“It always seems impossible until it is done.”

Nelson Mandela

No amount of debt is impossible to escape. These 15 tips will help you get rid of that meddling debt once and for all.

Tip #1: Live in a Cheaper Area

The average cost of rent in Washington D.C. is $2100. I lived about 20-30 minutes outside of D.C with my former boyfriend and paid $1200/month, including utilities. On top of that, we lived seven minutes from a Metro Station. We saved money by taking the bus and the train into the city. The wages in D.C. tend to be higher (due to the cost of living), so we would earn a higher wage by working inside the city, and save money by living outside of the city. (Not to mention, we had more space for less money). On top of that, we were still able to travel outside of the country three to four times a year.

Tip #2: Find a Roommate

While we’re on the topic of housing… have you ever thought about having a roommate? House hacking is a huge thing right now… why not hack your apartment by sharing the expenses? Yes, there are horror stories about living with other people, but there are also tons of successful narratives about the same situation. Keep in mind that this is TEMPORARY. You don’t have to spend the rest of your life with this person, just try six months to one year and see how much money you save.

Friendly reminder: Sharing is caring 🙂

Tip #3: Stay at Home

You can’t spend money if you don’t leave the house 🙂

A majority of our spending is on housing, so why not get your money’s worth? Ever notice that you seem to spend money the second you step outside the house? That’s because marketing and advertising are EVERYWHERE. Companies want your money and they play into your subconscious. Reduce temptation by spending more time indoors.

You’re probably asking, “well what am I supposed to do if I’m just sitting at home? Stare at the wall and twiddle my thumbs?” If that’s your cup of tea, then go for it, however, there are plenty of things you can do inside your humble adobe.

Here are 14 free activities you can do without leaving the house:

  • Read a book
  • Catch up on your finances
  • Write in a journal
  • Give your friends and family a call
  • Learn a new language
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Declutter your home
  • Meditate
  • Meal prep
  • Invite friends over for a game night
  • Play video games
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Sleep
  • Try a new recipe using ingredients you already have

Tip #4: Negotiate Your Bills

Wanna know the easiest way to lower your recurring bills? ASK.

Seriously, call up your cable, internet, or insurance provider to see if they’re currently running any specials. There are even scripts for every scenario. Give it a try and see what happens. Remember, the worst they can say is, “no”.

Tip #5: Educate Yourself on Personal Finance

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Benjamin Franklin

Financial literacy is KEY. Remember being a kid, and your teacher handed you this object with a bunch of words on a piece of paper? They would have you open up that object and pronounce the words that were inside of it. That is called reading a book, and it is CRUCIAL TO YOUR GROWTH. How do you expect to master something if you don’t know anything about it? My motto is, “if you can read, you can succeed”. Reading these books helped me become debt-free and turned me into a money-saving guru. Seriously, personal finance books are the SHIT. They even come with worksheets, charts, and graphs that you can fill in.

*Disclaimer: there will be some trial and error involved with personal finance books because not every approach is going to work for you. Choose what works best, and leave the rest. Your Frugal Friend’s money management approach is a mixture of Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey, Robert Kiyosaki, David Bach, Kevin O’Leary, and my Mom lol.

Tip #6: Utilize Company Benefits

I have a challenge for you: Visit Human Resources and ask them for a copy of your company’s benefits.

If you’re dedicating 40+ hours to a company, why not take advantage of what they’re offering you in return? Here’s an example of a few benefits:

  • 401k Retirement Match
  • Health Insurance
  • Free/Discounted Cell Phone Service
  • Free/Discounted Gym Membership
  • Free food
  • Free drinks

The last company I worked for offered all of these things! I saved $50/month by canceling my cell phone service. I saved $160/year by not needing a gym membership. Health Insurance was only $20/month (and it was REALLY GOOD), and the company provided pastries for breakfast every morning. They also provided free snacks throughout the day. Oh, and HAPPY HOUR EVERY FRIDAY. We literally got to eat food and drink booze for free.

Take the money you’re saving and put it towards debt, retirement, or add it to your savings. Every little bit helps.

Tip #7: Use Public Transportation

Some people collect stamps, I collect Metro Cards 🙂

Public Transportation is my SHITTTTT! I’ve crowned myself “Princess of Public Transportation”. It’s literally the most cost-effective way to get around any city. I’ve used the public transportation system in Spain, Washington, D.C., Japan, New York, and Hawaii. $3 will practically get you anywhere (Except in Japan. It’s expensive as fuck but still cheaper than taxis).

When I lived in the Washington, D.C. area, I used the MetroRail System. I paid $175/month for unlimited train rides, which was $5.83 a day.

Let’s price compare with my 2010 Ford Mustang:
Car Payment: $285/month
Car Insurance: $80/month
Gas: $120-150/month
Maintenance: Varies
Tickets/Fines: Varies

Total: $485/month (not including maintenance, tickets/fines)

I saved $310 a month by not having a car. That’s $3720 a year!

My Mustang was totaled in 2015. I was rear-ended while sitting at a stoplight. I’ve been taking public transportation ever since. Utilizing public transportation was the key to success during my debt-free journey. I took the train and worked three jobs, so I was able to put away $800/month into my savings and pay off debt. On top of that, I was still able to travel outside of the country at least three times a year. Not having a car changed my life.

Tip #8: Download a FREE copy of Debt-Free Fundamentals

That’s right, there’s literally a free e-book that breaks down the basics on how to get started on the road to financial freedom. It was written by yours truly and it’s fucking epic. Your frugal friend became debt-free at age 26 by following the steps in this book. Read it, you’ll be glad you did. Your money will too 🙂

Tip #9: Spend Five Minutes a Day With Your Money

Check your accounts EVERY SINGLE DAY. Make it a goal to spend at least five minutes a day with your money. Here’s what I mean:

Log into your bank account and review your checking and savings. Know exactly how much you have in each account. Do the same thing with your credit card, retirement, student loans, and utilities. This helps catch fraud and also makes you more mindful of your money. It can also prevent overdraft fees and/or the anxiety that comes with swiping your card, hoping it gets approved. It doesn’t have to be a guessing game. Know exactly where you stand, and take this time to think of more ways to make more or spend less money,

*Here’s a checklist that you can follow 🙂 *

  • Check your bank account balance (checking and savings)
  • Check your credit card accounts
  • Check your retirement/investment accounts
  • Track your spending by writing down what you spent, how much you spent, and where you spent it
  • Analyze how much you spent the day before and how much you’ve spent this month to see if you are sticking to your goals
  • Adjust accordingly and brainstorm extra ways you can make more money or spend less.

I timed myself and this literally took seven minutes. No excuses.

Tip #10: Track Your Spending

A prime example of what happens when you don’t track your spending

Tracking (and calculating) your spending is the MOST IMPORTANT step if you want to become (and remain) debt-free.

Tracking your spending shows that you value your time and your money. It also holds you accountable for your purchases. Make it a goal to track your spending EVERY SINGLE DAY. It does not matter if it is the 1st of the month or the 18th, start tracking your spending TODAY. It is time to create new habits and keep an eye on your hard-earned money.

There are plenty of ways to track your spending. There are free apps, like Mint or EveryDollar that will do it for you and break down each category. Certain banking apps have this feature as well.

Tip #11: Cancel a Credit Card (or two)

Yes, there are benefits to credit cards like reward points, cashback, and free flights. But, is that 1.5% cashback on a $15,000 maxed-out credit card with a 17% interest rate really worth it? Weigh the pros and cons of how much your credit card is costing you. You may be better off cutting up your card and closing the account. I know you’re saying, “Well, what about my credit score?!” Well…what about spending the rest of your life being a slave to Visa and Mastercard?

All a credit score is good for is getting a better deal on debt. Think about it, this is what your credit score consists of:

*Credit History (How long you’ve been in DEBT)
*Payment History (Your ability to pay back DEBT)
*Credit Utilization (How much DEBT you’re using)
*New Credit (Any new DEBT you’ve accumulated)
*Credit Mix (A combination of the types of DEBT you have)

See what I mean?

Disclaimer: I’m not saying a credit score isn’t important, but I think we give too much power to credit. It’s not about “no credit cards at all”, it’s about using them responsibly and to your advantage. I’ve canceled four credit cards to reduce debt and temptation because I know myself. I kept two credit cards: One is a Visa, the other is Victoria’s Secret. I pay them off every month, but I wasn’t always good at this. Be sure that your credit limits are reasonable for you. The most credit card debt I can ever be in is $12,000, which is manageable for me.

Remember, your credit score is not an asset. Cold hard cash is.

Tip #12: Have Multiple Sources of Income

Having multiple sources of income not only serves as a safety net, but it also helps you pay off your debt faster. The money you’re making from your other job could go straight to debt, knocking YEARS off of your loans. This won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Plus you’ll have less time to spend money if you’re always working 🙂

Your Frugal Friend at job #2. I worked as a receptionist at H&R Block during the tax season.

Your frugal friend worked seven days a week to become debt-free. That’s right, Monday to Monday. My work schedule was as follows:

Monday-Friday (6:00 am to 7:30 am): Hit snooze three times, wake up, shower, get dressed, and catch the train to work.

Monday-Friday (8:00 am to 5:00 pm): Work my full-time job as an Administrative Assistant (aka JANITOR) in Downtown D.C.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday (5:30 pm to 9:30 pm): Part-time work as a receptionist for H&R Block during the tax season.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday (9:30 pm to 10:30 pm): Catch the train home, shower, pack lunch and my gym bag for the next day.

Monday-Friday (10:30 pm to 1:00 am): Create a website and build the Currency Canvas brand that you love so much 🙂

Saturday & Sunday (1:00 pm to 5:00 pm): Work my part-time job as a brand ambassador aka give out free samples of alcohol to people.

I worked so much that I didn’t even have time to think about spending my money.

Tips for working multiple jobs:

**Find a balance. Don’t have more than one HARD job, for instance, my full-time job was mentally demanding. I worked with analysts (aka constant thinkers), so my brain was always churning. I had to be mentally sharp and mentally prepared for anything. However, my job at H&R Block only required me to check-in clients at the front desk, ask them about their day, and make coffee. It was super easy and required little to no brainpower. Also, giving out free wine to people on the weekends required absolutely no thinking. I got to talk to people and sell them wine. BEST. JOB. EVER!

**Find something that you’re good at and enjoy doing: Do you like grocery shopping? What about babysitting or walking dogs? Ever thought about donating plasma? What about building websites or tutoring? Explore your strengths and hobbies, they just might make you some extra cash.

Tip #13: Purchase Groceries and Pack Your Lunch

$40 for a week’s worth of food

The average cost of lunch in Washington, D.C. is $13. Multiply that by five times a week and that’s $65. That equals $260 per month for ONE MEAL A DAY. I would spend about $40 a week on the basics (chicken, rice, veggies, fruit) and make at least ten meals out of that. Plus, I really enjoy my own cooking. I know exactly what I like and how I want it seasoned. All I had to do was heat up my food at work and I was enjoying a home-cooked meal in less than five minutes. Not to mention, eating at home is healthier 🙂

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to treat yourself and eat out maybe once or twice a week. Remember, baby steps are still steps and can make a huge difference over time.

Not sure what to cook? There’s this super amazing website that has the answers to EVERYTHING. It’s called Google. Pinterest is pretty great too. There are also Facebook groups that share recipes and videos on how to prepare meals.

Tip #14: Pay Yourself and Your Bills First

“Payday means being one step closer to your financial goals.”

Briana Weist

What’s the first thing you do when you get paid? What do you do after that? Do you head straight to happy hour after work or do you head home to make dinner? What about the weekends? Ask yourself these questions and analyze your habits.

Back when your frugal friend was Young, Fabulous, and Broke, I used to go shopping, go partying, go out to eat…then I would try to pay my bills with the leftovers. IT NEVER WORKED. A simple adjustment called “pay yourself/bills first” was EXACTLY what I needed. The first thing I did when my paycheck arrived was take care of all of my bills (rent, cell phone, insurance, gym membership, credit card), put money in my savings, and the rest was for me until next payday.

Actual photo of how I allocated my paychecks.

My mentality became “my bills are paid, so even if I blow the rest of this money, my responsibilities are taken care of”. Simply switching from “treat yourself” first then pay bills, to pay bills FIRST then “treat yourself” saved me a lot of hassle and a lot of money on late payments. I would also play a game with myself and see how much money I could keep in my account until the next payday. It’s the little things that truly make a difference.

Tip #15: Cancel Subscriptions

Do you really NEED Amazon Prime, Pandora, Spotify, Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, Apple Music, HBO Now, Showtime, and Starz?! $10 a month doesn’t seem bad, but it adds up when you have seven different monthly subscriptions. Challenge yourself to pick one, no more than two subscriptions. You can even switch to the free version of streaming services, like Spotify and Pandora.

Follow these rules and you’ll be out of debt sooner than you think. Which tip(s) are you going to implement this week? Which tips are you already following? Any ones we should add to the list? Looking forward to hearing from you in the comments below!

Stay frugal, be brilliant!!!