How I Saved Money in Order to Viciously Pay Down Debt


The following is a contribution from Tony at We Only Do This Once. If you’re interested in contributing to Frugal Rules, please see our guidelines and contact us.


I have never been a frugal person until a year-and-a-half ago when I found myself $120,000 in debt, I knew it was time to cut back on everything. While there is more I can cut out of my life, I’m pretty proud of where I am right now.  I mean, I owned a Porsche a year ago!


Twelve Ways I Save Money All Year Round

#1 – I cut my own hair. I bought a $20 buzzer, and it will last at least a year or two. I used to get a haircut every month, at a cost of $30 (including tip, not including gas money to get there and valuable time spent there). So I save the cost of about 12 haircuts a year. Annual savings: $360.

#2 – Basic Cable TV. We watch DVDs, or read.  I should cut out cable completely…I really should. I cut out $60/month from our bill. Annual savings: $720.

#3 – Budgeted our groceries.  We cut out hundreds of dollars from our monthly grocery bill by menu planning and budgeting.  My wife and I both eat like rabbits, so our monthly bill for a family of four is $800, down from about $1200.  Annual savings: $4800.

#4 – We don’t go to the movies. Last year we went out and spent $60 on a crappy movie. Never again!  We have Netflix streaming now for $7/month. Annual Savings: $630.

#5 – Wine at Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have a TJ’s I am really sorry! I drink a decent amount of wine (not quitting, people), and each bottle is about $10. TJs sells a case of 12 bottles for $40.  Annual Savings: $1200.

#6 – We barely go out anywhere. Call us boring, but not really. We hang with good friends at our home instead. Annual savings: easily $1000.

#7 – We don’t shop. We avoid the mall like the plague. We really hate it. Annual savings: easily $2,000.

#8 – I go home for lunch most days. My colleagues eat out every day, at a cost of $10-20 per lunch. I eat for less than $5. Annual savings: $1,800.

#9 – No magazine or newspaper subscriptions. I used to subscribe to 1-2 magazines and have the paper delivered. Now I read the Internet. Annual savings: $360.

#10 – We don’t buy new clothes. If we do, it’s off to the thrift store. Annual savings: at least $800.

#11 – No big vacations. When I am out of debt and my savings accounts are nice and healthy, we may go again. Others I know take at least one trip per year. Annual savings: $1,500.

#12 – No more expensive coffee. I used to go to Starbucks every day. At a cost of about $2-$4 per drink. Now I make my own coffee. Annual savings: about $1,000.

There are more little ways that I’ve learned to save, like turning off lights, buying used, cooking at home, and driving way less.

Estimated total savings: $16,000 that I put to debt payoff instead!

The numbers above may not apply to you. Keep in mind that I live in the Northeast where prices are high. However you look at it, I have done a complete 180 with my spending. I do not miss anything that I listed above, and I can sleep better knowing I am almost debt-free!


What things have you cut back on in order to help pay down debt or simply save more money?


Editor’s note: Kudos to Tony for the strides he has made in order to help him pay off debt. There are two things that can be taken away from this: getting out of debt IS possible and some simple changes can add up to savings that can help you knock down that debt or save more. I do some, not all, of these things as general practice in order to save money so it can be used on other things.


Photo courtesy of: Sanja Gjenero

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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. I'm also a freelance writer, and would love to help out if you have the need. If you're wanting to learn how to monetize your blog, check out my blog coaching services to see how I can help you take your site to the next level.


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