“Your finances did not get messy over night and your debt is not going to get cleared up in a day!” – FlyLady
Looking for ways to save money does not have to be tedious. Check out the great ideas from our members on how they are going to tackle their credit card debt, one BabyStep at a time!
Back to Basics
We cancelled our voice mail and caller id service for a total of about $19 a month — who knew it was so expensive? Also cancelled the newspaper — about $15 per month.
My husband and I figured out we could save $18/month by changing our phone service. The charge for the basic service was cheaper when we switched to another provider. Also, we took a long look at whether or not we needed all the extras like voice mail, call waiting, etc. We found our old answering machine (that still worked perfectly) and started using that. We got rid of everything else except caller ID. And that additional $18/month now goes toward our debt! – Flying high in Kentucky
Flylady and gang, I have saved more than $16 this month by doing a few things that didn’t hurt at all. I changed our newspaper subscription from $18 per month for the daily paper to the Sunday-only paper at $10 per month. It saves us $8 and a lot of space and guilt because we never ended up reading them each day. I also called the local cable company and questioned their packages and rates. We now have fewer premium channels but are saving $25 per month. Again, it didn’t hurt us because we don’t watch much TV and rarely turned to the premium channels. In January we changed our cell phone package, giving us free national long-distance, which chopped off $20 from our monthly phone bill. That’s a total savings of $53 per month! We’ve seen real savings in 2003 with your help. I took your advice and am half-way through Suze Orman’s 9 Steps book and things are going great! Thanks. – Flying Cinderella in Central Wisconsin
We downgraded our cable TV service. Now we have $20 more a month to pay off our debt card, and as an unexpected bonus, we are playing games together and reading instead of watching tv as much! – A FLYing Family in Oregon
- Quit the subscription to the daily paper, saving $12 per month. It wasn’t getting read anyway, and it was adding to clutter. I may quit the Sunday paper and that would reduce the bill by another $7.
- I have already cut my DVD’s by mail service from 4 at a time to 3 at a time, saving $5 per month.
- I have a separate fax line and now that I am working, I may get rid of that line, saving $17.95 per month. If I could put that toward credit card debt each month, it would have a dramatic impact.
- Don’t rent any VHS movies at the grocery store this month. I have tons of great books to read from own collection, as well as Library Books. Do FLYlady’s Library Book Challenge each week, and never pay library fines. Cancel all magazine subscriptions.
- Carry my lunch to work.
- Re-gift a brand new gift that someone gave me for a bridal shower, rather than buying the bride I barely know a new gift. Use a brown paper bag and get very creative with markers and ribbons to save on buying expensive wrap. Make my own card. I should save $25 at this one shower alone. Another idea: Since the shower is on Friday evening and is a dessert shower, I will be exhausted from work and will not have eaten supper (I live out in the country and won’t want to come home and eat and then go back). I don’t want to spend money on a meal out — we don’t have a decent restaurant in the tiny town where I live. So, I will just drop my gift off right after work, give my best wishes, and say I am unable to stay. No muss, no fuss. I will be saved loads of calories from desserts I don’t like anyway, I won’t have to play silly party games with women I’d rather not spend time with, I won’t have to socialize with my boss after a long week at work, and I will have a nice evening to Finally Love Myself. Time is money, so I’ll have more time & energy to spend blessing our home and finances. I won’t be scattering my energy to the four winds.
- Return items I bought to a gift shop for store credit. This won’t go toward paying my credit card bills, but it will get rid of clutter and I can use the credit for socks for my husband, rather than more STUFF for the house.
- Note on my calendar when each bill is due so that I incur NO MORE LATE FEES!
I plan on using my tax return to drop a $1,000 on my debt. I also am going to refinance our home. I just heard the rates for a 15 year loan hit in the 4% range.
Skip the conveniences
Hi, FlyCrew, Our family has been debt free from credit cards for seven years, and totally debt free (car and home paid for) for three years. We BabyStepped our way out of debt and have been released from that awful financial clutter. One “money drain” I noticed early on, when we went somewhere as a family, the children would always ask Mom for the treats — soda and whatnot — never Dad, and I always gave in without a second thought. I started leaving my purse at home, and when the kids asked, I told them “sorry, my purse is at home — you’ll have to ask Dad.” Guess what — they wouldn’t ask Dad! – Flybaby in NH
Hi — I’m going to skip my Tuesday cappuchino and the soft drinks I frequently buy from the soda machines — it will all add up! – Flybaby in NY
If I get a Coke out of our school machine, it costs $.50 per day. If I bring a bottle of home filtered water, I am just as refreshed and it costs me nothing. Plus I have avoided some pretty disgusting chemicals an caffeine! The savings would be just about $16 in a month if you get more than one on a couple of days. – Flying in Florida
My husband and I have agreed to forgo our Coke Classic “habit” for the month for the greater good of paying down our debt… I am sure that we will save even more than $16! Perhaps water will become more appealing after this month when we see just how much is spent on empty calories. – Flybaby in WV
The sixteen dollars will be found by not going to a fast food drive-thru this weekend. Instead, I will pack a picnic lunch for my son’s baseball game. (NO-COST family fun idea and saving money) Thanks! I love all of you – Flying in Murrieta
I saved $5 yesterday by not going through the drive-through (although sorely tempted!) with my son on my way home for lunch. And, I was out of coffee and thought about driving through for one of those as well ($3), but I resisted! I’m half-way there!! Can it really be that easy?? – Flapping in NE
I’m a Payroll-flybaby, and my company has lunch brought in 3-4 times each week for us to buy. Good, tasty, nutritous meals, but at $5–$7 each, this adds up. My goal is to NOT count on that cheap, convenient meal at least twice each week and put that extra $40 towards a high-interest credit card. Saturday I’ll make up at least a weeks worth of lunch menus (dinner too, leftovers at lunch!), and Sunday I’ll go shopping and pre-cook. Since I have to do low sodium and low carb, this takes some thinking.
I have a coffee maker, 500 filters, and coffee in the freezer. I drink one cup of coffee every day of the week and two cups on Sunday. Monday through Saturday, I run up to the High’s store and buy a cup. I bring my own travel mug and refills are $.50. I didn’t think it made sense to make just one cup of coffee in my 10 cup coffee machine, so I buy it out. This month of debt flinging, I’m going to make my coffee each morning. I figure that the cost of the coffee and the occasional bagel I pick up when I’m there will take care of my part of the debt reduction for the debt fling in March. It’s a small thing, but what are they called… BabySteps!
We plan on emptying our change jars and using the money we get back when we return our deposit bottles. Should be enough for several extra payments. Just never thought of it.
This is a tip I learned from Suze Ormand but never actually put into practice. However, I’m so excited about the Super Financial Boogie that I’m determined to do it this month… and hopefully build an on-going routine. Her tip was to use only paper money on all purchases. At the end of every week (or month), collect all the change that you’ve accumulated, and apply that “found money” to a credit card debt. Since we’re not using “virtual money” any more, it should add up quickly!
Use your tax refund to pay off your credit cards. DH and I have really been working on paying our credit cards off. The money we’ve saved by meal planning has been significant and now we are at the point where our tax refund will cover the balance in total.
Take the Plunge
Hi FlyCrew, As I shared with our little group at our Flyfest today, the financial FLYing has inspired me to put faith in the idea that is I just trust and let go, we’ll always have what we need. DH and I are surrounded by loving supportive friends and family, but I have been so anxious about building up our savings account (we’re newlyweds) that I have just been paying the minimum on our credit card debt. Well, I’m taking the plunge — using the money we have saved to pay off the credit cards. No more credit card debt and our savings account will grow even faster once we don’t have all that interest building up. I’m looking forward to a hefty total to post on the third. Letting go and flying in NJ.
“I didn’t really need it, I already have enough”
I am going to have a coffee can labeled “I didn’t really need it, I already have enough.” Then anything that I don’t purchase that I usually waste money on I will put into that can. Heck, just by not buying a $.75 can of pop from the vending machine at work every day and drinking water instead will save $15 a month. If I can’t bear to go without that pop, then I can bring one from home every day and still save $10 a month. If I cut out one $.60 candy bar a week, that adds another $2.40. Hmmm, I think I’ll bring a can of pop from home, so I need to cut out another $3.60. Hey! I usually throw in a buck a week at work for coffee. I have a ton of tea already in my cupboard, I’ll bring that to work instead! There I go! Sixteen bucks and some change! This should be pretty painless.I know myself well enough that I want to put cash into that can rather than leave it in my check book for two reasons. First, it will disappear towards something else. And second, having that cold, hard cash in my hot little hands will feel like a very tangible accomplishment! I can deposit it back into my checking account and put it towards a bill. It makes FLY sense to me! Thank you, FLYLady, for this challenge. A Snow Bird
Stay Away From The Shops! Use What You Have!
Dear Flylady and team, The main thing to remember if you are not yet strong enough to be financially loving yourself is to STAY AWAY FROM THE SHOPS. Set a time limit and see what happens. I told myself that I could stay away for a week (apart from the supermarket for groceries). It works. If you get paid fortnightly, then STAY AWAY FROM THE SHOPS for a fortnight. Your savings will grow and you will get much more time to declutter at home. I am the typical clothes horse who only feels good if I am looking good in something new. I craved people telling me I looked nice. I worked out once I cleaned out my wardrobe I had plenty of nice clothes to wear; I just could never find them because of the CHAOS.I set another goal for my clothes after they were neatly pressed, mended and put away: wear all the forgotton outfits at least once before I am allowed to buy anything new. I can then work out what still fits, what is in fashion, what will always be a classic and what makes me feel yucky. If it is not a true classic that makes me feel good, out it goes. This way every outfit gets a chance to prove itself before it goes out the door. Once it is flung to the charity bin, I feel great and have no regrets. The process keeps me out of the shops and has let me rediscover some great pieces. I am also more into looking after my health so I can fit the outfits from years ago that I love. I don’t want to end up with three wardrobes in three different sizes anymore. WHAT A WASTE of space and contentment. I know this is just the beginning but I am positive I will be halving my wardrobe and saving money at the same time by this process.
Just to let you know that I am only human I have set up a reward plan for my work. If I can stick to my time table (which I plan to increase in baby steps to six months) I am allowed to buy a new season outfit as a treat (if I need it). Thank you FlyLady and team for all of your wonderful encouragement. I am growing some wings and am ready to Fly. Finally Loving myself in Queensland, Down Under.
Just Do It
We have three credit cards with balances on them. They have 0-5% interest, so we’re not *that* worried, but this month the one with the lowest balance was just $1050. The minimum due was a cheesy $13. I thought about paying the minimum there and sending a larger chunk over to a different card, but I thought, “If I pay $100, this will break the $1000 mark on this card… So I did!!! Wahoo! It feels great to get at least one card under $1K. Now for the rest of them… We also cut up about 5 credit cards in the last three months… Sears, Burdines, Chase, Discover, Citibank, Providian & two jewelry stores (from our wedding three years ago)… We’re on a roll!!!
Grow Your Own
It’s nearly gardening time again. My husband and I enjoy gardening with our 5- and 7-year-old children. We till up a sizable plot, considering we live in a small town downtown area; however, we used to live in a townhome and container gardened. We plant seeds (especially tomatoes) in March, transplant in May (be sure to check the last potential frost in your area), and harvest July through September. Different varieties mature at different rates. Plum tomatoes make the best sauce. With just a $.99 packet of seeds, we can enough tomato sauce to get us through the winter. My husband and I have white collar jobs, but the kids (as well as ourselves) enjoy the time together and watching the progress. Great for family time and family finances. Sincerely, Flying in Beaver, PA
Destroy Those Cards
I did my part to wipe out credit card debt 16 years ago, so I won’t be much help in the Financial Super Fling Boogie. My husband and I destroyed all our cards at that time as we could see where the road was headed. We didn’t like what we saw, so we took the bull by the horns and stopped the madness! We strictly use cash, debit cards, and checks to get through life. And it works! Besides, it helps us to be more fiscally responsible. – Tacoma, WA
Turn In Old Bottles and Cans
I am going to return all the pop bottles in the garage. I hate the chore, but it will get me at least 16 dollars & get rid of a lot of bags of yucky clutter.
I’ve found that when I really want to, I can shave an extra $16 or so from my grocery money. I just have to go back to my pantry and be a little more creative, plus I don’t buy anything that is not absolutely necessary for the next two weeks, so sodas and candy just don’t make it into my cart. I also tend to really limit things like chips, crackers, and other snacks that we like but don’t really NEED! I save on gas by not making another trip to the store (a 10 mile each way trip) and also avoid extra trips anywhere if possible, since my “car” is a half-ton truck that does NOT get good gas mileage.
Resist the Impulse!
I am going to resist the impulse to order pizza delivery! Depending on who is around that night, it usually costs $16 or more! No pizza — if peanut butter is the quickest option, so be it! It all goes back to your plan, plan, plan for menus that I need to get back in the habit of! This could easily get me $16/week towards my credit card! – in IL
Instead of having my hair cut every six weeks, I can stretch that to eight or ten weeks and save half of the cost of a $40 hair cut — $20 towards my overstuffed credit card balance.
I am so excited about “getting my finances under control.” One of the things I do for a little extra money is to take the things I don’t love (but I am sure someone else will), to a little resale (consignment shop) just around the corner from my house. I also take the DD’s and DS’s clothes that are too small there, too. I am always suprised by how much money I make. Can’t wait to apply some of that money towards a bill. Fluttering in Texas
You can easily save $16.00 per month by including a “meatless day” in your weekly menu planning. As an alternative, stretch a larger portion of meat into two meals by adding potatoes, rice or noodles, vegetables and a sauce. Our usual meat portion sizes are often “over-sized” or “super-sized” and nutritionally unnecessary and possibly harmful to our health. – MI Flybaby
Skip the Takeout
Tomorrow (Sunday) I’m going to prepare a meal for DP and me for next Friday night. I generally prepare a couple of meals on Sunday — a double of Sunday’s and an extra meal — which puts two in the freezer. We don’t cook for our mostly grown family on Fridays and usually end up buying a takeout for us (the kids fend for themselves — the youngest is almost 18) — that costs about $20. I will freeze a dish of chicken that DP likes that costs about $4 to prepare for two. But, I’m going to charge us $16 for the meal, which I will transfer to (one of) my credit cards. We’ll only have to wait in our comfortable house while we nuke the meal instead of queuing at the takeout. And to keep it off, I’m planning to subtract $16 from the limit and act as if it isn’t there. If I do this two Fridays a month for a year, I’ll have reduced my credit debt by an extra $384. A drop in the ocean, but a start. And after cooking for a large family (nine!) for years, an itty-bitty meal for two takes all of 15 minutes to prepare. I know I can do anything for 15 mins! – FACEing the music and fluttering in OzP.S., last month I received three invitations to increase my credit card limit. For the increases of $3k I was tempted for a minute and then felt the FLYwashing. I tore those up before I signed them to accept the offer. I’m not trustworthy with unused credit. Then the third one came, inviting me to increase my limit by another $6k. Ooohhh, so tempting. I thought of flashing that gold card around buying expensive items that I’m waiting to afford and can live without until then. I’m glad I subscribe to the daily reminders and testimonials. That little FlyVoice asked me what I was doing and *poof* the thought went away long enough for me to rip that invitation and fling it. I feel pretty safe if I receive any more, because I don’t want to be financially superflinging forever. Even the frequent flyer points aren’t worth the financial CHAOS. I’ve been living hand to mouth for many years, with annual outbreaks of retail therapy that take years to repay. Now I’m in a much better position; I can use the money to consolidate and want what I have. It’s pretty cool anyway because I only have stuff that I love and that makes me smile. Thanks, FlyFolk. Legends one and all.
Break Bad Habits
It is amazing how MUCH I’ve paid on my overwhelming debt since I stopped smoking!! I challenge every one out there to give up ONE carton a month, or even on pack a week (just smoke less) and you’ll have more than your $16. BTW — I had a big time habit and it was costing me a fortune not only in money, but in my health and my guilt. Flying high without that kind of help in southern CA!!!!
Plan it Out
I did my grocery shopping on Wednesday. I did a meal plan. I made sure I bought enough milk and bread for a week. This means I don’t have to go to the supermarket again until next Wednesday. I am sure this will save me well over $16. Instead of popping in for milk and bread and buying extras while I’m there, I’ll be keeping my money in my wallet. I won’t need to pop out to the ATM to cover milk and bread and take out more “just in case.” This, coupled with the fact I’ve STOPPED SMOKING means I will be paying $325 Australian dollars more than my minimum this month! I’m so proud of myself. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to brag. Flybaby in Australia
“Pretend” to Lose Your Job
My husband and I decided that we would just pretend that he lost his job!! If we were out of work, what areas would we drastically cut back on? Videos, movies, dinners out, costlier groceries, clothing? There are lot of things we can “put off getting” that we may find we don’t really need at all. By looking at our finances this way, we came up with several hundred dollars extra per paycheck that we could apply to paying off our debt. WOW! What a fun thing to send a big chunk of money and watch that balance go DOWN! Flybaby in Utah
Double Up On Payments
I am going to make two payments instead of one this month and also add $5 extra each time so I will actually be bypassing the $16 mark but also closer to debt free on credit cards.
My recommendations to save $16 towards credit payments have amounted to saving us way more the $16 per month. Here’s what I’ve done, and I should be debt free in five more months. Every spare dollar has been going to paying off bills since last November. Christmas was all cash thanks to Flywashing and planning. What I’m doing now:
- Actually planning meals has saved in extra eating out = savings of $80 per month
- Cut back eating out lunches at work to 2x per week = savings of $12.00 per week
- Stopped ordering sodas and instead only water to drink = savings of $3.00 per week
- Got quotes on auto insurance and switched from one provider to another well-known company = savings of $22 per week
- Also bought some of those telephone calling cards from bulk shopping stores and taped on our phone for all out-of-area phone calls = savings of at least $15 per week
My next step is to research cell phone providers and see about changing to another provider. – Flybaby in Southern California
You really don’t have to look far to find $16. Recently, I looked at my monthly bills a little more closely to see where I could shave a few dollars. I cancelled the Line Maintenance charges on my phone and cable TV bills ($5 and $3 per month). I also found that my long distance phone plan now charges HALF what I have been paying — same plan, but at a cheaper rate! Funny how they didn’t tell me!! This saved about $30 a month. Last summer, we had a severe drought and were on water restrictions. We cut back as required and saved about $4 a month, which was a nice surprise. I still continue to conserve water when I can. I have cancelled all my magazine subscriptions for mags that I never have time to read (thank you Suze Orman on the Oprah Show several years ago). I recently let two magazine subscriptions expire so I could subscribe to their online newsletters. I have all the reading that I can handle! You guys are awsome!! Thanks for all you do! – Fluttering in Whispering Pines, NC
Ways in which I could find $16.00 within one month, and the amount I think I could save (or generate) in one month:
- Drink a nice cup of coffee at home instead of a $5 latte in a shop (but take this a step further and allow myself another, inexpensive treat like a hot bath, to make up for missing the latte — this is not about deprivation!) Estimated saving: $5×4 = $20.
- Check some books out of the library instead of buying books and magazines to read Save about $75.
- Instead of renting a brand new video, rent old videos, which are about half the rental price of “new releases” at my local video store — or even better, rent on “cheap Tuesday” when the price of a weekly rental is even less than the regular price. Or even better, turn off the TV and read, talk to family, play a game, do something free. Save about $10.
- Gather up a bunch of good-quality books (I have lots lying around) and sell them to the second-hand bookshop — but warning! This is not really in the FlyLady spirit, so should be used only for a special occasion. Ordinarily it is better to just give the books away (which I do, lately using www.bookcrossing.com to make it more interesting). Generate about $25 cash.
- Use the online TV guide instead of buying the paper one. Save about $8.
- Pay all bills off in full and on time to avoid paying interest. (When I fail to do this, it’s not for lack of funds, it’s because of poor organization). Savings vary.
- Roll up all the loose change in the house — drawers, dresser tops, all the hiding places. Go to the bank and deposit it or use it to pay off a bill. Generate about $25 cash.
- Check to see whether we are getting all the “deals” we are entitled to. A great example is with car and home insurance. We went about two years before the insurer offered us the “multi-policy discount” — when all your insurance is with one company, sometimes you get a better rate but you may have to ask. I bet there are other “deals” out there besides the insurance thing. Savings vary.
- Take a good look at the “air miles” catalogue and start spending the miles on things that can save us cash. (Consider this as a way of buying gifts — air miles can be redeemed for things like movie tickets, clock radios, CD players, all kinds of stuff besides travel). Savings vary.
- Organize with a friend to do something which will save you both cash. For example, I used to exchange babysitting with one friend. Right now, I don’t need that service, but it was a saving for me back when I did. Another potential swap is to have two little dinner parties this month — one at your place, one at theirs. Yes, you pay for the food at those parties, but it’s a nicer atmosphere and much cheaper than going to a restaurant. Savings vary, but for one dinner out, my family of four would save about $60. To entertain four people at our home one evening would cost at most $30 in “raw materials” — and that would be a very fancy dinner. If we made these meals modest, it could be done for about $15. Net savings at least $45.
- Write letters instead of using long-distance phone. Letters are wonderful to receive; we underestimate how much they can brighten someone’s day. Save about $20.
- Read through a list of energy-saving tips appropriate for your area (lots of governments and energy companies publish these) and make sure you’re doing all the ones that apply to you. For example, turn off the lights and turn down the thermostat when you don’t need the light and heat. Open your curtains to let the warm sun in when you’re cold; close them to keep the hot sun out when you’re hot! Dust off your light bulbs and fixtures. That sort of stuff. Savings vary.
- Check your tires. Proper inflation improves gas mileage. Savings vary.
- For the humans and the animals in your life, devote some extra time to preventive health measures and avoid costly medical and/or vet bills. A big one is dental care. Take the time to brush and floss human teeth, and to brush your dog’s teeth! I know it may sound a bit over the top, but it’s worth it. Savings are not immediate; this one is for the long haul.
- Use up the stuff in your pantry and freezer until you are down to the basics and everything you have is useful and reasonably fresh. This is kind of like living off of your savings, so you can’t do it all the time, but as a way of saving cash in the short term, it can work. You may be eating weird things this month! And, at the end of the month when the freezer and pantry are looking pretty empty — defrost and clean before filling them up again. My freezer is full of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Working our way through it this month will “save” about $300 at least. When our freezers are full, we are warehousing food which has cost us money (so our cash is sitting there in the freezer), and we are paying energy charges to keep the warehouse going. Sometimes using a freezer is smart, but not always. Also, the freezer is most efficient when it is almost full. I am considering emptying mine and unplugging it for a while until I get out of the hoarding habit.
- Try to wear clothes which don’t need drycleaning, or which can be cleaned with “Dryel” type products to save on drycleaning bills this month.
These are just some thoughts, they work (or have worked in the past) for me… Maybe someone else will find them useful. All the best.
It makes a big difference if you watch those ATM fees. Here is Maryland, which apparently has some of the highest rates, the bank can charge $2 for using an ATM that is not your home bank. Then, the bank whose machine you are using also charges you a fee, again up to $2. Simply using your own bank’s ATMs can save you money in a hurry. If you are traveling or have an emergency, try to anticipate how much you need and only hit the ATM once so that you are not paying numerous fees. It is often the little things like this that over time can add up to very large amounts.
Cash In Reward Points… Pay Off Debt!
Oh, I have a good one. A department store that I shop at offers points on purchases which can be converted into gift certificates. I cashed in all of the points that I have collected and used the gift certificate as a payment on the very same account that earned them. How’s that for free money, LOL. My card balance is now $50 lower AND I have not spent a single extra penny to do it. – Flying in Manitoba, Canada
Include Credit Transactions in Your Check Book
When my kids first got credit cards, I encouraged them to write their credit card purchases into the checkbook register and subtract them right away. This was with the intent of paying in full each month. You could plan ahead for a fixed amount over the minimum, subtract that from the checkbook, so you have the money in the bank for the payment when bill time comes. I personally am very blessed – I have no credit card debt at all. Careful (some might say penny-pinching) spending and adequate income made it possible. I’m not going to be much help this fling!
Brown Bagging It!
Actually, I’ve already started doing this, but as a payroll SHE, I’ll easily save $16 by brownbagging my lunches.
Get all the family to take packed lunches to school/work for the month. Mine take hot soup in a thermos, leftover chili, curry etc. to warm in the microwave, cooked meat sandwiches, Jello etc. Just ask them to try it for a month. Indulge the mad Fly woman! I make all mine in one fell swoop for the week; it takes me just thirty minutes, then I freeze them. Each night I just put a package in the fridge to defrost, salads and dressings I just make fresh and put in a small pot. EASY! Thank you for all you do, FlyTeam. I am really learning to keep it simple. At 46yrs old, it sure took a while!