Delaying Your Spending Can Take a Big Bite Out of Your Credit Card Debt

By Mike Peterson
In July 17, 2013

When you’re struggling with high-interest credit card debt, you’re always looking for new ways to bring down your balance faster.  There are quite a few debt-repayment strategies to choose from, including a couple of my favorites:  the snowball method and the snowflake method.  Both of these are fairly flexible and can be combined with other savings and debt repayment strategies (in fact, you can even use them together!). 

 

Another great way to knock a huge chunk off of your credit card balance is to cut or delay your spending in other areas.  In other words, by cutting out (or even simply postponing) a few purchases every month, you’ll end up with enough cash for an extra credit card payment – and extra credit card payments can help you pay down your debt a lot faster.

Not sure how to start?  Here are a few ways to cut or delay your monthly spending:

  • Borrow instead of buy.  Borrowing is a great way to get something without having to shell out a ton of money.  The next time you want to make a purchase, try checking around to see if you can borrow it first.  Need a new drill?  See if you can borrow one from a friend or family member.  Want to catch up on that must-see TV series you missed?  Check your local library – you might be able to check out an entire season free of charge.
  • Find substitutes.   Another great way to free up extra cash is to find low-cost substitutes for stuff you normally use.  At the grocery store, check out some of the generic versions of your favorite products – in many cases, they’re just as good as the name-brand items, but at a fraction of the price.  Instead of buying gifts for birthdays and holidays, consider going the handmade route.  Use your talents:  baked goods, framed photos, drawings, or even poems can be meaningful — and frugal — gifts.  Instead of joining a gym, start jogging in your neighborhood. 

  • Make do with what you have.  It’s fairly easy to convince yourself that you “need” new things: Shiny new appliances, updated décor, a fancier car, and so on.  Sure, your harvest-gold, top-loading washing machine might look a bit outdated – but if it gets the job done, you should stick with it for a while instead of running out to get a newer and more attractive model.  In other words, if you don’t really need it, you shouldn’t buy it.  (You can always splurge when you’ve paid off your credit card debt.  Just remember to pay cash, or else you’ll end up back where you started.)
  • Hold out for a better price.  Being frugal isn’t about refusing to spend money.  Even the most budget-conscious people eventually need to buy necessities, and there’s nothing wrong with the (very) occasional splurge – as long as you can really afford it.  That said, when it comes time to make a purchase, you shouldn’t jump into it.  Whatever you want – whether it’s a cell phone, a new pair of shoes, a refrigerator, or a TV – you can save a lot of money if you wait a while.  Be patient and do some comparison shopping.  If there’s a holiday coming up, see if you can catch a good holiday-themed sale.  Wait for a newer model to come out (the older one will most likely drop in price).
  • Prioritize your purchases.  Not every purchase can (or should) be delayed.  Things like home repair and medical care should take priority over other types of purchases.  Before you make a purchase, ask yourself, “Is this a need or a want?”  If it’s really, truly a “need,” go for it.  If not, hold off for a while.  If it’s a “want,” hold off for a while – you might even find that you don’t want it after you’ve had some time to think about it!

See?  Pretty easy stuff.  By simply delaying some non-essential purchases, you can easily free up more of your money every month – money that can be used to pay down credit card debt and get you back on the road to financial freedom.

Mike is the author of “Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips to Retire Rich” and he has been published in a variety of local and national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Deseret Morning News, LDS Living Magazine, and Physicians Money Digest. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix.