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


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