5 Old-Fashioned Ways of Digging Yourself Out of Debt

    The median amount of credit card debt carried by Americans $6,600. Can that be right? What are we doing to ourselves? That’s not counting auto or student loans, mortgages, or any other type of debt. Yowza. So, if the median debt is $6,600, that means a lot of us are in much worse shape than that. What’s one to do? Well, beyond consolidation or bankruptcy (both of which you can find information about on this site and elsewhere), the best way to get yourself out of a bind is to do it the old-fashioned way: Start living within your means! The following are a few simple expenses you might want to take a second look at:

    1. Bottled Water. Quit buying bottled water. I mean it. Many cities actually have tap water that’s perfectly clean and healthy to drink, and you can always buy a filtered pitcher/dispenser if that’s not the case. If you buy a large bottle of water ($1.79) on the way to the gym five times a week, that’s around $500 a year. Lots of that stuff comes straight from the tap anyway!

    2. Coffee. This is a big one. It’s well known that many Starbucks’ customers are twice-a-day buyers, and that one of those two visits results in the purchase of something frozen and/or chocolaty and something with whipped cream. These folks are spending around $7 a weekday on coffee. (I will withhold personal opinion on the credentials of a milkshake masquerading as coffee.) That’s $1820 a year. And if you’re only spending $3 a weekday…that is $780 a year. Pocket change.

    3. Cable TV. This exemption isn’t for everyone, but if you’re one of the many, who feels they watch too much TV anyway, cancel your cable, keep your Netflix membership, and save $600 a year.

    4. Lunching out. People who brown bag it might be missing out on the fun and adventure of daily specials, but they also save an average of $25 a week — which adds up to a whopping $1300 a year.

    5. Carwashes and manicures. Maybe you think these are the things that separate you from the Neanderthals. Well, yeah… but the Neanderthals didn’t have that MasterCard with the $11.9% APR. Say you spend $20 on a manicure and $15 on a car wash and you get these things every two weeks. Put ‘em together and that’s over $900 a year. Is doing your own nails and washing your own car that bad?

    Making cutbacks is not exactly wild fun, but add up the savings and you will see that it would only take you 18 months of such behavior to be done with that $6,600 albatross. Those milkshakes are not doing much for your figure anyway.