My husband and I have always been very goal oriented and both love to have something to work toward. As we check off one box, we love to move to the next. We’ve been together since I was 14 and he was 15 so we definitely grew together in this way and it’s one of my favorite parts of our relationship. Today’s post is pertaining to our financial goals and how we’ve met them so far.
Before I get into that, let’s back up for a moment.
We both ended up getting great scholarships to the private school we attended along with other outside scholarships after working hard throughout high school. What we hadn’t accounted for was our school’s president getting driven out and scandalous money problems being discovered after he was gone. This is when tuition skyrocketed and our scholarships no longer meant as much as they originally had. Of course we considered transferring but we had countless credit hours that wouldn’t have transferred with us, had made a home in our school and felt as though we were being taught by some of the best. So, I finished a year early to save some money and we both worked several jobs to also help with the growing tuition costs. It ended up being a blessing that we did stay at our school as my husband was able to find an amazing career through one of his adjunct professors. I also ended up finding my job in the town of our college so in the end, we do not regret the decision to stay. However, this back story is here to explain how we accumulated the student loans that we did 2 years ago. Through our budgeting, we have been taking them down one by one. #byedebt
Whether you are tackling student loans, car loans, credit cards or any other financial burden (or you’re just working to grow your bank account), I thought it might be helpful to shed light on some of the ways we have saved money and paid off tens of thousands in student loan debt. It won’t be easy at first but I assure you, going to my notepad and physically subtracting each loan from our monthly budget is the best feeling. I strongly recommend always writing your budget down for this reason. I keep ours broken down with every monthly expense that we have. I start with bills/other necessities/savings and work my way down to wants after subtracting the needs from the monthly income. With each student loan we pay off, the amount needed to pay our bills decreases and I physically write down that new amount. As I said, that’s an incredibly satisfying feeling.
In the beginning, setting priorities and not having too many “things” you’re spending on are both important. It sounds simple enough but start looking at your bank account and you may discover that your current priorities aren’t necessarily needs. I’m definitely not saying all of these need or should be cut out because everyone has their “thing” that they love but when you put all of these examples together, you could find that the money spent on them would be better used on debt or savings. Remember, you don’t have to cut them out forever–just maybe until your goal is met. You might find that after a while, those things no longer matter though.
For example, my thing that I most enjoy spending on is definitely home decor. I love changing out my accessories seasonally but I’ve combatted the cost by shopping at store like TJMaxx and Home Goods and buying larger/more expensive pieces in classic styles and neutral shades so that they do not need to be changed out.
Examples of other ways to cut costs:
- Cable TV– We’ve never had cable in our relationship and only use Hulu or Netflix. We rotate between them but do not have them both at the same time. Between these options and YouTube, we don’t feel in any way deprived and save SO much money not paying the cable company. I think this is one of the easiest and most effective ways to cut costs.
- Salon Visits– I personally do not color treat my hair and do not go to high-end salons for cuts. If this is your thing, go for it. If it’s not, try looking for ways to spend less here. I spend less than $50 a year at hair salons. Since men have to get cuts more often, I always look for coupons for my husband as well. If you’re really talented, you could do the cuts yourself but that’s not an area I can help with.
- Nail Appointments– While relaxing, nail salon bills really add up. Fun fact: I’ve only had 2 visits to a nail salon in my life. When I want my nails done, I do it myself and so many products and companies make it so easy to!
- Expensive Phone Bills– This is a little more difficult to cut down on but the best way is probably to avoid financing the newest and greatest phone as soon as it comes out and instead, buy a previous version with cash. The days of free upgrades with phone companies are over and the payments on that brand new phone are no joke.
- Car Payments– This is my biggest piece of advice. Check into how quickly new cars depreciate and research quality. Pretty much any car will last years with very minimal trouble so dig into the best age of used car to purchase for your money. We have never had a car payment and this has given us so much more to throw at loans.
- Eating Out– This is the hardest sacrifice for my husband. He absolutely loves trying new restaurants so this is something we splurge on from time to time. However, it’s also one of the easiest ways to get rid of huge sums of money quickly. One way we allow for some eating out is by watching for coupons at our grocery store and buying store-brand as often as possible. Once I am home more with our daughter, I plan to allow a much larger amount of time to really search for the best deals to cut down on our grocery bill.
- Luxury, High-End Purchases (Clothing, Handbags, Shoes, Electronics, Makeup, Vacation)– I like to dress fashionably and love to shop as most of us do but it’s important to keep a close eye on these purchases and their overall worth. For example, if you find you’re only wearing things once before moving on, it might be time to examine the types of pieces or styles you’re buying. I do enjoy high-end makeup but I buy the foundation or mascara and use only it until it’s gone. I’ve learned to not be a product hoarder over the years as I totally used to be. Again, everyone has their thing but if you’re trying to decrease debt, lavish vacations, and designer shopping sprees will have you spending far more throughout the life of the loan.
- Be cautious of cards– We do not do credit cards. While some offer perks that can be helpful if used responsibly, they might just be more trouble than they’re worth if you aren’t very disciplined.
Our overall method to saving:
On top of the previously listed ways to save, we live on only one income even though we have two. We never acquire a new bill or payment that cannot be paid for with only one income and still allow for savings each month. We always have a safety net in case of any emergencies but other than that, we are constantly saving to pay off each loan entirely. We set our payments to withdraw the max amount each month to lessen the interest we pay over the lifetime of the loan. I am also huge on the art of decluttering. If I don’t love or use something anymore, it’s getting sold. There are so many platforms that make doing this very easy and you get extra cash while also improving your home.
You may not live super lavishly but we’ve been able to pay off huge sums of debt this way and have been blessed to also purchase a home and reliable vehicles along the way. Our methods have greatly helped us during the past few years and I hope this gave you an idea of how to accomplish whatever your financial goal might be.