Ten ways to ditch debt in 2013

January is a time when lots of folks resolve to get a handle on their debt.  During the past year John and I have managed to pay off about $10,000, and it feels great. I thought I’d write about some of the things we’ve been doing, in case you’d like less debt a year from now.

1. Grocery-shop with cash. Also, make a budget, know your prices, and stick to your list.

2.  Shop thrift stores and yard sales when needs arise.  Recently I found two immaculate pairs of jeans for my 10 year old daughter — $11 for both. Here are some more ideas for clothing kids affordably.  And speaking of yard sales, here are some tips for a great yard sale of your own.

3.  Combine errands, and shop less often.  You can get by for several days without most items.  Fewer trips to the store will always save you money.  What you don’t see, you won’t buy.

4. Use cloth instead of paper whenever possible.

5. Keep easy meal fixings on hand all the time. Pasta Carbonera and Thai Lettuce Wraps are a couple favorites that take 20 minutes to get to the table.  And remember, you can make your own cream soup.

6. Line-dry bulky items like sheets, towels, blankets and jeans for a savings of 50 cents or more a load.  (If you don’t like things to feel stiff, toss them in the dryer for 5 minutes after they’re dry and before you fold them.)  You can see our indoor drying rods here.

7.  Have teens pitch in to help pay for things on their wish list.  If a kid needs new shoes, but wants a more expensive brand, we supply cash for the budget version, and let them pitch in extra bucks for the name brand. (Lots of wishes evaporate when kids have to supply their own dough.)

8. Look for gifts you could make that will work for kids or adults. Here’s a cute idea for Valentine’s Day.

9. Get rid of unwanted books and get ones you want for the cost of shipping on Paperbackswap.com.  (If you join and list 10 books to swap, will you list me as your referring member?  My contact email is mary.owlhaven@gmail.com.)

10. Keep your eyes open for ways to save money in your unique situation.  Some ideas will save you big bucks.  Some will only save you a buck or two at a time.  But together they’ll help your debt go bye-bye.  Who knows?  You might be able to pay off more than $10,000 during the next year!

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  1. Done, done and done. PaperbackSwap.com, SwapDVD.com and SwapCD.com (or whatever they are called. I will list a bunch of items tomorrow ….

  2. i spent this past year paying down my student loan debt. my company’s slow season is during the winter, so everyone’s hours are cut to part-time during the slow months to avoid layoffs. during last year’s slow season, my husband and i made a budget and stuck to it. then when our workload picked up again and i went back to full-time, i took the “extra” money from each paycheck and put it into one of my debts at a time. over the past 10 months, i’ve paid off two of my loans (5 years early!), with a third in progress. of course, by lowering my overall monthly expenses, i can continue to pay down my loans during this year’s slow season by taking the money that would have gone toward those other loans and putting it toward the next one. slow but steady progress 🙂

  3. The old-fashioned library works great to reduce even shipping costs for books, movies, music, etc.

  4. During Lent, when we don’t buy meat or dairy, we see about a 30% drop in our grocery budget. More plant-based meals can really add up, financially speaking.

  5. OH! And GREAT JOB paying off that 10K! That is AMAZING! : )

  6. In the process of buying a house (no loan) before the start of the new school year. It will be half the size of the one I am in now, but because I did not work for over 27 years when children little and homeschooling, my Social Security checks are going to be quite small when I DO start collecting. And with no mortgage payment want to have student loans paid off in five years.

    Also another money saving tip, instead of buying new fabric for each and every project go through all the clothes, sheets, and blankets that are not being used as much as you anticipated–and repurpose them. Be sure and save all the buttons in an old coffee can because they can be used to make bracelets, put on newly made purses or book bags, etc.

    Instead of meat with every meal, eat TVP to get the much-needed vitamins and minerals. Great money saver. At least half your meals a week, make all vegetable stirfry and/or soup based and throw in the TVP.

    Chart your meals to be sure that everyone is consuming the needed vitamins. It is easy to forget that you haven’t had cauliflower in a week or celery that week, for instance. This is a huge money saver in that it keeps people from getting sick. And don’t forget the one a day vitamin and vitamin D (for those of us in sun-deprived areas).


  7. Great to read more young families focusing on getting rid of debt – one small thing we did years ago was to get rid of cable tv. I know some people think they cannot live without 120 channels – but I do live quite well – I have an antenna which picks up local channels (I live within 70 miles of a major city)
    Also spent the money for a Kindle reader over a year ago – with all the free downloads available on Amazon – rarely have to buy a book, don’t have to drive to library or go to garage sales.
    Just a couple of hints from a grandparent aged reader. Go for it – I don’t have much money but also don’t have any debt.


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