of us have found ourselves in dire need of downsizing our lives.

Downsizing is tough. While it seems easy for many to adjust from rags to riches, riches to rags is a humbling experience. Keep your head held high and take the time to learn and apply the practical adjustments below. Adaptability is how the strong survive.

Trade in that Lease and Go Used

Trading in your leased vehicle for a used car is one of the wisest ways to ditch a major gratuitous expense. Status and comfort are nice, but so is financial stability. There are many quality, gently used used cars out there—there’s a used car dealer in Dallas currently offering a Hyundai Sonata with great mileage for just under $10,000. You can take the money you save every month and apply it to other expenses or put in in savings.

Cut Down on Grocery Spending

You know those rewards cards the grocery store cashiers are always trying to get you to apply for? Get one. They do save you money. Combine them with coupons you can find online, and you can save a considerable amount of money over the course of the month. Of course, that’s just one easy way to cut down at the market. Another way to save money (and lose weight) is to stick to the list you made, and never go to the store hungry. Yes, your mother has told you that a thousand times, yet we still do it. The reason most people are in debt in the first place is because they took a “going to the store hungry” attitude to life.

Make a Budget

If your output exceeds your income, your upkeep will be your downfall. Learn this. Repeat it. Make it your mantra. It’s all about getting a better hold of the money coming in and going out of your bank accounts. Our recommendation is to tally up what you know you’ll spend each month. Factor in everything. Leave that amount in your account. If there is anything left over, put it into a savings account immediately. This will be painful at first, as it’s forcing you to budget rather than set up elaborate plans. Visit Mint.com for free budgeting advice and apps that can help.

Get Outside

Skip the expensive family trip to the movies. Maybe there will be no amusement park adventure this year, either. For entertainment, take the family on a hike. Grab a camera and teach yourselves how to be a nature photographer. Do anything, as long as it’s outside and stays within your monthly budget. Enjoying the great (and free) outdoors won’t just make you richer, it’ll help you drop a few pounds and get healthier, too.

The most difficult part of making any life changes is actually doing it, but having a little faith and perseverance can help you live the life of your dreams.

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