Today we have a guest post from a new blogger, Kev. I hope you enjoy it!
A few months ago, I had the immense pleasure of checking an important bucket-list item: paying down $20,000 of outstanding debt on my line of credit.
It took me 36 months to close the debt, during which my spouse and I considerably scaled down our spending. However, it was well worth it.
The purpose of this guest post is two-fold: to help you and inspire you. We all have our own stories when it comes to why we have the debt we have (unforeseen home renovations in my case) and through my experience, I realized that there are many ways to get out of it.
Here is how we did it:
Be Alert & Creative
Sometimes, you need to stretch every dollar. And that also applies to your debts. For example, one day I decided to finally open up a piece of junk mail sent from Chase Bank, which promoted their new credit card. I noticed that aside from a 6-month interest-free purchase period, they offered an 18-month interest-free period on balance transfers… bingo!
After being authorized and issued a new Chase credit card, I called their customer representative and transferred $12,000 of my outstanding line of credit loan onto my Chase credit card. I went from paying 5.75% to 0% for 18 months on $12,000. Once the 18-month period came to an end, I simply transferred back the outstanding amount onto my line of credit (interest on the card was approximately 22% after the 18-month period).
Frequency & Follow-up
My spouse and I did a good job of following up on our budget. I tracked the ins and outs on a weekly basis while my wife consulted with me every few weeks or so. No need to use sophisticated software; I used an Excel spreadsheet that we built to meet our needs.
The reality is that when you follow-up closely, you can foresee issues before they actually occur. For example, you might realize that your property taxes are due in 2 months and you forgot to include it in your budget. By noticing a cash deficit ahead of time, you can take corrective actions such as paying less on your credit card for the next 2 months to make sure you have enough left to pay your property taxes.
I saved approximately $65/month simply by calling my service provider and negotiating with them. Don’t be scared to do so, especially if you’ve been a customer of theirs for a little while. Disclosure: I was willing to cut my TV and phone services if their offer didn’t meet my expectations.
Simply said, we didn’t have any this year! It was a tough decision, but waiving our annual summer vacations had to be done and it saved us roughly $1500. Not even a little road trip to NYC! We replaced our vacations with several spa outings. Even better, my work benefits covered part of the massage cost!
If you have already booked your vacation, make sure you stick to your vacation budget by reading these tips.
Buying Bulk & Grocery Lists
I was never a Costco fan, but I realized that many of the items I was always buying at the grocery store were selling for much cheaper at Costco. Whether its hand towels or detergent, the savings were significant.
If you don’t have a Costco membership, call a friend and shop together. That’s what I did and it helps save on the membership cost for both of us as my friend and I shared the membership.
Also, I downloaded an app called Flipp that allows me to search for weekly deals: as such, I rarely buy grocery items if they’re not on special.
Employee Share Ownership Program
I wish I had taken advantage of this much earlier. If you’re lucky enough to have an employer (that has its stock listed on the stock exchange) that offers a stock-based incentive program… sign up ASAP!
Essentially, if you buy shares of your employer, your employer will match your contribution up to a certain amount. In addition, they deduct it from your pay so you don’t have to worry about the mechanics. So if I bought for $1000 of stocks during the year, my employer would have contributed $1000 worth of stocks during that year. And that’s just what I did: I applied the equivalent of my employer’s contribution towards closing my debt.
We were spending a considerable amount of money on my daughter’s daycare. In order to save some money, we asked our in-laws to take care of her. Although they didn’t want any compensation for it, we paid them roughly half of what we used to pay the daycare. In addition, my wife’s friend was on maternity leave and volunteered to babysit our daughter on Fridays. We saved approximately $100/week by thinking of this plan.
We live in the northeast, which means that we must change our tires twice a year (winter/summer). We saved around $200/year on our 2 cars by finding an entrepreneur mechanic on eBay’s Kijiji classifieds that changed the tires and inspected our car in our home’s driveway for a fraction of the price that the dealership was charging.
I would love to hear your stories and tips on how you managed to overcome your debts! For those who are still paying down your debt, remain positive and keep at it.
Kev is dedicated to keeping his family happy and financially stable. A loving husband and proud daddy of a beautiful girl, Kev works at a major financial institution as an analyst. Keeping a balanced household budget isn’t easy, but Kev and his wife manage to stay on top of things by trying out new ideas and eliminating things that don’t work. You can follow his story at Sticking to My Budget.