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Want to Cut Debt? Cut Expenses.

The old cliché that “every journey begins with the first step” really does apply when tackling debt. Though trying to pay down credit card debt can feel like a monstrous task, taking precise first steps will point you in the right direction.

If you feel like you’re constantly spinning your wheels without decreasing debt, start over by taking stock of what’s coming in and out of your budget. After all, you can’t contribute money that you don’t have toward debt. Once you find the holes where money is leaking out, create a strategy to patch them.

Many consumers fail to realize that the small expenses really do add up. Here are some general areas to look through to firm up your budget:

Utilities

Utilities are generally an area where cutting back on energy usage pays. Programmable thermostats allow you to schedule when the heat or cooling comes on/off in your home, using energy more efficiently. Simple things like turning lights off when you’re not in the room, conserving water, and using energy-efficient appliances can really cut your energy bill. There are tons of money-saving strategies to cut your utility expenditure.

Extra phone services

If you have both a landline and a cell phone, consider eliminating one. These days, many people opt out of a landline in favor of cells phones. It may be redundant to pay for both if you never even use the landline. Also, examine your cell phone contract. There may be areas where you’re paying for services you don’t fully use – like too many texts per month.

Cable

Most people don’t even watch all the channels they pay for monthly, but stick to their few favorite shows. If this sounds like you, save by eliminating cable and just watching your favorite shows via the Internet. Most major networks post shows online for free.

Gym membership

If you don’t use your health club membership at least a few times a week, chances are it’s not worth what you’re paying. If you just can’t get into the gym, cut it out of your budget until your debts are paid off.

Eating out

Eating out just twice a month can cost $100 or more for the average family. Instead, choose to eat in with your family, and bring lunches to work. Make going out for dinner a special occasion with friends and family, something to be valued rather than taken for granted.

Transportation

You may be losing cash flow by paying for and maintaining transportation that you could cut back. If you have multiple cars but only use one, consider selling or loaning the car to a friend or someone you know in need. Save yourself even more money by carpooling to work and creating carpools to various activities for your kids.

Entertainment

Rather than doling out a chunk to take the entire family to the movies, save and have a family night by renting a movie, playing games, and making dinner together. You don’t need to spend a lot to connect with your family. Make the time to connect; it will pay off for your family.

Check your taxes

Double check your w-2 and make sure that the amount being withheld from your paycheck coincides with your circumstances. If your living circumstances have recently changed, like a spouse losing a job, you may need to lower the amount withheld.

Coffee habit?

Even a simple coffee habit can drain a hole in your budget. Spending just $5 a day on a latte can add up to $80 a month. If you can’t live without your latte just cut back on half of what you normally have to begin with, and you’ll still notice a savings.

Though there are many more opportunities to cut back and save, these are just a few to get you going. Cutting the excesses in your budget can truly help you shave off that credit card debt and help you pocket the difference.

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