There are many small things anyone can do to pay down their debt and live a less stressful life. Being in my young twenties I take a lot of pride in knowing that before my young thirties I will own my house, and own it fully free and clear. There are many things I do every month to try and reach this goal even quicker. In this article, I am going to cover many of the things that everyone can do to try to get out of debt, or at least the things that are employed in our home to get us out of ours.
For us the only debt we have is the house, we currently owe about 45,000$ on it. 45,000$ is a lot of money for us, I don’t make even close to that in a year, and so many people cannot seem to understand how we could possibly make it on our income, you’d be surprised the questions I get asked, for example, someone asked us how we manage to afford food without government assistance. I will say this, I do not consider our family to be that poor or that broke, we live and I think we do alright. Moreover, After reviewing all the data on money lending companies I have decided that it is better to save money before going for a loan and if there is some situation where getting a loan is inevitable then a credible money lender is always better than some bank or money lending company.
We save money and have hobbies that are cost-effective. The first thing is we love to garden! We garden year-round even in our harsh winters we have greens growing indoors. I consider us very lucky, we live in zone 6a and we get a full four seasons. There are not many foods that we, as a family cannot grow right in our own back yard. From peppers, and tomatoes, to peas and beans, Eggplants to squash, all the way down to wheatgrass. We three eat an almost completely organic diet that cost us about 60$ one time for the heirloom seeds we bought. Each year we grow about 25 lbs of strawberries, enough lettuce for a salad every night, all the beans we can eat, about 40 squash fruits for bread and pies, fresh crisp garden peas and sugar snaps. Personally I prefer to dehydrate anything that we don’t use the day that we pick it. Dehydrating food is a key option because you don’t need electricity to run the freezer if it can be stored on a shelf, because once it is dehydrated it takes up much less space, and because dehydrated food doesn’t spoil. Sometimes when certain things we do not grow is just on sale (a good sale), I will buy it in bulk and dry it. Each month we spend around 120$ on groceries, instead of when we didn’t do all of this we would spend closer to 120$ each week! (that’s a difference of 360$-480$ each month!)
Another great thing we implemented around our home is the 10$ rule. On the weeks that we all do well not to spend any extra money, we each go to a small store and pick any one thing we want for ten or fewer dollars and we allow ourselves to buy it guilt-free. This typically only happens on weeks I get overtime, but it makes us all feel like we got a prize for working as a team! Smaller rewards seem to keep us from making large splurges.
We also save all of our coin change in a quart-sized jar, each time the jar gets full that is EXTRA to go on the house note, the first time we dumped the jar to count it full, it was well over 300 bucks! That night we walked up to the ice cream parlor to celebrate, 3 cones dipped in chocolate and 6$ later we were all grinning ear to ear. 300$ may not sound like much but that is two dollars less each month for as long as we pay that is no longer on interest! If it takes us the full five years to pay it off that adds up to 250$ or more that we save!
Another great thing we do is every year we buy a membership to the zoo! It’s important to remember that sometimes spending money can actually save you a ton in the long run. Our family pass to the zoo nearest us cost 140$. The pass is good for a full year and they are open 362 days a year. The membership allows us to bring the kids and myself plus two other adults and four other children to the zoo whenever we want! The other great perk to the membership… free parking when you get to the zoo! It is not uncommon for us to take trips out there every two or three weeks. We pack our lunches and snacks and drinks. Typically we don’t spend more than 20$ each trip out there, and most of the time when we bring friends to the zoo with us the try to pay for anything they can since “we paid the membership”
From Spring to Summer we walk everywhere within reason. Grocery stores, ice cream parlors, the grandparents the hardware store and any other place my legs can push them. Each winter I spend almost sixty-five dollars each week in gas whereas in the spring, summer and fall I typically spend only half of that. Over a full month saving thirty bucks each week I am able to put an additional 130$ towards the house! Since we also spend so much less time in the house all summer long the utilities all but disappear, and any extra we can manage from what is not being spent on them can also go right on the house!
There are so many little things that can be done each month to help pay off debt, and after the first or second month of doing them, they seem as normal as putting the key in the door when you get home. I started doing these things because I never want to need overtime again, and once the house is paid for I won’t ever need it. Once the house is fully paid off I am going to keep doing it, not because I want to retire but because Children learn by example, and I want it to be simple to afford the things they need when they get all “grown-up! “